“Hyde Park on the Hudson” is the story of King George and Queen Elizabeth’s visit to President Roosevelt’s summer White House on the eve of the outbreak of World War 2.
Bill Murray does an outstanding job as Roosevelt, and in a subplot, the always charming and capable Laura Linney plays a distance cousin of Roosevelt, who becomes one of his (apparently many) paramours. (If you haven’t seen Linney’s dark sitcom, “The Big C”, on Showtime make it a point to rent or stream it. Oliver Platt is also grand in that one).
This event marks the first time in history that a British King has visited the US, and George has just ascended to the crown after his brother’s abdication; you can learn more about that historical event in the wonderful film “The King’s Speech”, starring one of this generation’s brightest stars, Colin Firth.
George isn’t a confident King, and is nervous about seeking the US’s help in the inevitable conflict against Germany. He, and more particularly Elizabeth, seek out every nuance of the visit, analyze it, and decided that Roosevelt’s intent is to make fun of them and their subjects. The peak of the humiliation, they believe, will come during a picnic hosted by FDR, at which he plans to serve hot dogs, a food which royalty believes should be reserved for the lowest class of commoners.
In a late night drinking session, FDR confesses to George that there is no slight intended with the choice of cuisine, just that they are damned fine picnic food.
At the event the next day, the King accepts his first hot dog, an ample sized sausage atop a bun, with some trepidation; FDR asks Linney to demonstrate to the King how to properly dress it with condiments, and she gingerly dabs a streak of French’s yellow mustard on the meat.
The crowd waits with anticipation. King George takes a bite, smiles, and the crowd goes wild; George takes another bite and says “I believe I will have another.”
Ok, this really wasn’t the point of the movie, but it was my favorite part.
The film is skillfully written, directed, acted, and beautifully shot, and is worth a couple hours of your time, whether you like hot dogs or not!