MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 16,698 this week

Four Sons (1928)

Passed  -  Drama  -  13 February 1928 (USA)
7.1
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.1/10 from 405 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 4 critic

A family saga in which three of a Bavarian widow's sons go to war for Germany and the fourth goes to America, Germany's eventual opponent.

Director:

Writers:

(adapted by), (story), 3 more credits »
0Check in
0Share...

On Disc

at Amazon

Editors' Spotlight

Alpha House Premieres Today

All ten episodes of the second season of "Alpha House" are available starting today. Watch them now, only on Prime Instant Video.


User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 45 titles
created 01 Jun 2012
 
a list of 39 titles
created 25 Mar 2013
 
a list of 38 titles
created 01 Apr 2013
 
a list of 24 titles
created 12 May 2013
 
a list of 27 titles
created 8 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "Four Sons" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Four Sons (1928)

Four Sons (1928) on IMDb 7.1/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Four Sons.
1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Judge Priest (1934)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Judge Priest, a proud Confederate veteran, uses common sense and considerable humanity to dispense justice in a small town in the Post-Bellum Kentucky.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Will Rogers, Tom Brown, Anita Louise
The Hurricane (1937)
Certificate: Passed Action | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A Polynesian sailor -- unjustly imprisoned after defending himself against a colonial bully -- is relentlessly persecuted by his island's martinet French governor.

Directors: John Ford, Stuart Heisler
Stars: Dorothy Lamour, Jon Hall, Mary Astor
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Newlyweds Gil and Lana Martin try to establish a farm in the Mohawk Valley but are menaced by Indians and Tories as the Revolutinary War begins.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Henry Fonda, Edna May Oliver
Comedy | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

John Ford weaves three "Judge Priest" stories together to form a good- natured exploration of honour and small-town politics in the South around the turn of the century. Judge William ... See full summary »

Director: John Ford
Stars: Charles Winninger, Arleen Whelan, John Russell
Noah's Ark (1928)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The Biblical story of Noah and the Great Flood, with a parallel story of soldiers in the First World War.

Directors: Michael Curtiz, Darryl F. Zanuck
Stars: Dolores Costello, George O'Brien, Noah Beery
Adventure | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

The sons of a disgraced British officer try to clear his name.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Loretta Young, Richard Greene, George Sanders
Strong Boy (1929)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.1/10 X  
Director: John Ford
Stars: Victor McLaglen, Leatrice Joy, J. Farrell MacDonald
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
Director: John Ford
Stars: Gertrude Astor, Peaches Jackson, J. Farrell MacDonald
Air Mail (1932)
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Level headed Mike Miller runs Desert Airport, an air mail base full of daring young pilots risking their lives to get the mail through-regardless of the weather. Following the death of one ... See full summary »

Director: John Ford
Stars: Pat O'Brien, Ralph Bellamy, Gloria Stuart
Rough Romance (1930)
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

Love and logging in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon.

Director: A.F. Erickson
Stars: George O'Brien, Helen Chandler, Antonio Moreno
The Deceiver (1931)
Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

Actor Reginald Thorpe is found dead in his dressing room, stabbed in the back. Suspects abound. John Wayne's only contribution was as a stand-in for the corpse.

Director: Louis King
Stars: Lloyd Hughes, Dorothy Sebastian, Ian Keith
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

Architect Gordon Wales finds fellow apartmenthouse resident Joan Marsh locked out and flirts with her. When she is murdered evidence points to him. He and Joan's roommate Noreen become ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Lanfield
Stars: Loretta Young, Lew Cody, John Wayne
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Margaret Mann ...
Mother Bernle
James Hall ...
Joseph - Her Son
Charles Morton ...
Johann - Her Son
Ralph Bushman ...
Franz - Her Son (as Francis X. Bushman Jr.)
George Meeker ...
Andreas - Her Son
...
Annabelle
Earle Foxe ...
Major von Stomm
Albert Gran ...
The Postman
...
The Schoolmaster
Archduke Leopold of Austria ...
A Captain
Ferdinand Schumann-Heink ...
A Staff Sergeant
Jack Pennick ...
The Iceman
Edit

