The President's Lady

1953, Movie, NR, 96 mins

Review

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One of the better biographical films made by Hollywood, THE PRESIDENT'S LADY stars Heston as Andrew Jackson, whom the actor also played in THE BUCCANEER. It's 1791 in Nashville, Tennessee. Hayward is married to philandering Connor, a local businessman, when she meets attorney Heston, and there is an instant attraction. Hayward is having a tough time with Connor, so her mother, Bainter, suggests she go to Natchez, Mississippi, to get some breathing space. Since the area is fraught with danger, Heston volunteers accompany her to Natchez on the riverboat. En route, Indians attack the boat, and the experience brings Heston and Hayward closer together. In Natchez, Hayward initiates divorce proceedings at Heston's request. Meanwhile, Heston's law partner, McIntire, sends a note saying that Connor has sued Hayward for divorce on the grounds of her adultery with Heston. The future president is stunned by this accusation (especially since it isn't true), but he doesn't let it stop him from marrying Hayward. Back in Nashville, Heston decides to run for office, but he is forced to put his political career on hold when he learns that Connor's divorce has only recently been made legal, meaning that Heston and Hayward have been living in sin, not the sort of thing candidates want on their records. Heston and Hayward marry once more at Bainter's house and all seems well, but it isn't long before Betz accuses Heston of stealing another man's wife. To uphold his honor Heston challenges Betz to a duel, in which Heston is wounded and Betz killed. Time passes and Heston is nominated by his party to run for the presidency. The campaign is arduous and Hayward becomes ill. She is in the audience at a campaign rally when hecklers begin insulting Heston, bringing up Betz's death and Heston's premature marriage to Hayward. When one of the hecklers calls Hayward a "woman of ill repute," Hayward faints. Ultimately, Heston is elected president, but Hayward dies before she even gets a chance to live in the White House. Hayward gives an excellent performance, aided in no small measure by Ben Nye's terrific makeup job, which successfully aged the beautiful Hayward from 18 to 61. THE PRESIDENT'S LADY received Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction-Set Direction. leave a comment

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The President's Lady
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