Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Gabriel Over the White House

US movie (1933). MGM/Cosmopolitan. Pr Walter Wanger. Dir Gregory LaCava. Screenplay Bertram Bloch, Carey Wilson. Based on Rinehard (1933) by Thomas F Tweed. Starring Walter Huston (President Judson Hammond), Karen Morley (Pendola Molloy), Franchot Tone (Hartley Beekman). 87 mins. B/w.

Elected for unkeepable promises, new US President Hammond settles in for a term of laissez-faire: huge unemployment, widespread starvation, rampant organized crime, etc., are none of his concern, being merely local issues; people must stand on their own two feet (in short, as much later a UK Prime Minister would say, "there is no such thing as society"). But a car crash puts him in a coma, and he emerges as an altered character, seemingly possessed (see Possession) by the Angel Gabriel. Assisted by secretary Beekman and ex-mistress (soon to be Beekman's fiancée) Molloy, he takes direct action to end unemployment and poverty, to eradicate gangsters (by firing squad) and to attain world disarmament and thereby inaugurate universal peace. At this achievement, he dies. This bizarre political fantasy is surprisingly socialist in tone (albeit veering towards National Socialism). [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.