Storyline

In Burgendorf, Bavaria, Mother Bernle has four sons. Franz is in the army, Johann works at the forge, Andreas tends the sheep. Joseph is riding a hay wagon with a pretty girl when some of the hay falls off, landing on the fearsome Maj. Von Stomm. Joseph gets a slap from the major... The jovial postman has brought a letter from America. Joseph has the offer of a job in the States. But getting there is so expensive... It's Mother Bernle's birthday and most of the town gathers for the dancing. Mother gives Joseph the money she has secreted away. He leaves for the USA... It is "Der Tag", The Day when war is declared. Franz and Johann are excited about their new uniforms. But America is still neutral. Joseph runs the German-American Delicatessen with his new wife Annabelle. The reports of the first German battles with the Russians are good. So why does the postman carry a black-edged letter for Mother Bernle? When America does enter the war, Joseph enlists and meets his friend, the iceman ... Written by David Steele

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

BIG AS THE HEART OF HUMANITY! (original print ad - all caps)

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 February 1928 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cuatro hijos  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Movietone) (musical score and sound effects)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film set a permanent attendance record at New York's Roxy Theater See more »

Goofs

In the New York City sequences, which take place immediately after World War I (1919-1920), all of the women's fashions are strictly in the style of 1928, and all of the automobiles are of late 1920's design. See more »

Connections

Featured in John Ford (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Over There
(1917) (uncredited)
Written by George M. Cohan
Played When America enters the war
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
"The Old World"
1 January 2009 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

In late 1920s Hollywood there was a brief craze for German cinema, especially at Fox, who had recently appropriated FW Murnau. It was no surprise then that, as well as bringing over the genuine article, the studios would also begin cranking out a few pictures that were Germanic in setting if not in style. Four Sons also takes advantage of the trend for World War pictures after the success The Big Parade.

As well as directing Four Sons, John Ford was also the producer, which is bit of a mixed blessing. With the director allowed greater executive control you get all the best and worst of the free-range Ford. As has often been remarked, Ford had "economy of expression" – that is, the ability to convey information and story in as few shots as possible. The flipside of this however is that he did tend to get bogged down with comedy scenes, or in this case restating and reinforcing the sense of rural simplicity and family unity until it becomes more monotonous than moving. The comic moments are particularly weak in this picture – just fat men with moustaches and Prussians with monocles being stereotypically Teutonic.

But one great advantage of having Ford as producer is that the picture is relatively free from unnecessary intertitles. All the great silent directors were of course skilled visual storytellers and Ford is no exception, and of course different screenwriters vary in their wordiness, but the frequency and necessity of intertitles would ultimately be down to whoever was in overall charge of the production. Ford has here cut down the title cards to a minimum, and so we get some great little moments such as the postman turning the first letter over in Mother Bernle's hands to let us know that she cannot read, or the villagers approaching the postman to find out if is their family who is to receive the black envelope – moments which would have been ruined by a load of intertitles in many other productions of this era.

And the visual style of Ford's pictures was by now more or less fully developed. It's interesting to see here how in Ford's world there is no midpoint between town and country. We don't see, for example, the village framed by surrounding hills or fields, or even against the sky. The village itself is the frame and the background, as if to make it an enclosed and totally civilized space. In contrast, whenever Ford shot a scene out in the wilderness he emphasised its openness – although Four Sons never really gets out in the open air so you don't see that here.

While Four Sons may be somewhat awash with sentimentality, Ford's simplistic approach of showing the tenderest moments with delicate shot composition does at least allow the picture some dignity. For example, he uses the overhead light to throw an almost heavenly glow over the family meal scene, then later echoes this with the shot of Mother Bernle grieving in a shaft of daylight. The most effective shot of all though is when Joseph says goodbye to his wife before going off to war. Ford goes against convention by filming the couple from behind in long shot, and the beauty of this moment almost makes me forgive all the other flaws of the picture. It's also a good decision not to show their faces, because James Hall was not a particularly good actor, as we can see in the scene where he returns home again.

In spite these touches of brilliance, the picture as a whole is weakened because it continually bombards us with either sentiment or tragedy. Of course, cinema would be dull indeed without poignancy, but poignancy only works in small doses. Saturate a picture in emotions and the individual tugs lose impact. Four Sons is a good work for Ford the director, but this fact doesn't quite save it from the poor judgment of Ford the producer.


4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
my four sons 1928 survivor6140
Discuss Four Sons (1928) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?