Hyde Park on Hudson

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Hyde Park on Hudson
Hyde park on hudson poster.jpg
Directed by Roger Michell
Produced by David Aukin
Kevin Loader
Written by Richard Nelson
Starring Bill Murray
Laura Linney
Music by Jeremy Sams
Cinematography Lol Crawley
Edited by Nicolas Gaster
Distributed by Focus Features
Release dates
  • 31 August 2012 (2012-08-31) (Telluride)
  • 1 February 2013 (2013-02-01) (UK)
Running time
95 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $8,887,603[2]

Hyde Park on Hudson is a 2012 British biographical historical comedy-drama film directed by Roger Michell. The film stars Bill Murray and Laura Linney as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Margaret "Daisy" Suckley, respectively. It was based on Suckley’s private journals and diaries, discovered after her death,[3][4][5] about her love affair with and intimate details about President Roosevelt.[4][5]


In spring 1939, Sara Delano, the mother of Franklin D. Roosevelt, asks his sixth cousin Margaret "Daisy" Suckley to visit the ill President of the United States at their country estate in Hyde Park, New York. Although Daisy and Roosevelt had not seen each other for years, the distant relatives form a romantic relationship, and Roosevelt often asks Daisy to visit Hyde Park when he stays with his mother. Daisy becomes one of the several women close to Roosevelt, including Sara; Missy LeHand, the president's secretary; and Eleanor, the president's wife. Despite his power, the president is often unable to control the other women; the quiet, shy Daisy is his confidante, and he tells her that Top Cottage will be their shared refuge after his presidency.

In June 1939, King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, visit the United States, during which they stay with the Roosevelts at Hyde Park. The British hope that the visit will improve the chances of American support during the future war with Germany. George—who is king because his brother Edward VIII abdicated—is nervous, because of the importance of the visit, because he stutters, and because of having to eat a hot dog for the first time at a picnic in his honor. Roosevelt reassures George by citing his own inability to walk, and observes that others do not see their handicaps because "it's not what they want to see." The president tells the king that he hopes to overcome Americans' reluctance to help Britain.

The night the king and queen arrive, Daisy sees LeHand having an affair with Roosevelt. LeHand tells a shocked Daisy that their respective relationships with the president are not his only ones, mentioning Dorothy Schiff and Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, and that Daisy must accept sharing Roosevelt with other women. At the picnic the next day, the king successfully eats a hot dog for a photo op, and Daisy in a voiceover states that the visit helped the two countries form a Special Relationship. Daisy rejects Roosevelt's requests to see her until he visits her himself; they reconcile, and Daisy accepts her role as one of the president's mistresses. As years pass, Daisy watches Roosevelt become frail as a wartime leader; nonetheless everyone, she says, "still [looked] to him, still seeing whatever it was they wanted to see."

Main cast[edit]


Screenwriter Richard Nelson was inspired by the story of Daisy Suckley after reading a posthumously published collection of her letters and diaries. He felt drawn to the story because of the unique perspective Daisy offered on a series of important historical events. He also connected with the setting, since Nelson lives in Rhinebeck and had even met Daisy briefly before she died in 1991.

Originally conceived as an idea for a film, Nelson's choice of director, Roger Michell, proved immediately unavailable. Nelson re-worked the script as a radio play, which was produced by the BBC in 2009, directed by Ned Chaillet. Once Michell became available, production began on the film.[6]

In early March 2011, director Michell started searching for U.S. actors to play President Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt.[7] Bill Murray agreed to play Roosevelt in late March.[8] Production designer Simon Bowles created upstate New York in England where the entire film was shot.


Hyde Park on Hudson had its world premiere at the 2012 Telluride Film Festival on 31 August 2012, then at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2012, and again at the 2012 Savannah Film Festival on 31 October 2012, with limited release in the United States on 5[9] and 7 December 2012, and wide release in January 2013. The UK release followed on 1 February 2013.

Critical reception[edit]

The film has received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 37% "rotten" rating based on 150 reviews.[10] On Metacritic, the film holds a 55/100 rating, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[11]

The A.V. Club named it one of the worst movies of 2012, criticizing "the slapdash manner in which it’s assembled is genuinely shocking" and its "prevailing idiocy."[12]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times enjoyed the film, giving it 3-and-a-half stars out of 4 and said of Murray's performance: "Murray, who has a wider range than we sometimes realize, finds the human core of this FDR and presents it tenderly." Richard Brody of The New Yorker also praises film, saying although the movie is not great, it "has a particular kind of merit... It conveys something of a transparent experience, suggesting that the power of the subject escapes the attempt to contain it in a film and makes its way directly—albeit incidentally or even accidentally—to the viewer."[13]

Bill Murray's performance as Roosevelt did garner praise, as he received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy.

Production designer Simon Bowles won an award from the British Film Designers Guild on 27 January 2013 for his production design on this film.

Criticism of the depiction of history[edit]

During World War II, Suckley often stayed for long visits at the White House, keeping the president company. Roosevelt is known to have had an affair with Lucy Mercer during World War I. However, there is no direct evidence that he had a similar relationship with Suckley,[3][4][5] though there was an emotional connection.[4][5] Roosevelt apparently instructed Suckley to burn at least some of the letters he wrote to her,[3] which has fueled speculation about their content.

Focusing on how the historical events and people are portrayed, Conrad Black, author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, said the film took "large, ... sometimes scurrilous, liberties with historical facts."[14] In particular, he stated the movie erred in its depiction both of Roosevelt's relationship with women and of Eleanor Roosevelt's sexuality.[14]

Footage of the real events was filmed by Pathe News.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'Hyde Park on Hudson". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Hyde Park on Hudson at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b c Ireland, Barbara (7 September 2007), "At the Home of FDR's Secret Friend", New York Times, retrieved 12 May 2010 
  4. ^ a b c d Starr, William (9 April 1995), "New Woman Surfaces as FDR Intimate", The State (Columbia, SC) 
  5. ^ a b c d Swindell, Larry (7 May 1995), "Papers found after Margaret Suckley's death reveal deep friendship with FDR", Fort Worth Star-Telegram 
  6. ^ Hyde Park screenwriter discusses his inspiration and Bill Murray Newsday[dead link]
  7. ^ "Film4 Hunting For Its President Roosevelt". Deadline. 25 March 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  8. ^ "Bill Murray to play President Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson". Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "Focus Features "Hyde Park on Hudson"". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  10. ^ Hyde Park on Hudson at Rotten Tomatoes
  11. ^ Hyde Park on Hudson at Metacritic
  12. ^ The worst films of 2012, The A.V. Club, 20 December 2012, Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  13. ^ Brody, Richard (15 December 2012). ""Hyde Park on Hudson" and history lessons". The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Black, Conrad (2 January 2013). "FDR and Lincoln on Screen". National Review Online. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  15. ^ "Archive Footage of events". Pathe. 

External links[edit]