14 user 6 critic

Four Sons (1928)

Passed | | Drama, War | 13 February 1928 (USA)
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.



(adapted by), (story) (as Miss I.A.R. Wylie)

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Complete credited cast:
Margaret Mann ...
Joseph - Her Son
Johann - Her Son
Franz - Her Son
Andreas - Her Son
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


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


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


Drama | War


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 February 1928 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cuatro hijos  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Movietone) (musical score and sound effects)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


When the cruel Major gets off the train with his monocle, there is a close-up of a reaction shot of another man with a monocle wearing a helmet, yet that man was not in the previous master shot, a real editing faux pas which disorients the observer. Mistakes like this show that often in the Twenties, the director had no input into the editing process, even a master auteur like John Ford. See more »


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 »


Von Stomm's Orderly: [Giving the Major a luger to commit suicide. It is apparent to the Major that a worse fate awaits him if he doesn't] A parting gift from the regiment, Herr colonel - to speed you to a better world. Shall we say - in ten minutes?
[He closes the door slowly, leaving the Major alone with a leering smile on his face]
See more »


Featured in Hollywood (1980) See more »


Little Mother
(1928) (uncredited)
Music by Erno Rapee
Lyrics by Lew Pollack
Sung by Harold Van Duzee and the Roxy Male Quartette
See more »

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User Reviews

Moderately effective soaper
4 October 1999 | by (Chicago) – See all my reviews

A huge, huge hit in 1928 and the winner of the Photoplay Medal of Honor (a fan-chosen award that was very big then), this soap opera actually offers little that you wouldn't have seen in an earlier and more powerful hit, The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. (Except the village sets-- you saw those in Sunrise.) It's a similar saga about a family whose members wind up on opposite sides of the big war (WWI); only after the war ends does the story take a new direction, when the mother comes to America to visit the son who moved there. These scenes, though somewhat manipulative (the mom gets lost at Ellis Island and winds up on a subway car in the city-- a neat trick if it didn't involve ever being on a boat), are the most moving parts of the movie.

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