Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) 

 

 

 

 

Director:     Roger Michell. 

Starring:     Bill Murray (FDR), Laura Linney (Daisy), Samuel West (Bertie), Olivia Colman (Elizabeth), Elizabeth Marvel (Missy), Olivia Williams (Eleanor), Elizabeth Wilson (Mrs. Roosevelt), Martin McDougall (Tommy), Andrew Havill (Cameron), Eleanor Bron (Daisy's Aunt), Nancy Baldwin (Mrs. Astor).

relationship between FDR and his fifth cousin Daisy Suckley when as President he would be in Hyde Park, New York

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

Daisy Suckley says about herself:  "Back then, this is years ago, I couldn't afford secrets.  I just had chores.  As a child growing up, we had been rich.  And then, well, we weren't.  And like most people during the Depression, I now lived each day as it came, no longer expecting anything.  Waiting.  For nothing."

And then everything changed.  She gets a telephone call from the mother of FDR.  The mother says that FDR needs someone to take his mind off his work.  A chauffeur picks her up at her house and drives her to the Roosevelt house in Hyde Park on the Hudson River.  Arriving at the absolutely bustling house, she is told that the boss has not been feeling well.  He seems to have have sinus problems every time he comes home.  Daisy is ushered into FDR's office.  The man doesn't notice Daisy at first.  He is bothered by the sniffles.  After a short while, he notices that it's Daisy in his office.  He says her name and adds:  "What a rare treat."   He asks her how long has it been since they saw each other?  She says it's been years.  It was at the Dows' wedding in Rhinebeck. 

At FDR's invitation, she pours herself some hot tea and sits down on the sofa by the table.  FDR asks her to come over and look at his stamp collection.  She goes over to his desk, grabs a chair and sits down.  Daisy looks over some of the stamps from different places in the world and says she would like to go to a place depicted on a stamp.  FDR inquires which place is that and Daisy says, oh, she would like just to go anywhere.  FDR laughs. 

Daisy says the country was still in the depression.  People were out of work and hungry.  FDR's mother told Daisy that her son would run the whole country from Hyde Park, if he could.  She comments that everyone was looking to him and everyone wanting something from him. 

FDR would take Daisy on a ride when he was at Hyde Park.  One day FDR sends his police escort away and it was just Daisy and he on the back roads.  He stops in the middle of a field filled with blooming flowers.  He takes her left hand in his hand and brings it over to his knee  As narrator, Daisy observes:  "I knew that we were now not just fifth cousins, but very good friends."

On one of his visits to Hyde Park, he drives into the woods to show Daisy a house he had built.  He tells her to go take a look at the house.  The interior of the house is still in the process of being painted. 

FDR gets out of the car with his crutches and comes over to Daisy. He tells her he was thinking of sharing this house with her. 

After awhile, everyone just got used to seeing Daisy at Hyde Park when FDR was there.  And yet, no one ever asked her why she was always there. 

And then there was Mrs. Roosevelt.  Daisy had to be very careful around Eleanor.  She observes:  "People said their marriage was troubled and unhappy.  That they lived mostly separate lives.  But I never saw that.  That's not how they seemed when they were together."

King George and his wife Elizabeth are coming to stay with the Roosevelts at Hyde Park.  When the Royals arrive, FDR sends Daisy upstairs to "spy behind enemy lines".  She comes to tell the President that it's all quiet on the upstairs front.  She says the one thing that surprised her is how young the Royal couple is and how nervous they are.  FDR says that Germany is becoming a big threat for England and he would feel nervous too, if he were in their shoes. 

One reason for the Royals feeling nervous is the fear that the Roosevelts are trying to make the Royals seem common.  The room where the King is staying has two rows of American anti-British cartoons from the War of 1812.  And there is going to be a picnic, which Elizabeth just despises, tomorrow, at which the main dish will be hot dogs.

The King goes down to see FDR.  The family just had a row over FDR not serving drinks.  FDR has insisted that they will have drinks and the King says he would like a cocktail.  Elizabeth comes down later.  Daisy remembers the evening as:  "A perfect summer night." 

FDR sends his secretary out to tell Daisy she can go home.  He will be occupied with the King the entire evening.  FDR is brilliant with the King.  He praises him highly; he say if he was the King's father, he would be proud of him; he asks what stutter?; and shows the King the full extent of his own disability with his legs. 

Daisy says that night she couldn't sleep.  How she longed for the President. 

