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Film / The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band

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Let's put it over with Grover!
Don't rock the boat! Give him your vote!
Give your vote to a man who's a leader of men
Let's put Grover over again!
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The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band is a 1968 Disney live-action musical film featuring (of course) songs by The Sherman Brothers. It stars Walter Brennan, Buddy Ebsen, Lesley Ann Warren, and John Davidson, with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn appearing in early bit parts. In fact, this was Hawn's film debut.

The year is 1888, and Grover Cleveland, the Democratic president, is running for re-election against Republican challenger Benjamin Harrison. The titular musical family, the Bowers, is politically divided, with Grandpa being a Democrat while his son Calvin is a Republican. Grandpa is outraged when Alice, Calvin's eldest daughter, starts dating Joe Carder, who runs a Republican newspaper. Joe persuades the family to join him out west in the Dakota Territory, and they do so. However, even Dakota is the subject of a partisan fight. It's expected that Dakotans will vote Republican, so the Republicans want to admit Dakota to the Union as two states, in order to give themselves more representation in Congress, whereas the Democrats would obviously prefer that it be one state. In a Dakotan town that is indeed overwhelmingly Republican, Grandpa's outspoken Democratic views get him into increasing trouble. Will everyone be able to come together as Americans despite their differing politics?

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This was the last film for which Walt Disney himself played a major role in the development process. He lived long enough to approve the screenplay and the songs but died before production began.


This film has the examples of:

  • An Aesop: Don't let politics poison your relationships with good people who have different opinions.
  • Assumed Win: The town initially thinks that Cleveland won re-election because he got the most votes, only to be interrupted with the news that Harrison won according to the Electoral College. You'd think they'd realize that might happen considering that's how Rutherford B. Hayes won just twelve years earlier. For its part, the movie treats this as a kind of Twist Ending. After all, the 1888 election was, as of 1968, the most recent election in which this occurred, and it was eighty years earlier. For viewers watching this in The New '20s, it is, for better or for worse, a much more familiar phenomenon.
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  • Ban on Politics: In-universe. Katie has a ban on discussing politics in the house, not that it does much good. Later on, Calvin convinces Grandpa to stop talking politics period since it's causing so much drama and mostly to the detriment of Alice.
  • Band of Relatives: Apparently, the one and only, genuine, original one.
  • The Gilded Age: Set in 1888, against the backdrop of the presidential election that year.
  • Hollywood Costuming: Alice's clothing may be decently Victorian, but her hair and makeup is straight out of That Girl.
  • Insistent Terminology: Grandpa says that The American Civil War ought to be known as the War Between the States. He fought in the war and insists there was nothing civil about it.
  • Long Title: And to make it worse, there's no obvious way to shorten it to something catchier. How are you even supposed to refer to this movie offhand?
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Grandpa, a Democrat, disapproves of Alice's relationship with Joe, a Republican.
  • Never Trust a Title: The Bower family being a band is barely relevant to the story. Mostly, it just provides an in-universe excuse for some of the musical numbers.
  • No Party Given: Technically averted, but really a Double Subversion of sorts. Characters frequently talk about being Republican or Democrat, but the actual policy differences between the two parties are not discussed much at all. The only political issue of the time that gets discussed in any detail is whether Dakota should be one state or two, and in that case, both parties are taking a position based on electoral self-interest rather than ideology.
  • Politically Motivated Teacher: Grandpa becomes one when he takes over a schoolhouse, much to the indignation of the Republican-dominated town.
  • Schoolmarm: Alice is trying to get a job as one, which is not helped by Grandpa's political shenanigans.
  • Still Fighting the Civil War: Averted. Grandpa fought in the Civil War on the Confederate side, but he feels that the war is over now and that the country should move on. And based on his Cleveland campaign song, he's even come around to admiring Abraham Lincoln.
  • The Wild West: When the family moves out west to the Dakota Territory.


Oh, Benjamin Harrison! He's far beyond comparison!
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