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Robert B. Sinclair
Young idealist Richard Miller is selected as valedictorian for his New England high school commencement class of 1906 and intends to inject modern anti-capitalistic ideas into his speech. His father, Nat Miller, accidentally learns of it and interrupts Richard's speech before he can make a fool of himself. The small town later celebrates the Fourth of July with customary fireworks, picnics and the like, with Richard spending time with his girl, Muriel McComber, who promises she will allow him to kiss her one day. When Richard sends poems of love to Muriel, quoting the likes of Omar Khayyám and Swinburne, her father prevents her from ever seeing him again and forces her to write a letter denouncing him. Heartbroken, Richard drowns his sorrow in a local bar, drinking and smoking with a vamp called Belle, and comes home drunk. Alcoholic uncle Sid, who is used to the effects of liquor, nurses Richard back to sobriety, but Richard still must face the uncertain punishment of his father as ... Written by
Arthur Hausner <email@example.com>
Junior Durkin was originally cast in the role of Richard, but shortly before shooting was to begin, he was tragically killed in a car crash. Elisha Cook Jr. was approached to reprise his role from the original Broadway production before Eric Linden was eventually cast. See more »
The "Stanley Steamer" automobile is depicted as chugging and back-firing, which are not possible with steam engines. These are characteristics of internal combustion engines. See more »
Well, look here, Richard. It's about time you and I had a serious talk about certain matters pertaining to, er, the opposite sex. The subject has come up of its own accord and it's a good time to... I mean there's no use to procrastinating any further. Here goes. Richard, you've now arrived at the age... well, you're a man, in a way. It's only natural that you should, er... I mean there's a certain class of woman in this world. There always has been and always will be as long as human nature is...
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Released in 1935, when the era before WWI held a nostalgic place in the hearts of viewers, "Ah, Wilderness!" relives a spring and summer in the lives of a small town American family, especially one son who is the high school's valedictorian.
Adapted from the play by Eugene O'Neill, the film is filled with vignettes that recall life in 1906. The bandstand on the town square, the new-fangled Stanley Steamer, playing the piano in the parlor. Although some characters are more like caricatures, there is a sweetness to the film that culminates in the final, poignant scene.
Mickey Rooney plays the younger, rambunctious brother. In 1948, he will appear in the musical version of the story, "Summer Holiday", as the graduating student, Richard.
The cast is excellent, with Wallace Beery playing Uncle Sid, a lovable souse without the willpower to live up to the moral standards of the times. You can't have a film about turn of the century America without including healthy helpings of moralizing. Things were changing quickly in newly industrialized America and society seemed very concerned about pinning down community standards for decency and probity.
Eric Linden does a fine job as Richard, full of potential and full of youthful earnest, so sure that only he--having read certain books--sees truth.
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