This docudrama was produced for cable by HBO in 1995 based on the 1992 biography of Harry S Truman by David McCullough. The television version follows the book version of presenting Truman as an ordinary man who became President in extraordinary times. The first half of the docudrama shows the rise of Truman from World War I artillery captain to the vice-presidency, including his selection in 1922 as Missouri county judge by Tom Pendergast, buildng roads even though the concrete came from Pendergast, his election in 1934 to the Senate, his leadership of the committee investigating waste and corruption in war defense contracts, the death of FDR. The second half focuses on the presidential years 1945-1953, including the atomic bomb, the desegregation of the military, his recognition of Israel, the 1948 "give-em-hell" whistlestop campaign, Gary Sinise's imitation of Truman's imitation of Kaltenborn's campaign prediction, Truman's feud with Douglas MacArthur in the Korean War, McCarthyism, and ends with his return to Missouri in 1953.


Released in 1995 by Home Box Office as TV docudrama, 127 mins., color with some black-and-white newsreels, mono sound
Directed by Frank Pierson
Produced by Doro Bachrach
Written by David McCullough based on his book Truman, and by Thomas Rickman
Original music by David Mansfield
Cinematography by Paul Elliott
Film Editing by Lisa Fruchtman
Production Design by Stephen Marsh
Art Direction by Gary Kosko
Makeup by Russell Cate
Sound byJames Bolt


Gary Sinise .... Harry S. Truman
Diana Scarwid .... Bess Truman
Richard A. Dysart .... Henry L. Stimson
Nora Denney .... Mother Truman
Colm Feore .... Charlie Ross
James Gammon .... Sam Rayburn
Tony Goldwyn .... Clark Clifford
Pat Hingle .... Boss Tom Pendergast
Harris Yulin .... General George Marshall
Leo Burmester .... Frank Vassar
Amelia Campbell .... Margaret Truman
Virginia Capers .... Elizabeth Moore
John Finn .... Bob Hannagan
Zeljko Ivanek .... Eddie Jacobsen
David Lansbury .... James Pendergast
Remak Ramsey .... Dean Acheson
Marian Seldes .... Eleanor Roosevelt
Lois Smith .... Madge Wallace
Richard Venture .... J. Lester Perry
Daniel von Bargen .... Douglas MacArthur
Jessica Drake .... Woman Reporter


History Department | Filmnotes | revised 4/8/99