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Teddy the Rough Rider

Teddy the Rough Rider (1940)

February. 21,1940
| Drama History

This short follows the political career of Theodore Roosevelt, beginning in 1895, when he was appointed police commissioner of New York City. In 1897 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy. His charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War in 1898 is re-created. He becomes vice president in March 1901 and assumes the presidency when William McKinley is assassinated six months later. According to the narrator, Roosevelt refused to be beholden to political bosses, doing what he believed to be right for the American people.


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John T. Ryan

ONCE AGAIN WE are indebted to Turner Classic Movies for bringing us together with movie shorts which are not comedies (farce usually) and introducing many to the "educational" or "historic" types. Although confined to the sum of two reels of celluloid, these pictures do serve at least to a sort of primer on a given area of study. Their exhibition invites the viewer to do some further research of his own at rge local public library.AS FOR THE production itself, TEDDY THE ROUGH RIDER turns in a remarkably Grade "A" look from stem to stern. This was no doubt at least due in part to the resourcefulness of the Warner Brothers'/Vitaphone's extensive experiences at using and reusing just about every sort of action, adventure and dramatic scene and out take available. Hence, you may see many shots here that were taken from the likes of DODGE CITY (Warner Brothers, 1939). AS FOR THE treatment of History in this Historical Mini-Biography, t is, of necessity condensed, compressed and somewhat freely embellished. We learn that Roosevelt was rapidly promoted up the political ladder from NYC Police Commissioner, New York State Assemblyman, NY Governor and then to the Office of VP under William McKinley -all basically for being a thorn in the side of the Political Machine. BUT IN THE END, Teddy fooled them, succeeding McKinley as President upon the assassination of the latter on September 14, 1901. This was the ultimate culmination in a most diverse and obstacle laden life, even for a "spoiled" rich kid.TEDDY HAD STARTED his life as an asthmatic plagued, skinny, little kid. He spent a good deal of his youthful time in making himself bigger, stronger and much more masculine and robust individual. He could have been called the original "97 pound weakling", even before the days of the Charles Atlas ads. THIS NEED AND drive to both prove and improve his masculine self continued right up to his organizing the famous U.S. Army Rough Riders of the Spanish- American War. WHICH NEATLY BRINGS us back to the title of this film.


Probably one of the most written about, discussed, admired, and despised in some quarters, presidents we've ever had was the many sided Theodore Roosevelt. Each generation brings forth new biographies and historical reassessments of his career. The same man who made conservation a personal cause, who passed the Pure&Food and Drug Act, who won a Noble Peace Prize for mediating a settlement of the Russo-Japanese War was also one of the most belligerent men who ever occupied the White House.But in 1940 with another Roosevelt in the White House, a little of that belligerency might have gone a long way in limiting the ambitions of some megalomaniacs across the pond. It was with that in mind that Warner Brothers made this short subject giving a superficial, but effective treatment of TR's life.Sidney Blackmer who made a small career within a career of playing Theodore Roosevelt stars in this film which won an Oscar for Best Short Subject. Theodore Roosevelt's career just like his cousin Franklin's would require a nine part mini-series, but the highlights are touched on and the character comes through.


Teddy the Rough Rider (1940) *** (out of 4) Oscar-winning short from Warner has Sidney Blackmer playing Teddy Roosevelt as we see his early life in New York City to his military days and finally his years in the White House. I'm really not sure how historically accurate this film is but from what I've read it's more accurate than most bio-pics from Hollywood. This two-reelers benefits from being shot in Technicolor, which leads to some very good looking scenes including a rather nice war sequence, which contains some good action and of course some beautiful colors. The main reason to watch this film is for the performance by Blackmer who would play this character six times in his career. Again, I'm not sure how realistic the performance is but the two men certainly look a lot alike and it wouldn't shock me if this was close to how the President acted. Blackmer gives an incredibly strong and uplifting performance as it's clear the political speech at the end was prepping current American's for the war, which was about to happen.

Robert Reynolds

his two-reel short won an Oscar in 1940 and is a fairly good look at Teddy Roosevelt and reasonably historically accurate, for Hollywood. Sidney Blackmer actually looks like TR (thanks to a good makeup job) and it suffers only sligtly from melodramatic excess. The performances are for the most part good and it's a good example of an all but lost form-the 20 minute short film. Turner Classic Movies runs this occasionally as filler and it generally runs as part of their "31 Days of Oscar" feature in March. Recommended.