Talented small-town girl Lily Mars hounds producer John Thornway for a part in his new play, but he doesn't want anything to do with stage-struck amateurs. But when Lily follows him to New ... See full summary »
Rich kid Danny Churchill (Rooney) has a taste for wine, women and song, but not for higher education. So his father ships him to an all-male college out West where there's not supposed to ... See full summary »
Former seaman Clinton Jones now works at a lowly job. His daughter Ruth wants to become an actress. Clinton gets fired and Ruth rejects the advances of Fred Whitmarsh. Her father gives her ... See full summary »
J.B. Ball, a rich financier, gets fed up with his free-spending family. He takes his wife's just-bought (very expensive) sable coat and throws it out the window, it lands on poor ... See full summary »
Fourteen-year-old Tessa is hopelessly in love with handsome composer Lewis Dodd, a family friend. Lewis adores Tessa, but has never shown any romantic feelings toward her. When Tessa's ... See full summary »
Discovery by Flo Ziegfeld changes a girl's life but not necessarily for the better, as three beautiful women find out when they join the spectacle on Broadway: Susan, the singer who must ... See full summary »
Judge Cass Timberlane marries a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Virginia Marshland. A baby is stillborn and she turns more and more to attorney friend of of Cass' Brad Criley. While... See full summary »
While out riding in the country, wealthy New Yorker Alec Walker meets young widow Julie Eden, and a relationship quickly develops. However, Alec has not told her that he is already locked ... See full summary »
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>
This film was the first to have media ads taken out campaigning for an Academy Award. The ads depicted MGMs Leo the Lion holding an Oscar, reading "You've given so much, Leo - now get ready to receive!" Despite the ads (or perhaps because of them) the film received no Academy Award nominations. See more »
Belle's mole on her cheek/upper lip disappears halfway through her scene, then reappears later. See more »
[as Richard comes home as in a trance and goes upstairs without saying anything]
You don't suppose he's been...
No, that's love, not liquor.
See more »
Beautifully directed by Clarence Brown, the nearly perfect cast of this rare (but not quite *only*) O'Neill comedy shines from top to bottom even as one speculates the film this might have been had a Methodist minister not effectively murdered one of America's greatest entertainers over the minister's shallow objection to the depiction of a "fallen woman." He wrote to Will Rogers, who was touring in the George M. Cohan/Lionel Barrymore role of the father and slated to do this movie version, stating that he had had to leave the theatre with his daughter rather than expose her to such smut! Rogers prided himself on never doing "blue" material, and withdrew from the film in favor of that fatal trip to Alaska with Wiley Post; one suspects the unfortunate minister saw rather more than he liked of himself in Muriel's father, McComber, in the play, and that was the true source of his offense.
Starting with this film, many productions of AH, WILDERNESS! and the works based on it, like the Broadway musical TAKE ME ALONG, have top-billed the showier role of "Sid" (Wallace Beery) over the core role of the stabilizing force, the father (Lionel Barrymore), whose relationship with his son (Eric Linden) the play turns around. One wonders if it would have been that way had Rogers ignored blue nose objections and made the film, but it is hard to imagine a better performance than Barrymore gives in the role.
While recognizing the vast difference between the usual depth of O'Neill dramas and this warm remembrance of an idealized youth O'Neill might have imagined wanting in middle class Connecticut at the start of the 20th Century, students of the playwright must view this play (and film) next to his more obviously autobiographical masterpieces A LONG DAY'S JOURNEY... , MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN and the sea plays (filmed collectively as THE LONG VOYAGE HOME) for a complete understanding of the author.
The greatest regret in the film is the fresh, forceful performance from Eric Linden as Richard - the boy on the verge of manhood, struggling with the same essential sexual/social issues every young man struggles with, even if they may seem "quaint" and even shallow in this period telling (we only imagine it's somehow different because of the period specifics). It's a fine performance and one wonders what happened to the actor. He lived on to age 85, only passing in 1994, but never made the transition to "adult" leads and after the minor role of an Amputee in the 1939 blockbuster, GONE WITH THE WIND, only made one more minor film during WWII, and called it a career.
Nevertheless, glory in superb work from a balanced cast that showcases Spring Byington as the Mother, the wonderful character actress Aline MacMahon as Sid's love interest, Lily (seek her out as the Nurse in the superb "Play of the Week" filming of Judith Anderson in MEDEA in 1959 or as Ida in Judy Garland's final film, I COULD GO ON SINGING from 1963!) and Mickey Rooney as the almost too energetic younger brother Tommy.
Yes, Wallace Beery breaks Lily's heart (and ours) with his drunk scene played for laughs, but O'Neill knows whereof he's writing, and gives us a depth and subtext to these scenes which most comedies of the period or later "comedy drunk scenes" couldn't imagine, and lets us understand the deeper meaning even while we permit ourselves to smile at Beery & O'Neill's craft.
A last point to be made in appreciating this terrific production: made in "glorious black & white" (as the VHS release calls it), the studio set designers and director Brown took full advantage of the more detailed visual vocabulary monochrome offered and give us so detailed a portrait of the world the play is set in you could teach a master class on the style and technology of the period just from the beautifully observed physical portrait in this film.
Allow yourself a ninety eight minute excursion back to the turn of the last century - this is a trip to what was not quite the cultural wilderness some of us might suppose that you'll never regret taking.
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