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The Story of Will Rogers (1952) HD online

The Story of Will Rogers (1952) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Biography / Comedy / Drama / Western
Original Title: The Story of Will Rogers
Director: Michael Curtiz
Writers: Frank Davis,Stanley Roberts
Released: 1952
Duration: 1h 49min
Video type: Movie
A film biography of American humorist Will Rogers of Oklahoma. It captures the highlights of his life from Oklahoma ranch life to traveling the world in search adventure and a life as a performer in vaudeville. Portrayed by Will Rogers, Jr. He has the sound and character to be his father--the Cherokee Kid, Will Rogers.
Credited cast:
Will Rogers Jr. Will Rogers Jr. - Will Rogers
Jane Wyman Jane Wyman - Betty Rogers
Carl Benton Reid Carl Benton Reid - Senator Clem Rogers
Eve Miller Eve Miller - Cora Marshall
James Gleason James Gleason - Bert Lynn
Slim Pickens Slim Pickens - Dusty Donovan
Noah Beery Jr. Noah Beery Jr. - Wiley Post
Mary Wickes Mary Wickes - Mrs. Foster
Steve Brodie Steve Brodie - Dave Marshall
Pinky Tomlin Pinky Tomlin - Orville James
Margaret Field Margaret Field - Sally Rogers
Eddie Cantor Eddie Cantor - Eddie Cantor
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Todd Karns Todd Karns - 1st Mechanic (scenes deleted)
Dub Taylor Dub Taylor - Actor (scenes deleted)

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on Janaury 12, 1953 with Will Rogers Jr. and Jane Wyman reprising their film roles.

Reviews: [12]

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    Both Michael Curtiz and his longtime employer, Warner Brothers, showed a flair for biographies, and this one has been somewhat underrated. The story is the familiar one of the rise of a young man from obscurity to worldwide fame, and there are really no surprises here. Audiences at the time the movie came out (1952) probably knew much about Rogers' life anyway, though he is nowadays an almost forgotten figure. This movie is solid entertainment, nicely photographed in color, and Will Rogers, Jr. gives an excellent, engaging performance as his father. It is basically a series of cliches, which, once once accepts the premise, one can thoroughly delight in, as I did, as the skill with which such material is handled constitutes the pleasure of watching such a predictable movie as this.

    Rogers was a huge star in vaudeville on Broadway and in the movies. He was also a newspaper columnist and radio commentator, and hugely popular in his day. His homespun humor has dated badly, but the rough and tumble world he came out of is fascinating to see recreated on screen. There are nice ironies in the movie, among them, Rogers' move from the "real west" (Oklahoma) to the "false west" (Hollywood). I also like the casting of the refined, almost patrician actor, Carl Benton Reid, as Rogers' father. The arrival of barnstorming aviator who lands literally in Rogers' backyard, is stunningly filmed, and one can't help get a lump in one's throat as soon as one learns his name: Wiley Post.
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    I agree with the previous commenter about how good this movie is and would love to see it available on video. This movie was made in 1952 and starred Will Rogers Jr. It showed Will Rogers Jr, as his father, doing some performance on Broadway as well as some of the fund-raisers he did during the depression and more of the movies he made in Hollywood. However this website is showing a picture of a movie made in 1961, narrated by Bob Hope, and it is NOT the same movie that they are describing. The one narrated by Bob Hope, is available on video (dvd), and although it is a good biographical movie of Will Rogers, it is NOT the one starring Will Rogers Jr, or any of the other stars listed on this web site. They need to remove that picture as it can cause some confusion for some people.
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    Will Rogers, Jr. stars as his own father Will Rogers in what many critics say is one of the best of movie biographies ever. Will, Jr. even asked that nothing be added to over-dramatize or embellish the storyline of the movie. He wanted his father to speak for himself. That's what they said on TCM. If you love film biographies, or like Jane Wyman, or if you have never heard of Will Rogers and want to know more about him, then you're in for a treat. Costarring James Gleason, Slim Pickens, Mary Wickes and Eddie Cantor as himself, this film has more heart and respect for its subject matter in one minute, than a lot of other movie biographies have in the whole film, especially musical biographies. This film shows how one man made a difference in the lives of others by being himself and that he is still being loved and remembered today.
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    It was a most uncanny and moving experience to see Will Rogers Jr. portraying his dad on the screen and looking just like him. This was unusual but not unique in film history: Eddie Foy Jr portrayed his father Eddie Foy Sr in Yankee Doodle Dandy with James Cagney as George M. Cohan(1942);and Andre Melies portrayed his father, the pioneer filmmaker Georges Melies, in Le Grand Melies (1952).

