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
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 »
A masterpiece - exquisite direction and cinematography.
I was first made aware of this gem when a clip was shown on the BBC Hollywood series. I have finally tracked it down and am very impressed indeed. Ford's direction in this very moving film is of Wyler quality. The performances of Margaret Mann (Mother Bernle) and Albert Gran (The Postman) are unforgettable - full of feeling and quite natural.
The story is a moving one and I won't give away any of its surprises. I was most impressed by the cinematography. The camera movement is extensive and the composition is very appealing. Three scenes are standouts - the delivery of the first government letter to Mother Bernle; the haircutting of Andreas as Mother Bernle waits outside the window and the following farewell scene; and the tracking shot and following reunion between Joseph and Andreas. Very moving, full of feeling and artistic truth.
This is one that should be rediscovered and made available on DVD. A gem - a masterpiece deserving of more public exposure.
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