Movie Mirrors Index

The Story of Will Rogers

(1952 c 109')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Will Rogers marries Betty and works his way up from rope tricks to become a comic, a columnist, a film star, and an influential political commentator.

         Betty (Jane Wyman) tells how she met Will Rogers (Will Rogers Jr.) in Oolagah. Will picks up his bag and banjo from her at the railroad station. Senator Clem Rogers (Carl Benton Reid) welcomes his son Will home and announces that Oklahoma will be the 46th state. Will dances with Betty and shows her photos. Clem asks Will to run his ranch.

         Will accidentally ropes his father’s horse, and Clem reprimands him. Will tells Betty he is leaving with Dusty (Slim Pickens). Betty gets postcards from Will, who travels around the world. Will does rope tricks in the Wild West Show.

         Will tells Betty that he loves her, and she marries him. On a train Will tells Betty that he joined a circus. He ropes as the Cherokee Kid. In New York a bull gets loose, and Will ropes it. Betty tells Will he is going to be a father. Will gives money to needy friends. Bert Lynn (James Gleason) offers Will $125 a week to perform on stage; but rope tricks do not go over, and Will becomes unemployed. Will tells Bert that he is broke. Will gets a gig as Will Rogers without his horse and tells the audience he is having a baby. Will talks and gets laughs.

         Ziegfeld puts Will in the 1916 Follies. Will talks about politics and how Congress makes jokes that are laws. In 1919 Will is summoned by President Wilson, who praises him. Will tells Betty he does not want to get others in trouble. Will stops talking and plays in silent films in Hollywood. On a movie set Will meets pilot Wiley Post (Noah Beery Jr.), who is also Cherokee. They fly newsreels to other cities.

         Clem visits Will’s ranch in Santa Monica and asks Will why he mortgaged his property in Oklahoma. Will says he is going to make pictures. Wiley tells Will that General Mitchell has been ordered not to talk about aviation. Wiley asks Will to speak out. Clem suggests that Will lead the parade.

         Will gives a speech and makes fun of disarmament. Will goes on a speaking tour and asks, “What’s this country coming to?” Will starts writing a column and stars in talking pictures. Will reports from Europe. Wall Street crashes, and Will goes home.

         Betty takes Will back to Oolagah. Will sees friends are unemployed and moving. He asks Ford and Rockefeller to help. Eddie Cantor (himself) sings and thanks Will for organizing the benefit shows. Will travels with Wiley from city to city. Betty drops in on Will and makes him go to bed for rest.

         At the Democratic Convention the Oklahoma delegation nominates Will Rogers for President. Will makes a simple speech and expresses his gratitude.

         Will tells Betty he is going to Alaska with Wiley to promote defense. Betty says goodbye, and the plane flies off.

         This biopic accurately portrays the wit and humanitarian qualities of the entertainer Will Rogers, who had a knack for bringing politicians and others back to basic realities in humorous ways. His affirmative spirit is expressed in his famous belief that he never met a man he did not like.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

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