6.7/10
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18 user 3 critic

Life Begins (1932)

Approved | | Drama | 10 September 1932 (USA)
At a maternity hospital, future fathers pace the corridors while their wives wait for their babies either anxiously or happily. Efficient and compassionate nurse Miss Bowers keeps the ward ... See full summary »

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(play) (as Mary McDougal Axelson), (screen adaptation)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Miss Bowers
...
Florette Darien
...
Mrs. West
...
Dr. Brett
...
Ringer Banks
Walter Walker ...
Dr. Tubby
Hale Hamilton ...
Dr. Cramm
Vivienne Osborne ...
Mrs. McGilvary
Dorothy Peterson ...
A Patient
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Storyline

At a maternity hospital, future fathers pace the corridors while their wives wait for their babies either anxiously or happily. Efficient and compassionate nurse Miss Bowers keeps the ward running smoothly. Things liven up when Grace Sutton is transferred from the prison where she is being held for murder. Most agree that the man she killed deserved to die, and Nurse Bowers sympathetically allows Grace's concerned husband Jed unlimited time with his wife. On the ward, the women have varied feelings about motherhood. Mrs. West, mother of six children, thinks babies are what give meaning to women's lives. In contrast, Florette, a showgirl, just wants to get rid of her twins as soon as possible. Miss Layton has decided opinions about child rearing and has no intention of being a doting mother. While the women debate their various theories, a woman who wants a baby so much that she has become demented wanders in from another ward. An Italian woman quietly sobs when she learns that her ... Written by Daniel Williams

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

baby | nurse | twin | doctor | mother love | See All (44) »

Taglines:

Ten Million Women Lived and Loved to Make This Pictures (Print ad) See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

10 September 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Give Me a Child  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bernhard Kaun composed special music for the trailer. See more »

Connections

Version of A Child Is Born (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Pretty Baby
(1916) (uncredited)
Music by Tony Jackson and Egbert Van Alstyne
Played during the opening credits
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User Reviews

 
Wonderful performances make this precode stand out
5 March 2006 | by (Florida) – See all my reviews

Life Begins - and ends - in a typical 1930's maternity / recovery ward, where we view 48 hours in the lives of several high risk pregnant women, played by Loretta Young, Glenda Farrell, Clara Blandick (Aunty Em???), Vivienne Osborne, Dorothy Tree, and Gloria Shea, as they await to give birth. While the film features plot devices which seem far fetched today when maternity wards are much more controlled and restricted, it does offer us a look back in time to see what giving birth in a typical city hospital in 1932 was like for our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. I found the film fascinating and exceptionally moving.

Oddly enough, the most outstanding performance in this film comes from a male cast member, young Eric Linden as Jed Sutton, Grace's (Loretta Young) husband. What an actor! As a first time father, Jed is distraught and uneasy with hospital staff who seem to brush off his concerns about his wife as they might brush crumbs off a cafeteria table. I felt his every concern keenly. I'd like to see more of this actor's work. He had a very emotional voice, which was used to unforgettable effect in Gone With The Wind. In that film Eric played the young soldier whose leg was amputated without anesthesia, who screamed "Don't cut! Don't cut!" as Scarlett fled the hospital in horror. Chilling! Another great performance is from Aline MacMahon, who plays Miss Bowers, the nurse. Her character is a salt of the earth type, the kind of nurse we all hope to get for our hospital stays, who breaks the hospital rules constantly in order to show a more humane side of the medical profession.

Loretta Young did another superb acting job here as well, a very authentic and deeply felt performance as Grace. My, she is great in these precodes, I've really grown to appreciate her more as an actress the last few months.

Glenda Farrell played her role of a shrill unwed mother a little over the top for my taste (didn't anyone know back in 1932 that swigging brandy from a hot water bottle might be hazardous to unborn babies' health?) but her character redeems herself in the end.

Also in the cast was an uncredited Gilbert Roland, silent movie star, as a grieving Italian husband. His screen time was brief, but notable.

Life Begins is a must-see precode, try to catch it sometime on TCM, but remember to bring a few hankies to cry into. 9 out of 10.


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