Cast & Crew
Harry W. Smith
In 1803, while negotiating a land deal in Paris, Robert Livingston, the U.S. Minister to France, learns from Charles Talleyrand that Napoleon Bonaparte is insisting that the United States purchase all of the Louisiana Territory, not just New Orleans and west Florida, as originally requested. When Talleyrand further declares that Napoleon, who needs money to finance his war against England, is demanding an immediate answer, Livingston protests that he does not have the authority to make such a decision. Talleyrand continues to press Livingston, who finally agrees to buy the entire Louisiana Territory for fifteen million dollars, on behalf of his country and President Thomas Jefferson. One hundred and fifty years later, the spirit of Livingston decides to visit the Louisiana Territory to see how his purchase helped change the United States: After Livingston notes how the area's natural resources, timber, farmland and oil, enriched the country, he makes a brief aerial tour of major cities within the territory, including Minneapolis, Des Moines, Kansas City and Little Rock. Livingston then focuses on New Orleans, beginning with the historic French Quarter, where shots of Napoleon House and Absinthe House--the oldest continuously operated tavern in America--are shown. Livingston discusses the lives of New Orleans natives John Audobon and Andrew Jackson, and visits the dungeon where pirate Jean Lafitte was incarcerated during the War of 1812. After viewing St. Louis Cathedral and a cemetery with above-ground tombs, the spirit of Livingston marvels at a woman traffic officer, a burlesque theater, tennis and baseball games, a steamboat chugging into port and trains crossing a bridge above the Mississippi River. Livingston then appears at the airport, where he sees George Benton and his sister Jane greeting friend Phylis Caldwell, who has come from Vassar College for the upcoming Mardi Gras celebration. Unknowingly accompanied by the spirit of Livingston, George, Jane and Phylis drive by Tulane University, where George is a medical student, and then home. Later, George and Phylis tour the Bayou Gardens, the port of New Orleans and the Cabildo Museum, the location of the official Louisiana Purchase transfer. Livingston then experiences Mardi Gras preparations, observing how the streets are decorated, the floats created, the masks and costumes constructed and the King and Queen selected. Back at George's house, Phylis, who is smitten with her host, overhears him on the phone, asking a friend to "squire" Phylis for a few days while he spends time with "Susie." Phylis is at first heartbroken, but egged on by the spirit of Livingston, sneaks into George's room and opens his closet. There, to her relief, she finds a teaching skeleton labeled "Susie." Having helped Phylis and George with their romance, Livingston joins the couple during Mardi Gras, enjoying the colorful parades and other festivities. After the last big parade, the spirit of Livingston bids New Orleans goodbye, content in the knowledge that the Louisiana Purchase was indeed a wise decision.
Harry W. Smith
Dal Clawson Jr.
John A. Norling
Harry W. Smith
Harry W. Smith's onscreen credit reads: "Directed and photographed by Harry W. Smith." The following written statement is included in the credits: "All museum scenes in this film were made at the Cabildo of the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans." Also included is the following written historical description: "In 1803, Robert Livingston, U.S. Minister to France, initiated a treaty which did more for the growth of our nation than any other document in our history. This was the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, an epic event now being marked by its Sesqui-Centennial Celebration."
Voice-over narration spoken by Val Winter as his character, "Robert Livingston," is heard intermittently throughout the film. The actor also appears in many of the scenes in period costume, and occasionally addresses the audience. Although most of the sequences were shot without sound, a few scenes include dialogue. According to reviews, the film was shot in color and 3-D. The viewed print, however, was in flat, black and white. The Variety reviewer commented on the prominent placement of a Chrysler convertible in the picture and suggested that the Chrysler Corp. May have "participated" in the film's financing. No other source mentions Chrysler as a backer, however.