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>
The original production opened at the Guild Theater (New York) on October 2, 1933 and played for 289 performances. The original cast included actor/song writer/playwright George M. Cohan. The play has been revived on Broadway four times since the original production. See more »
Belle's mole on her cheek/upper lip disappears halfway through her scene, then reappears later. See more »
MGM's four big movies of 1935 were "Mutiny on the Bounty," "A Tale of Two Cities," "David Copperfield," and this one. It's the quietest of the four but to me the most impressive, a distillation of Eugene O'Neill's memory play (not his childhood, he said, but his childhood as he wished it were) that's bathed in nostalgia that's more potent and poignant than ever. Screenwriters Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett get it past the Hays Office without really whitewashing its racier aspects (and Helen Flint's superb as the floozie who nearly corrupts our hero), and Eric Linden, who's entirely up to it, never again had this good a part. Top-billed Wallace Beery perhaps overdoes his drunken- charmer shtick, but Lionel Barrymore nicely underplays opposite him, and Aline MacMahon, always perfection, has one of her best roles--watch her reactions, how she plays love, disgust, and pity simultaneously. The rest of the family--Spring Byington, Mickey Rooney, Frank Albertson, Bonita Granville--are all exactly right. The MGM engineering--always-appropriate music, photography, costumes--helps rather than standardizes the material, the pacing's beautiful, and the warmth is unforced. You can weep at it and not feel like you're being manipulated.
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