|KISSES FOR MY
PRESIDENT (director: Curtis
Bernhardt; screenwriters: Claude Binyon/Robert G.
Kane/story by Robert G. Kane;
cinematographer: Robert Surtees; editor: Sam O'Steen;
music: Bronislau Kaper; cast: Fred MacMurray
(Thaddeus (Thad) McCloud), Polly Bergen (U.S.
President Leslie Harrison McCloud), Eli Wallach
(Raphael Valdez, Jr.), Arlene Dahl (Doris Reid
Weaver), Edward Andrews (Sen. Walsh), Donald May
(Secret Service Agent John O'Connor), Harry Holcombe
(Vice President Bill Richards), Anna Capri (Gloria
McCloud), Ronnie Dapo (Peter McCloud), Richard St.
John (Jackson); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: NR;
producer: Curtis Bernhardt; Warner
"Amiable but bland gender-switch comedy about the first woman president of the United States."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Amiable but bland gender-switch comedy about the first
woman president of the United States (Polly Bergen)
and how it bruises the ego of her husband (Fred
MacMurray), who has trouble with the
protocol and that his wife gets all the attention.
German-born director Curtis Bernhardt
("Conflict"/"Devotion"/"Miss Sadie Thompson") sticks
with the novel idea throughout, but that's way too
long for a concept that doesn't have enough steam to
sustain it. It's based on the story by Robert
G. Kane and is co-written by Kane and Claude
Binyon. Kisses for My President was
released in 1964, less than a year after Kennedy's
assassination and a grieving nation wasn't quite in
the mood to see this lighthearted comedy that had Fred
MacMurray as the male First Lady, satirizing Jacqueline
Kennedy's famous televised White House tour by drunkenly
being a tour guide for a group of TV reporters in
the White House. It received only so-so reviews and
bombed at the box office.
McCloud becomes president of the United States and her
husband Thad to avoid the ethical issue of
conflict of interest gives up his profitable
electronics research business, as they move into the
WH with their teenage boy crazy daughter Gloria (Anna
Capri) and their feisty elementary school
son Peter (Ronnie Dapo). With
Leslie busy at all hours and Thad finding it awkward
to do the traditional feminine duties of the First
Lady, Thad jumps at the chance to escort visiting banana
republic dictator, Valdez (Eli Wallach), around
town. But when Valdez goes on a drunk and is arrested
for disturbing the peace, the film raises its dramatic
tension as high as it gets, as the administration gets
bad publicity from the incident as it cuts off foreign
aid to Valdez. A rival senator (Edward
Andrews) uses it as ammo to attack the
President, and in a Senate subcommittee
Thad when interviewed successfully attacks the
senator as a phony. Also around is Thad's old
flame Doris Reid (Arlene Dahl), a beauty salon maven,
who flirts with Thad and tries to reel him in with a
job offer as an executive in her company. Leslie
worries she's overworked and not giving her family the
attention it needs when reports of her children
misbehaving finmally come to her attention. She also
discovers she's pregnant. This leads to Leslie
resigning from office, as the doctor's told her she
would have to lighten her workload. That might have
been the funniest joke the old-fashioned 1930s'
wannabe screwball comedy cracked.
REVIEWED ON 9/26/2012 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