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Four Sons (1928)

Passed  |   |  Drama, War  |  13 February 1928 (USA)
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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) , 3 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Margaret Mann ...
James Hall ...
Joseph - Her Son
Charles Morton ...
Johann - Her Son
Franz - Her Son (as Francis X. Bushman Jr.)
George Meeker ...
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
See  »

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 scene where the mother is feeding the little girls in front of the house it is raining, even though the sun is shining bright, an obvious use of the studios rain machine. See more »


Major von Stomm: You have a son in America. Give me his letters.
Mother Bernle: I haven't heard from him in many months - not since the war.
Major von Stomm: The better for you. He's a traitor fighting against the Fatherland!
See more »


Featured in John Ford (1993) See more »


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

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User Reviews

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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