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Sunrise at Campobello

VHS cover
Directed by Vincent J. Donehue
Produced by Dore Schary
Written by Dore Schary
Starring Ralph Bellamy
Greer Garson
Hume Cronyn
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) 28 September 1960
Running time 144 min
Country  United States
Language English

Sunrise at Campobello is a 1960 biographical film made by Dore Schary Productions and Warner Bros. It tells the story of the initial struggle by future President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and his family when he was stricken with paralysis at the age of 39 in August 1921.


Plot summary

Beginning at the Roosevelt family's vacation home on Campobello Island, New Brunswick (on the MaineCanada border), in the summer of 1921, Franklin is depicted in early scenes as vigorously athletic, enjoying games with his children and sailing his boat.

Suddenly stricken with fever and then paralysis, subsequent scenes focus on the ensuing conflict in the following weeks between the bedridden FDR, his wife Eleanor, his mother Sara, and his close political adviser Louis Howe over FDR's political future. A later scene portrays FDR literally dragging himself down the stairs as, through grit and determination, he painfully strives to overcome his physical limitations and not remain an invalid. In the final triumphant scene, FDR is shown re-entering public life as he walks to the speaker's rostrum at a party convention, aided by heavy leg braces and on the arm of his eldest son James.

Casting and production

Sunrise at Campobello stars Ralph Bellamy, Greer Garson, Hume Cronyn and Jean Hagen. Eleanor Roosevelt was present on the set during location shooting at the Roosevelt estate in Hyde Park, New York. The film was based on Dore Schary's Tony Award-winning Broadway play of the same name. The play and the film were both written and produced by Schary and directed by Vincent J. Donehue.


The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Greer Garson), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color (Edward Carrere, George James Hopkins), Best Costume Design, Color and Best Sound. Greer Garson won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama.[1]

Historical context

Before and during Franklin D. Roosevelt's Presidency, the extent of his disability was carefully concealed from the public. Sunrise at Campobello depicts the debilitating effects of FDR's illness to a greater extent than had been previously disclosed by the media.

Although FDR's disease was earlier attributed to poliomyelitis, a 2003 peer-reviewed study[2] found that six of eight Bayesian posterior probabilities favored a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome over poliomyelitis.

FDR's attending physician, Dr. William Keen, believed it was polio and commended Eleanor's devotion to the stricken Franklin during that time of travail, as portrayed in Sunrise at Campobello. "You have been a rare wife and have borne your heavy burden most bravely," he said, proclaiming her "one of my heroines.".[3]


(l-r) Ralph Bellamy, Eleanor Roosevelt and Greer Garson at Hyde Park, NY, filming Sunrise at Campobello (1960)

See also


  1. ^ "NY Times: Sunrise at Campobello". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-24.  
  2. ^ Goldman, AS et al., What was the cause of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's paralytic illness?. J Med Biogr. 11: 232-240 (2003)
  3. ^ Lash, Joseph P. (1971). Eleanor and Franklin. W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 1-56852-075-1.  

External links



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