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Warm Springs
Warm Springs
Actors: Kenneth Branagh, Cynthia Nixon, David Paymer, Tim Blake Nelson, Matt O'Leary
Director: Joseph Sargent
Genres: Drama, Television
UR     2005     2hr 1min

He was the only president to be elected three times, and is admired for his leadership during some of this nation's most challenging times, most notably, World War II and the Great Depression. Despite these historic accomp...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Kenneth Branagh, Cynthia Nixon, David Paymer, Tim Blake Nelson, Matt O'Leary
Director: Joseph Sargent
Creators: Robbie Greenberg, Michael Brown, Celia D. Costas, Chrisann Verges, Juanita F. Diana, Mark Gordon, Margaret Nagle
Genres: Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Drama, All Made-for-TV Movies
Studio: HBO
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/30/2005
Original Release Date: 04/30/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 04/30/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 1min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Traitor to his class?
Hal Owen | Burbank, California USA | 10/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Sometimes refered to as that charming cripple in the White House, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was many things to many people. He was a strong leader as evidenced by winning the presidency four times, a friendly voice as evidenced by countless radio broadcasts called "fireside chats" but first and foremost, he was a man of great determination as evidenced by the splendid HBO Production, "Warm Springs." Other reviews on this thread credit the wonderful cast and crew of "Warm Springs" so rather then repeat much that's already been said, let me say thanks to HBO for having the courage to produce such a moving and inspirational chapter of our history. F.D.R. was called many things during his life, a socialist, a political opportunist, even a traitor to his class for the federal programs he initiated such as rural electrification, a government insured banking system and social security. Viewing the HBO production "Warm Springs," will help you understand why F.D.R. was also known as a humanist."
Understanding FDR: Physical Challenges Offer Triumph
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"WARM SPRINGS is one of the finest films ever produced by HBO and clearly belongs on the theatrical screens. But until that happens the news of the release of the DVD should allow those who missed this phenomenal film to feel greeted with well-earned joy.

Writer Margaret Nagle and Director Joseph Sargent have created an isolated time in the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the inception of his polio at age 39 and the treatment of his impairment at Warm Springs, Georgia, and use this potential tragedy to demonstrate how a man of means and high political aspirations was humbled by a debilitating disease only to find healing and consolation at the hands of 'the common people', a change in his priorities that marked his popular success as a President who inherited the leadership of a country devastated by depression and war.

Kenneth Branagh is superlative as FDR, finding just the right amount of bravado and churlishness and womanizing while continuing to be the man of great potential and a loving husband to Eleanor (a surprisingly terrific Cynthia Nixon). His overbearing mother Sara Delano Roosevelt (Jane Alexander who is still remembered as a perfect 'Eleanor' in the older 'Franklin and Eleanor') tries her best to belittle Eleanor, only to enhance Eleanor's blossoming into the world respected, humanistic First Lady she became.

But much of the action is aptly placed at the healing resort of Warm Springs, a run down hot springs operated by Tom Loyless (Tim Blake Nelson) and the place where Helena Mahoney (Kathy Bates) nursed FDR back to health. The importance of this spot grows through the film and through FDR's life and in the end it is the beneficiary of his estate.

Watching Branagh tumble from political barnstormer to reluctant patient to humanized President is a heartwarming venture. His supporting cast is excellent - Bates, Nixon, Alexander, Nelson as well as David Paymer, Deborah Calloway Duke, Danny Connell, and many others. The direction by Joseph Sargent is one of simplicity, purity of purpose, and highly respectful of his story and his view of history. This is an important film. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, June 05"
"But I'm married to you and you are my life"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"One of the first questions I asked about Warm Springs, HBO's biopic of Franklin D. Roosevelt was how did Kenneth Branagh get his legs to look like a polio victim? If it's makeup it's amazing, and if it's digital photography it's even more amazing. But kudos should also be given to the wonderful Branagh, who as a Brit., transforms himself into the ill-stricken president with consummate ease.

Rather than focus on Roosevelt's political life, Warm Springs chooses instead to deal with his valiant fight to overcome the effects of polio, dealing with his life from 1920 to 1928. It's a valiant and stirring production with an insightful teleplay, a stellar cast, and a superb director that coalesces it all to bring forth a rich and inspirational film.

The year is 1921 and Roosevelt then thirty-nine, attends a summer camp for boy scouts. He washes his face with some contaminated water, contracting polio, a disease that rarely struck adults. It left him with paralyzed legs and little hope for the future. With a small glimmer of hope, he traveled to a rundown resort in rural Georgia for a possible cure from exercise in a pool filled by the warm mineral waters.

There, among the rural poor and other people with crippling disabilities, in what must have seemed like a completely different universe, FDR discovers his own humanity. It is this humanity and his innate sympathy for the common man that helps shape his democratic leanings.

Although the power of the warm springs never rehabilitated Roosevelt, or gave him the "miracle" cure, the positive energy that emanated from the other polio survivors gave the man a new lease on life. He ended up being instrumental in the conversion of Warm Springs from a backwater hellhole to a streamlined, ultra-efficiently managed polio-treatment center, a mecca for hundreds of thousands of others who had been crippled by the debilitating illness.

