Wilson (1944)

Having finished watching Wilson, I decided to compare it with other biopics of American presidents.  I was surprised how few presidents have had movies made based on their lives.  Abraham Lincoln gets the award for having the most, and he is the only president so featured prior to Wilson save Andrew Johnson.  After Wilson, there is a movie about Andrew Jackson in the early 1950s, and that is just about it until we get to the 1960s when American culture underwent radical change with the movies following suit.  And needless to say, movies about presidents after Nixon and the Watergate scandal would never be the same.

Regarding the pre-1960s biopics of American presidents, it is clear why they are so few in number.  They are insufferable, being both boring and cloying.  Notwithstanding all the money that was spent on the elaborate sets in making the movie about Woodrow Wilson, it is completely lacking in entertainment value.  Nothing bad about Wilson is depicted.  For example, we don’t find out anything about what a racist he was.  But those who produced this movie were not content simply to omit anything even slightly negative in his character.  Like those who made movies about Lincoln during this period, they felt compelled to go way beyond mere omission and make the case that Wilson was no mere ordinary mortal, but rather was too good for this world, on a moral and spiritual plane high above his contemporaries, all but canonizing him for sainthood.

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