    I was greatly moved by the whole experience of seeing this incomparable movie. The touching and sensitive way in which the filmmakers left out Rogers' and Post's death in their airplane crash raised the film to an even higher level of emotionally appropriate story telling. The Billy Mitchell episode was also trenchant and documentarily appropriate as was all the other skillful weaving in of contemporary events. The interspersing of life on the ranch with contrasting episodes from the wide world of Rogers' travels and his reaction to the depression-era's tragic altering of people's lives was beautifully portrayed.

    Besides the fine acting by all concerned the sets and costumes were absolutely exquisite in recreating their eras in the story. Victor Young's adaptations of contemporary pop and folk songs of the time were skillful. Seeing Eddie Cantor himself acting and singing in this 1952 movie was very special to someone like me who actually heard him constantly on the radio during that same time period. The Al Jolson and Marilyn Miller clips were archive footage I presume, but where they dug up such high quality Technicolor episodes to put into this film is beyond me. Perhaps these were 1952 impersonations. However there was one serious flaw in this otherwise brilliant and affecting movie, namely the time line of the musical and historical excerpts and episodes. The movie had Rogers wandering around for two years and finally winding up at the St. Louis Fair of 1904 where he proposes to Betty. However, previously in the movie he had first met Betty in Oloogah about the time Oklahoma was to become a state in 1907. As part of the background time setting for this episode at the Rogers' home much was made of the song "Hello My Baby, Hello My Honey, Hello My Ragtime Girl" which wasn't written till 1909 as well as "Home on the Range" which wasn't written till 1912. So this musical and historical confusion goes along with the "nomination" of Rogers in 1932 at the Democratic convention, likewise fictional. Despite all that, a great and beautiful movie.
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    This one is now out on DVD in the Warner Archives Collection. I saw this picture when it first came out - I was 11 at the time and I wanted to see if it held up in the ensuing 58 years, and I'm pleased to report it is just as entertaining and absorbing the second time around.

    Such is not always the case. I did the same thing with "The High And The Mighty", and was disappointed at how trite and stagey the picture seemed when I saw it recently. But "Will Rogers" holds up, probably because it is a biography of a very famous American from the early part of the last century. Then as now, I was fascinated by what a dead ringer for his dad Will Rogers, Jr. was. I also think the movie benefited from a superior direction job.

    Can I make one criticism? I didn't think Jane Wyman fit the part of a girlfriend/ wife from Oologah, Okla. She was too sophisticated, like a society chick from Riverside Drive who wouldn't bother with a bumpkin from Oologah. But that's just me.

    In any case, this is worth buying and watching. I don't think it will be on TV any time soon as there are two scenes of Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson performing in blackface. Can't upset the PC crowd, you know.
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    Scoreboard Bleeding

    This is an excellent film with an outstanding cast, and a very authentic feel to the overall presentation. Will Rogers, Jr. becomes Will Rogers, Sr. This is a good story about an outstanding "American" personality, and it should definitely be made available on video for all "Americans" to see, especially during these trying times when patriotism, honesty and goodwill could use a shot-in-the-arm. Hopefully it will be make the step to video in the very near future.
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    When they discuss the great movies of director Michael Curtiz, they start with Casablanca, which may well be the greatest American movie - for which he earned a well-deserved Oscar - and go on to such screen gems as The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, Yankee Doodle Dandy (which is a slow movie with a great performance by its star), Life with Father, and a host of others. I doubt anyone would think to mention this movie.

    And The Story of Will Rogers is not a great movie. It does not move with the relentless drive of Casablanca or Robin Hood, it does not sparkle like Life with Father. Seventeen years after his untimely death in 1935, it tells the story of the then still well-remembered American humorist, Will Rogers. Since everyone still knew his story then, the movie did not have to tell it; rather, it picked the moments that it wanted to stand out.

    That isn't Rogers' years in the Ziegfeld Follies, which made him a household word, or his appearance in movies, even through, for a short while, he was the biggest box office attraction in talkies.

    Rather, it concentrates on Rogers' support of General William (Billy) Mitchell and his efforts to get Congress to put money into air power at a time when the U.S. was pulling back into isolationism. World War II and the terrifying German blitzkrieg would eventually show that Mitchell and Rogers were right.

    It also concentrates, in the last part, on Rogers' fund raising for the poor during the depths of the Depression. That, too, is an aspect of Rogers' career that is probably forgotten today.