Kenneth Branagh gives a towering performance as Roosevelt, showing him as a fighter, who hides, dreams and, with the help of a few others, regains the will to be a political leader. More than that, he is convincing as, bit by bit, the inexperienced, self absorbed and somewhat philandering patrician gives way to a man of uncommon passion and heightened sensitivity.

Cynthia Nixon is also good as Eleanor Roosevelt, who broadens her own horizons and conquers her own fears. She proves herself to be a loyal and faithful wife, even when Franklin asks her whether she can really have a happy life with him being so crippled.

The supporting players are also strong with Jane Alexander playing as his over-protective and snobbish mother Sara; David Paymer as his crusty chief aide Louis Howe; Kathy Bates as his no-nonsense physical therapist Helena Mahoney; and Tim Blake Nelson as Tom Loyless, the man in charge of Warm Springs.

Warm Springs embraces the complexity of the situation by simultaneously approaching the story from personal, social, medical, and even political perspectives. And the film cleverly avoids the saccharine and overly sentimental. The intelligent and carefully scripted dialogue is both revealing and thought provoking. The set design is remarkably faithful to the period, and the costumes are beautifully recreated.

Perhaps Warm Springs is most significant for showing us how Roosevelt removed the stigma of polio from the public consciousness, forever abolishing the misguided notions that the disease adversely affected the brain, that it could be spread merely by physical contact, or that it represented some kind of moral punishment for the "sins" of the victim. But this fine film is also significant for showing how one man could beat all the odds and go on to become one of the United States of America's greatest presidents. Mike Leonard September 05.
Waitsel Smith | Atlanta, GA USA | 09/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've been a Kenneth Branagh fan for years. (I always struggle with the spelling.) I watched him make his feature directorial debut in Henry V and thought, "This man is destined for greatness." He was young, talented and had great vision and drive. He had been solid in Fortunes of War before that and interesting in Dead Again after. I loved his labor of joy in Much Ado About Nothing; but, unfortunately, I hated his interest in the macabre in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I have watched him go from project to project through the years, evidently trying to find his creative self or the right part. Some of them were worthless roles - like Dr. Loveless in Wild, Wild, West; some were thankless - like Professor Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Even his role as Shackleton in the A&E miniseries by that name somehow didn't quite ring true. Then Warm Springs came along about a forty-something Franklin Delano Roosevelt: a part that seemed to be made for him - and he filled it perfectly.

If his portrayal of FDR isn't his best performance to date, it has to be one of his top two or three. He's magnificent. I felt I was watching Roosevelt himself. The role is full of the ups and downs of a good dramatic piece, with his character going from youthful joy, to tragic despair, to newfound optimism, to blind determination, back to joyful victory. He shows a broad range of life experiences in that one role, and pulls it off beautifully.

Franklin starts off as a wealthy politician with the world at his feet, totally oblivious to the feelings or circumstances of others, including his wife. He then discovers he has polio - infantile paralysis - and his life is thrown into a tailspin. After a bout with self-pity, he agrees to check himself into an obscure and run-down health spa in Warm Springs, Georgia - the other side of nowhere for a man of his background. It takes a lot to humble him, to get him to care for others and to start believing in his own recovery - but he finally makes the transition, with the help of the goodhearted proprietor of Warm Springs, Tom Loyless, played touchingly by Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou). He's also bolstered in his quest by the handicapped residents of the spa, many of whom came there because they knew he was there. Before long, they've become one big happy family, with most of the residents on the road to recovery, and Roosevelt turning the failing spa into a successful enterprise. Unfortunately, his own recovery is not so successful, and he must face a future confined to a wheelchair.

The film does not show FDR's presidency; but we are given to understand that what he accomplished at Warm Springs - his attempts at recovery, which helped build his character; his desire to connect with people, which he learned from the other handicapped residents; and his success at turning the Warm Springs spa around - all helped prepare him for his life's greatest challenge: the office of president of the United States. Even though he tried to keep his handicap a secret from the American people through four terms of office, he never lost his heart for the less fortunate, and fought for them throughout the Great Depression and World War II.

I actually got to be in this film and talk with Kenneth Branagh briefly. He seemed very much a man of the people, humble in spirit, in spite of his background - just as Roosevelt became through his tortured journey. I'm not saying Branagh has necessarily suffered as Roosevelt did; but his performance seems to testify to an empathy that could only have come from going through a place similar to Roosevelt's. I think Kenneth Branagh, director Joseph Sargent and writer Margaret Nagle have given us a very special gift in this film, and I don't think you'll ever think of FDR or Branagh in the same way again.

There are other remarkable performances as well, most notably Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City) as Eleanor, and Kathy Bates (About Schmidt) as Helena Mahoney, an innovative physical therapist and friend. Director Sargent has done a superb job utilizing the actual locations of FDR's experiences in Warm Springs, Atlanta and surrounding environs. The entire production is a masterpiece, and very worthy of the sixteen Emmy's it's been nominated for.

Waitsel Smith"