(1927). Stage Play: Four Walls. Written by Dana Burnet and George Abbott. Directed by George Abbott. John Golden Theatre: 19 Sep 1927- Jan 1928 (closing date unknown/144 performances). Cast: Suzanne Browne (as "Lizzie"), William Cox (as "Marty"), Lionel Dante (as "Paul") [Broadway debut], Peter Du Conge (as "Second Musician"), Bella Finkle (as "Bertha"), Jacob Frank (as "Mendel"), Jeanne Greene (as "Frieda"), Averell Harris (as "The Monk"), Steven Jones (as "Fourth Musician"), Edward Keane (as "Sullivan"), Eloise Keeler (as "Sally"), James C. Lane (as "Tom"), Clara Langsner (as "Mrs. Horowitz"), Jay Lindsey (as "Looey"), Gertrude Manfred (as "Gertie"), Sanford Meisner (as "Sid"), George Nicols (as "Third Musician"), Olga Nova (as "Stella"), William Pawley (as "Lefty"), Edwin Philips (as "Sammy"), Evelyn Platt (as "Rose"), William Smith (as "First Musician"), Lee Strasberg (as "Nick"), Charles Wagenheim (as "Herman"), Josephine Wehn (as "Mrs. Clampman"), Paul Muni [credited as Muni Wisenfrend] (as "Benny Horowitz"), George Wright Jr. (as "Jake"). Produced by John Golden. Note: Filmed by MGM as Four Walls (1928) and again by MGM as Straight Is the Way (1934). See more »
A Hundred Years from Today
Music by Victor Young
Lyrics by Joe Young and Ned Washington
Played on a radio and sung by an unidentified man
Played also on a record and often as background music See more »
It was very rare to see Jewish characters in movies, and even television until maybe the 1980s. Willy Loman probably is meant to be. Fred and Ethel Mertz -- Need I identify the work in which any of these appear? -- probably were too. But Hollywood chickened out.
Not so here. May Robson is very concerned about having the Sabbath candles lighted. Her son, played by Franchot Tone, is just out of prison. They live in a walk-up apartment in a tenement (as do I.) Oddly, it seems that this building has only four floors. Tenements usually have five and sometimes six.
Tone is at his best in this sort of serious role. Also, as Bertha, the girl his mother ants him to marry, Karen Morley is most touching. Gladys George plays a sneering bad girl. To me, that's a waste: She could be so poignant she could break your heart. Here, as Shirley, she looks a little like Mae West and is not at all likable. (This is not to say the actress turns in a bad performance. She was incapable of that.) Nat Pendleton gives a subdued performance. That guy was never a star but he was always reliable.
I'd be curious to know what motivated MGM, of all studios, to turn out a movie with what then was such a daring setting. It pays off, in any case. The plot is routine but the honesty of the characters' ethnic makeup is refreshing.
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