Bertie finally retires for the night.  His wife is still awake.  She finds him in a jovial mood because he loved the stories FDR told him.  Moreover, the President listened to Bertie's stories.  Elizabeth is scandalized that the King made fun of himself in a story told to the President, but Bertie defends himself by saying that the President made fun of himself in many of his own stories.  She smokes a cigarette saying:  "I never wanted this life.  It's hard."  Bertie says he knows that.  One good thing was that the President thinks the American people can be persuaded to help the British when war starts in Europe.  Elizabeth insists that Bertie is wrong.  She says the people here in America are from everywhere and they all hate the British.  In fact, they want to see Britain fall on its face.  But this time, a more confident Bertie stands up to Elizabeth saying that's just not true and what they need to be is more confident with the Americans. 

Oh, and one last thing.  Bertie says that the President is very happy that he is King.  Elizabeth seems a bit dazed by this new, more confident and happier, Bertie. 

Daisy is still awake.  She gets dressed and drives the car.  She stops over at the secret house FDR had built for her.  She misses the president.  She smokes a cigarette sitting on the porch outside.  It looks like the President is inside the house.  A guard comes around and flashes his light in her face.  He wants to know why she is out here?  The President can't see her now.  Daisy and the guard know each other and she is surprised to find out that the president is in "their" secret place.  The President's secretary comes outside on the porch still buttoning up her sweater.  Oooh, this doesn't look good for Daisy.  Missy asks Daisy if she wants to see the President?

Daisy panics and starts running as fast as she can toward her car.  The guard and Missy start chasing after her.  The guard stumbles on a bush, but Missy keeps pursuing Daisy.  Daisy falls and rolls down a hill, but she makes it to her car.  The problem is that Missy is already in the back seat of the car.  She tells Daisy to stop and listen to her.  Missy says she knows the President and her have been intimate.  And she knows what the President told her and also knows this is upsetting to Daisy.  She adds:  "But I've accepted it.  Like you will.  I'm a part of his life and I accept that you are, too."  And there have been other women, like Dorothy Schiff.  Eleanor caught the President, too.  This was many years ago.  The woman was Mrs. Rutherford. 

Daisy goes to the President.  The President's mother tells Daisy that her son won't go to bed.  He is waiting for Daisy in his office.  FDR apologizes for not having invited Daisy to the dinner with the King and Queen.  Daisy asks if the President thinks she's stupid?  No.  Does he think she's a whore?  No.  Daisy leaves. 

The King and Queen are awake and trying to figure out who's who in the life of FDR.  They figure he must have at least a couple of mistresses.  They keep watch out the window as the drama unfolds.  FDR comes out and Elizabeth is afraid they will be seen.  But it's Missy who spots them and mentions it to FDR.  FDR just remains calm and shouts good morning to the couple.  Seeing as they have definitely been caught, the King opens up his upstairs window and shouts down that it's a beautiful morning. 

The King and FDR go swimming in the morning. 

The picnic is held at the supposedly secret house in the woods.  FDR drove the Royal Couple to the picnic and shook them up royally.  The Queen tells her aide that they will not be driving with the President again.  The press is there taking photos.  The King takes some home movies for himself of the crowd.  Daisy is at the picnic but at the opposite end of all the picnic tables.  The President sends his aide to bring Daisy over to his table.   

Native Americans sing, dance and play their music for the crowd.  And then comes the highlight of the day: the eating of the hot dogs.   The King takes a hot dog and bun and the President has Daisy apply some mustard on the King's hot dog. The people give a round of applause to the King as he takes a big bite out of his dog.  Daisy comments:  "And like that, we felt America and England were back on the road to being very good friends."

After the King and Queen leave, the King writes the President that now a "special relationship" has been forged between the United States and Britain. 

Daisy stays away from the president for a full week, so FDR has to drive himself out there to see her.  Daisy as narrator says:  "I had been waiting."  And sometimes Missy would come out to pick her up when she felt the President needed Daisy present.  Daisy grows close to Missy and to all of Franklin's boys

Three years later.  Narrator Daisy says she watched as Franklin turned tired and frail and then ill. 

"In a time, not so very long ago, when the world still allowed itself secrets, Franklin Roosevelt was mine."

"FDR eventually kept his promise and by 1942 Britain and the United States were fighting shoulder to shoulder.  When Daisy died in her hundredth year, a box of letters and diaries was found under her bed.  Her special relationship with the President, was, finally, no longer just their secret."

 

 

Fascinating look into just one of the many extra-marital affairs that FDR had during his marriage to Eleanor.  Along with the affair, we get to see how FDR conducted himself while back home at Hyde Park, Duchess County, New York.  He seems to be a bigger-than-life character who enjoyed his stays at Hyde Park during the days of his presidency.  We also get a close look at the affair with Daisy and the interaction between the two.  She had to adjust to the fact that Franklin had other mistresses, including his private secretary Missy.  The movie also gives us insight into the relationship between FDR and the King and Queen of England, when they were trying to establish good relationships with the United States as WWII grew ever closer to Britain.  Bill Murray was terrific as the President and Laura Linney as Daisy also gave a great performance.   all around the acting was good. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

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