    This movie won't keep you glued to your seat. But it does serve to remind us, now that there are few among us who remember seeing and hearing Rogers, what warm-hearted pleasure he brought to Americans when so many of us needed a smile so badly. His sense of humor may seem corny today - it was corny back then, too - but there is a lack of nastiness or derision to it that I often miss today.
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    I remember seeing this in Australia and I had just made my teens. Managed to see it a few times. I thought, then and still do now,it was entertaining and had a message. Of course how wonderful for a son to play his Dad ,and Jane Wyman a wonderful actress. The world has lost something when movies like this are seldom made. I will have to and search Amazon and bite the bullet and pay the freight for an old copy. Very hard to get now.I think the family keeps it hidden away. And the folksy, home spun little stories he spun were all gems in themselves. Home truths. Delightful barbs when he was talking about politicians and others in the spotlight. Said gently but painfully sharp. We need a will Rogers today.
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    This is an amazing tale of a person who lived and made his claim to fame in the early decades of the 20th century. There were so many apt points he made about politics that are spot on about our current political world. We could sure use someone like him now to take a bite out of the polarization we have now about political issues. He maintained that we all care about each other and that as long as we have that the U.S. will never go down. We could definitely benefit from such ideas today. Great movie, great cast. Will Rogers Jr. portraying his dad. Jane Wyman as the love of his life. Great family and feel good movie. I viewed it on TCM, if you get the chance, don't miss it!
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    If The Story Of Will Rogers did not exactly stick close to the facts it certainly captured the spirit of the man who in his time was America's beloved entertainer. Will Rogers was in fact more than an entertainer, he was a shrewd and trenchant observer of the political and social scene. We could use a dose of his wisdom today.

    Will Rogers, Jr., who as a dutiful son was the custodian of his father's legacy plays the role of his father and you'll swear it was the real Will. Of course one can see the real Will Rogers in any number of fine films he made for Fox. The film is based on his widow's memoirs and she is played by Jane Wyman so the Rogers family had a tight control on this one.

    It was quite true that Rogers took a long time to find himself, he was something of a rebellious kid who did not take to school. Clem Rogers, his father is played by Carl Benton Reid and he was a power in the Cherokee Indian councils. All Will wanted to do was be a cowboy, but he had a knack for saying some real funny things off the cuff and eventually parlayed that into a vaudeville act and after that the Ziegfeld Follies and movies. And of course a newspaper column that a collection of will be a really shrewd observation of his times.

    One thing that was a glaring error, Will Rogers was never put in nomination for president even as a favorite son. Governor William H. Murray of Oklahoma was in fact a presidential hopeful in 1932 and he would have been surprised at that turn of events.

    Not to say that he wouldn't have made a good president. There is an underside to the Rogers legacy. The dark mirror image of Will Rogers who never met a man he didn't like is portrayed quite ably on the screen by Andy Griffith in A Face In The Crowd. Lonesome Rhodes would have said he never met a man he couldn't take.

    One of the things that Rogers said that was quoted in this film was that this was the greatest country in the world, but taxes are the privilege you pay for living in it. I wish a lot more people would remember that today.

    The Story Of Will Rogers and the films of Will Rogers provide an enduring legacy to a man who was a national treasure in his day and now.
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    I've only seen one movie with the 'real' Will Rogers in it, that one being "Judge Priest". I bring it up because Will Rogers Jr. portraying his Dad has the most uncanny resemblance a son could have for a father.

    It occurred to me that the present times could use someone of Will Rogers' temperament and ability to separate the wheat from the chaff of our current political discourse. The story presented a man who could make people laugh and think at the same time, a rare ability all the more remarkable because Rogers' brand of humor managed to stave off personal criticism. I hate to think how he'd be treated today; ideologues have no sense of humor.

    One of the few legitimate silent film stars to successfully transition to talking pictures, perhaps Will Rogers' greatest contribution to America was his homespun appeal and the wit and wisdom he applied to every day observations. And he could do it without using language that would turn audiences blue the way some modern comedians do.

    I didn't know what to make of that scene when Rogers' name was placed in nomination for the Presidency as a favorite son, but a couple of other reviewers here saved me the time of looking it up. As I sit here a little over a month since the 2016 Presidential election, I'm left to ponder whether a non-politician could ever be elected President. Doesn't seem like that would ever happen, does it?
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    While I'm sure there was a bit of sanitizing in this biopic of Will Rogers, this is one of the better biopics of the era. It's fairly big budget, and if you want to know who Will Rogers was and what he stood for, you couldn't do much better than watch this film. I liked that part of the early and late parts of the film were photographed at the Will Rogers Shrine Of The Sun, just a few miles from my home in Colorado Springs.

    Some might say there was no sanitizing, but Will's father died long before indicated in the film. That's one obvious example.

    Will Rogers, Jr. does very well playing his father, though obviously he had a limited film career. I was surprised to learn on the web that as an old man he committed suicide. Jane Wyman does very nicely as his wife; I really enjoyed her performance.

    Carl Benton Reid plays Will's father, although as I indicated earlier, he died in 1911, long before most of the events in this film. The wonderful James Gleason is around as Will's agent. Slim Pickens is here as a best friend. And one of my old favorites -- Noah Beery, Jr. -- is here as pilot Wiley Post. Character actress Mary Wickes has a small part. And the great Eddie Cantor plays black-face.

    There's not much to criticize here. This film was perfect for the family-oriented 1950s, but it still gives one pause to think about the values prescribed here. A good film and, for the most part, fairly historically accurate.