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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Magnificent Doll (1946)

In Philadelphia, a young widow (Ginger Rogers) and her mother (Peggy Wood, THE SOUND OF MUSIC) take in boarders to make ends meet. Two of their boarders are James Madison (Burgess Meredith) and Aaron Burr (David Niven) and the young widow's involvement with them will change American history. What starts out as an entertaining highly fictionalized historical romance becomes increasingly absurd. Historically, there's no evidence whatsoever that Dolly Madison was ever Aaron Burr's lover before her marriage to James Madison. One can accept that as a piece of dramatic license but when Rogers as Dolly Madison gives a rousing speech on the courthouse steps to prevent the angry crowd from lynching Burr, historical accuracy be damned and it just becomes too ludicrous. The screenplay is by Irving Stone, who would go on to write two well documented biographies LUST FOR LIFE on Vincent Van Gogh and AGONY AND THE ECSTASY on Michelangelo but his writing here is pure fiction, neatly eliminating Madison's son from her first marriage completely. The director Frank Borzage does well enough with the material at hand though without any particular commitment. With Stephen McNally and Frances E. Williams.

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