Magnificent Yankee, The (1950): John Sturges’ Biopic Starring Louis Calhern as Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes


Louis Calhern, who usually played supporting roles (John Huston’s Asphalt Jungle), repeated his Broadway role as Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in this 1950 Hollywood version of Emmet Lavery’s stage play “The Magnificent Yankee.”

The film is for the most part confined to the Holmes home in Washington, where the good gray judge parries affectionately with his level-headed wife Fanny (Ann Harding).

Several historical personalities appear, including jurist Louis Brandeis (Eduard Franz) and novelist Owen Wister (Philip Ober).

The death of his wife (played by Oscar nominee Ann Harding) devastates Holmes, though he would serve his country for forty years.

In 1965, there was a TV production of Magnificent Yankee, starring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.

Louis Calhern made his debut in 1921

Oscar Nominations: 2
Actor: Louis Calhern
Costume Design (black/white): Walter Plunkett

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner was Jose Ferrer for playing the titular role in Cyrano de Bergerac.