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Mary Jane's Pa (1935)

 -  Drama  -  27 April 1935 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 35 users  
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Sam Preston is a small-town newspaper publisher who suffers from wanderlust. Leaving his family (wife Ellen, two daughters and a son,) he thinks well-provided for, he packs a suitcase and ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: Mary Jane's Pa (1935)

Mary Jane's Pa (1935) on IMDb 6.5/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Aline MacMahon ...
Ellen Preston
Guy Kibbee ...
Sam Preston
Tom Brown ...
King Wagner
Robert McWade ...
John Wagner
Minor Watson ...
Kenneth Marvin
Nan Grey ...
John Arledge ...
Linc Overman (as Johnny Arledge)
Robert Light ...
Fred
Betty Jean Hainey ...
Oscar Apfel ...
Chief Bailey
DeWitt Jennings ...
Sheriff
Carl Stockdale ...
Gene
Louis Mason ...
Jones
Jack Kennedy ...
Watchman
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Storyline

Sam Preston is a small-town newspaper publisher who suffers from wanderlust. Leaving his family (wife Ellen, two daughters and a son,) he thinks well-provided for, he packs a suitcase and hits the road. Ten years later he comes back to find the newspaper shuttered and his family gone. He wanders from town to town searching for them and, finally, comes upon a little lost girl named Mary James, takes her to her home, and discovers she is his youngest daughter. Ellen is now running another newspaper, and is interested in politics...and another man. But after he pleads to remain with his children, she allows him to stay incognito as a housekeeper. Then, the town gossips go to work. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They Set a New High in Howls! (original poster)

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

27 April 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mary Jane's Pa  »

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

Edith Ellis Furness's play opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 3 December 1908 and closed on 27 February 1909 after 120 performances. See more »

Connections

Remake of Mary Jane's Pa (1917) See more »

Soundtracks

Shuffle Off to Buffalo
(1932) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Sung a cappella by Betty Jean Hainey at the carnival
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User Reviews

A Very Honorable Guy
16 July 2012 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

MARY JANE'S PA (Warner Brothers, 1935), directed by William Keighley, is not a hillbilly comedy nor is Mary Jane the center of attention. The Pa in the title happens to be the main character of the story. Starring Aline MacMahon and Guy Kibbee in another one of their family oriented programmers, MARY JANE'S PA, following the basic pattern of their previous screen efforts of BABBITT, BIG HEARTED HERBERT and THE MERRY FRINKS (all 1934), is actually a better than the title indicates.

The 73 minute comedy-drama introduces Sam Preston (Guy Kibbee), a printer working from his Colorado home where he and wife, Ellen (Aline MacMahon) have established a weekly newspaper, The Silvertown Courier. One night while Ellen and two young daughters are asleep, the restless Sam, after hearing the train whistle from a distance, makes a hasty decision by deserting his family and taking the next train out of town. Awaken by the closing of the door, Ellen finds her husband gone, a farewell note and financial security from the Key State Utility Stock left to her, which turns out to be worthless. During the course of eleven years, Sam, having traveled the world to Calcutta, Paris, London, Melbourne and China, keeping himself financially secured with newspaper work, decides to return home. Upon his arrival, he finds his home has been converted to a local beer parlor and told by its bartender that Ellen had gone broke, sold the newspaper business and moved away with the children without a trace. Unable to locate his family, Sam becomes a side show barker. After the carnival makes a stop in town, Sam encounters a little girl (Betty Jane Hainey), having been separated from her older sister and boyfriend, roaming about alone, watching the shows. After conversing with the talkative child, Sam takes her home riding on an elephant. Coming inside the house, Sam discovers her to be his own daughter, Mary Jane. Told her father is "dead," Sam keeps his identity a secret, going under the name of Joshua Barker. Seeing Ellen has found a new life for herself as editor for the Hempstead Daily News, with the raccoon coat wearing Linc Overman (John Arledge ) as her star reporter, Sam also finds his eldest daughter, Lucille (Nan Grey), has grown to an attractive young lady in love with King Wagner (Tom Brown), son of a local banker (Robert McWade). Though Ellen is bitter towards her wanderlust husband, she does offer him employment as her live-in cook and handyman, much to the surprise of town gossips and dismay of Kenneth Marvin (Minor Watson), a leading candidate for legislature who intends on having Sam leave town in order for he to marry Ellen for reasons of his own.

A familiar plot reminiscent to stories commonly found in melodramas used during the silent era, MARY JANE'S PA, which originated as both book and play, did emerge as a silent motion picture in 1917 from Vitagraph Studios with Marc MacDermott in the Kibbee role. Though the plot was possibly considered old-fashioned material by 1935 standards, the worthwhile script by Peter Milne and Tom Reed, along with the fine chemistry between MacMahon and Kibbee make this an agreeable affair. MacMahon, good as always, gives a remarkable performance all around, especially one where she goes to watch over her young children asleep in their beds after finding her husband deserted her, with sad eyes of emotion silently thinking to herself, "What am I to do?" Kibbee's character may not warrant any sympathy for his decision, but enough pleasing results for why things turn out the way they do.

Aside from "Mary Jane" being the name of Sam's printing machine, Mary Jane, the youngest daughter, is awarded to newcomer, Betty Jane Hainey. Sporting dark curly hair, having a mature face for a little girl, comes across as a pint-size Mary Astor. Though likable, she's become one of those real obscure child performers who naturally failed to achieve any legendary status of Shirley Temple or to a lesser known degree, Jane Withers. Hainey may have enough camera close-ups to warrant some attention, but nothing worthy to generate future leading roles tho revolve around her. Even working with season veterans as Kibbee and MacMahon (in their final pairing for Warners), it would be hard even for a child actress like Hainey to steal any scenes from them. The same can be said for Nan Grey (spelled Gray in credits) and Tom Brown as the young lovers who make their presence known but scarcely noticeable.

MARY JANE'S PA may not win any merits as a sort-after film classic, but worthy entertainment properly viewed for Father's Day or whenever broadcast on Turner Classic Movies cable channel. As much as Mary Jane is not the central figure here, the attention no doubt is drawn mostly to both Ma and Mary Jane's Pa. (***)


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