The Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue (TV Movie 1996) Poster

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The Human Touch Given A Failed Presidency
bkoganbing5 December 2009
This heartwarming tale about three plucky Depression era kids who hitchhiked to Washington to see President Herbert Hoover to get their father out of jail for Christmas is a real tearjerker now, but all too real for people barely subsisting during those hard economic times. The real story though is the story about how that story got out to the general public.

Just about any other president including the last several we had of both parties would have played this up to the hilt. Hoover was going into what was an unsuccessful re-election campaign and being portrayed as an unfeeling, uncaring incumbent. This kind of story would have been a godsend to his political managers.

But Hoover was a strange and silent man, his concept of the Presidency was that he was the CEO of the country and his Board of Directors was his Cabinet. It's how he conducted his mining business, it's how he got the food to a starving Europe during and post World War I. Read his memoirs, they read like reports to his stockholders covering his years of government service. He was a painfully shy man and resolutely silent in enduring criticism, he totally flubbed the public relations aspect of the presidency.

This story gained the light of day when it was published in the memoirs of Hoover's Press Secretary Theodore Joslin. The book is called Hoover off the record and you might find it in a used bookshop or as a library discard. Joslin was a newspaperman who served in the last two years of his presidency from 1931-1933. The memoir shows a most human side of Hoover and this story of the kids was one of many included.

In 1934 when the book came out, Herbert Hoover was in need of all the good publicity he could get. But instead of thanking Joslin, he cut him off completely and never spoke to him again. This very private man felt he was betrayed instead of helped. Go figure.

As for the story itself the film The Angel Of Pennsylvania Avenue is almost Dickensian in nature as these young people, three steps from an Oliver Twist like existence, travel through the highways and byways of Depression America to see the man in the White House. You could easily see Charles Dickens writing a story like this about some ragamuffin urchins trying to see Queen Victoria on a personal matter. She might not have been amused, but she would have been touched as Hoover was and I was.

Robert Urich and Diana Scarwid play the parents and the kids are Teagan Moss, Britney Irvin, and Alexander Pollock. They reminded a little of my own nieces and nephew when they were a bit younger. They're a perfect Norman Rockwell American family. And of course some mention must be given to Thomas Peacocke playing Herbert Hoover. A fascinating man and we learn many times more from failed presidencies than from the successful ones.
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I've watched this film many times & love it
flicka5515 August 2006
This is a true story with quite a few twists on reality but well done & fun to watch. Bernice Feagan was my mother & we had no idea that a story had been written about her adventure until we saw it on cable.She passed away in 1998 and never did figure out how it was made without her knowledge.In reality, she contacted President Hoover at age 13 to have my grandfather pardoned from prison for car theft and she and one of her younger brothers & sisters ( Ray & Irene ) went with her to Washington on a Greyhound bus supplied by the company owner probono. She did meet with Hoover & her & her siblings appeared in many major newspapers in big photographs, likely a publicity stunt as no one was happy with Hoover in 1932 in the throws of depression. He pardoned my grandpa ( Charles Feagan , not Angus) & shortly thereafter mom's mom died from appendicitis. My mother became the new mother of 5 little siblings & lived a very hard life as my grandpa was disabled with Parkinson's disease. the true story of my mom's life was very interesting and I am writing about it now. Hopefully a movie can be made about her real life. She was very tough but loving. John
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A wonderful movie that is semi-historical with story and with depression-era settings
GryByteman27 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I loved this the first time I saw it, and I saw it even more this time.

This is a feel-good movie that is based on a real-life incident, though I understand that the real Bernice Feagan actually took a bus from Detroit to Washington, with support from others. But it was wonderful imagining that three kids could try to travel on their own without the help.

The actual charge was different. Their father was in jail for car theft, not murder, but again, that does not detract from the movie.

What's wonderful about the movie is that it gives a fairly accurate (if dramatic fictional) look at the times, Hooverville's did exist, hobos did ride the rails, and there was an entire network of information that helped people know what R.R. stops had the worst reputations for arresting the rail-riders.

