JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 1958HBO PORTRAYS LBJ AS HEROIC BUT FLAWED
Austin, Texas (JFK+50) "All the Way," HBO's drama about President Lyndon Baines Johnson, premiered Saturday night, May 21, 2016. Actor Bryan Cranston* does a masterful job of portraying the 36th President of the United States as both a heroic but flawed human being.
In his news article, "Study in contrast," Neal Justin of the Minneapolis Star Tribune quotes screenwriter Robert Schenkkan as saying...
"If you asked any of the individuals who worked with Johnson...they would say...'He was the kindest, cruelest, most selfless, selfish son of a b----, warmhearted, conniving, lying, decent man I ever met.'"
Mr. Justin writes that Bryan Cranston not only researched his role heavily, but also spent "two long nights locked inside the LBJ Presidential Library searching for the key to unlock the man."
It was during those nightly visits that Mr. Cranston came across a letter written by Mrs. John F. Kennedy to President Johnson the day after her husband was buried at Arlington. The letter reads...
"Dear Mr. President,
I want to thank you for writing these lovely letters to my two children about their father and how much you loved and respected him. They don't know it now, but they will appreciate it in the future."
Bryan Cranston was much impressed that a man who had just been given "the most pressure-packed job in the world" would take the time to sit down and write those letters to JFK's children. He said, "That spoke to me."
JFK+50, we have to admit, is particularly hard to impress when it comes to dramas about historical personalities, but in this case we agree with Neal Justin. Bryan Cranston does the best job of any actor we have seen of portraying President Johnson. His appearance, his expressions, and even his words are pure LBJ.
We also are impressed by HBO's attention to detail in the Kennedy Oval Office. It would have been easy to overlook the fact that the Oval Office had undergone a major redecoration while the President was in Texas. The green carpet and drapes which had been in place since JFK moved in were replaced with red carpet and white drapes. HBO captured that perfectly as LBJ gingerly walks into that office for the first time as president.
Bryan Lee Cranston was born on March 7, 1956 in Los Angeles to parents who were both actors. BLC earned an associate degree in police science at Los Angeles Valley College in 1976. He was ordained as a minister in the Universal Life Church.
BLC's credits include a major role in Saving Private Ryan, winning a Drama-Logue Award for The Steven Weed Show & playing 'Hal' in the comedy seiries 'Malcolm in the Middle.'
"All the Way," HBO Television Movie, starring Bryan Cranston, Home Box Office, May 21, 2016
"Study in contrasts," by Neal Justin, Knoxville News-Sentinel, Trends, May 23, 2016, www.knoxnews.com/