They even managed to include the dangers of hitchhiking. Don't ride with drunks, and strangers might take advantage of children (and adults) traveling alone.

I will watch this excellent movie again in years to come. It is a wonderful movie that is semi-historical both with the story and with its depression-era settings.

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A heart warming movie from a depression era Christmas.
davisholidays-200-54825518 November 2014
I enjoy watching this sweet movie. The story is family friendly, with close family ties during a difficult time. The children are just adorable. The people they meet during their adventure are wonderful and add to the interesting journey. This is a unique and very uplifting Christmas story. The closeness of the people in this film make it a very favorite of mine. This movie is set back when America was a very different time. This is my most favorite Christmas time movie. This would make a great holiday tradition, sitting around the t.v. watching it with family members. It can also be an easy way to educate children today of the way things were in America back then.
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Worth Seeing
Christmas-Reviewer20 October 2016
During the Great Depression, an unemployed Detroit man is arrested for a crime he didn't commit, prompting his three children to travel 1,000 miles to the White House in search of help from President Herbert Hoover in order to have their father home for Christmas.

The Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue is an American 1996 television film directed by Robert Ellis Miller. It was nominated for two Young Artist Awards in 1997.[1] The film was completed days before actor Robert Urich had surgery for cancer.

The film is told from the point of view from the oldest child. We see the events through her eyes and can't help but to route for her even though she is putting her siblings in danger.

I will watch it again if given the chance!
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This is my favorite!
Yuki-623 March 1999
It was so cool that 3 sibs run away from home to rescue their father. 3 sibs were just like us, and it was so fun to watch. I loved the young Kansas man very much.
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Great Movie
collenegandy2 October 2017
I love watching this movie every year. I always loved Robert Ulrich. He was such a great actor. The movie is well made and I'm not surprised that it's based on a true story. They should show this movie more often during Christmas. The Great Depression was such a horrible time for everyone. I think we even feel it today's economy. Pres Hoover said that the people would have a chicken in every pot. But people were going hungry while looking for work.
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Emotional Christmas fluff...
dwpollar25 December 2009
1st watched 12/24/2009 – 4 out of 10 (Dir-Robert Ellis Miller): Emotional Christmas fluff that doesn't really get specific enough to explain how the real story happened in this factual-based incident of a man who is wrongly put in jail trying to get a job for his family to make Christmas happen for them. The three kids in the family then run away from home on a trek to Washington D.C. to enlist the then President of the United States, Herbert Hoover. This trek provides some side stories like their positive encounters with a hobo and a puppeteer, which makes the story kind of like a Disney "animals on the run" movie and doesn't quite fit here. At the ending, there isn't any details given as to how the President helped the family and this is another downpoint to the movie, in my opinion. The movie does eventually bring tears, but it takes too long to get to this. The movie isn't supposed to have been an original TV movie(according to IMDb) but it has the obvious fade-outs that make it look this way – so I'm not sure their information is accurate. All in all, this is a simple movie(that could have been more complex) with a happy Christmas-like story but blandly played and without a lot of substance.
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Poorly done, unconvincing
onrecess10 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This might be the poorest example of amateur propaganda ever made. The writers and producers should study the German films of the thirties and forties. They knew how to sell. Even soviet-style clunky leader as god-like father-figure were better done. Disappointing. The loss of faith, regained in church at last second just in time for daddy to be "saved" by the Hoover/God was not too bad. Unfortunately, it seemed rushed and not nearly melodramatic enough. A few misty heavenlier shots of the angelical Hoover up in the corner of the screen-beaming and nodding- would have added a lot. The best aspect is Hoover only saving the deserving family and children WHO had "proven" their worth. Unfortunately, other poor homeless were portrayed as likable and even good- yet the Hoover-God doesn't help them. A better approach would have been shots of them drinking spirits to show the justice of their condition. Finally, bright and cheerful scenes of recovery (after Hoover saved the country from the depression) should have rolled at the end. We could see then how Hoover-God had saved not just THIS deserving family, but all the truly deserving. Amateurist at best.
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