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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Brother against Brother - familiar plot

6/10
Author: gelashe from New York City
6 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Made in 1940 before we entered World War II, it is always interesting to see how Hollywood tried to warn the U.S. about the dangers Europe was facing and the horrors yet to come. The beginning starts with a love twist. Anna is dating Chris, doesn't love him, realizes she loves brother Karl, a fight between brothers takes place with Karl and Anna marrying and the story begins. The night of their wedding, Karl is summoned to attend to a matter of political urgency. He leaves but Chris overhears what was said and takes off to warn the targets of the upcoming Nazi reprisals. He gets to town too late and finds the damage already done . The Burgermeister is dead and other enemies of the state have been taken away or have met similar fates. Chris is spotted and tries to run for cover. He is shot and fires back. Unbeknowst to him, he shoots his brother. Stumbling back to the house, mama and youngest brother Fritz hide him in the barn. Karl is brought home alive on a stretcher to await the doctor. In the meantime, Anna, the devout wife threatens to turn Chris in to the Nazi's. On the same night, The Fuhrer is to pass through their town bestowing them with the highest honor. Karl's men search every room in the house for a sniper and are told by Mama that Carl has died. Mama begs Anna not to give Chris up, but her anger overtakes her and at the last minute she does. Chris is shot and killed just as Hitler's entourage is coming through. Son Joseph was sent off to America early on and has been trying to bring Mama and youngest son Fritz to join him. Just as the papers come through, the Nazi's are already preparing all the young boys to prepare to fight. We see 10 year ODs with mock rifles and gas masks goose stepping outside her house. She is given another Iron Cross, (the first was her husband's) as Fritz died bravely in the line of duty earlier. This prompts her to go to Anna and beg her to put their differences aside and join her in the U.S. for the sake of her toddler grandchild. Anna agrees and they board the train to take them to the ship overseas. A most touching scene is when Mama is in the house alone and is about to eat, says a prayer over the food and is visited by the spirits of all four sons sitting with her at the table. She begs them not to go as they start to fade out. The pastor knocks on the door to tell her that her authorization papers have come through. At that point, she thinks Fritz (an adorable son - so sweet and loving) is still alive having just left to fight. She says that she cannot go because what will Fritz do when he comes home. The pastor tells her that Chris will not come home as he is already dead. The night that Fritz left on the train, she went out in the pouring to give him a basket of food to take with him holding his hand while the train is pulling out.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The impending storm

Author: dbdumonteil
29 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A remake of a silent movie,"four sons" was overshadowed by Frank Borzage's extraordinary "the mortal storm" which was released the very same year.Both were propaganda movies,but while Borzage's work transcended that ,Archie Mayo's remained only a decent melodrama.Eugenie Leontovich is excellent as the mother courage who knows where military madness can lead a man ,having lost her dear husband and knowing that when the war is over,the only thing left will be tears.Her character reminds one of Madame Oupenskaia in "mortal storm" ;in both works ,brothers going different ways in a world gone mad.

The best scenes,in my opinion,are to be found in the second half: -the old mom,holding her son's body ,as the German soldiers march in her homeland -the old woman,sitting alone at her table and thinking of the good old time ,when the family was around the table;then the ghosts of her sons,a scene reminiscent of the last scene of Borzage's "three comrades" Like this ?try these....

"The mortal storm" Frank Borzage 1940

"The four horsemen of the Apocalypse" Vincente Minnelli 1961

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The shocking truth of Czechoslovakian oppression by the Nazi's.

7/10
Author: mark.waltz from United States
2 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Long before the United States got into the war already going on in Europe, the Hollywood propaganda machine began to take a dramatic look at the horrors going on overseas. Here, the setting is the German/Czechoslovakian border with four young men finding different paths in their destiny as their widowed mother (legendary stage actress Eugenie Leontovich) struggles to face the path that her family's life has taken. One son goes off to America, two become rivals over the same girl, and one of them refuses to accept the fact that his Czechoslovakian blood outweighs the German blood from their ancestorage as he sides with the Nazi's.

While Don Ameche gets top billing as the oldest of the sons, it is Miss Leontovich who steals the film as the strong but loving matriarch who is determined to keep her sons together at all means, even standing up for the Nazi (Alan Curtis) making plans with other sympathizers in the back of their home. She even stands face to face with the barrel of two guns between brothers, demanding that one of them kill her so she won't have to witness brothers becoming enemies. Pretty dramatic stuff and a performance that remains strongly believable today.

Beautifully filmed and directed by Archie Mayo, this is a sound remake of a 1928 film set in World War I, and the changing of the times is more than appropriate for its story. There's the usual amount of Eastern European schmaltz, including a festival scene with its entire cast in Liederhosen and other traditional garb. The problem with this film, having been rarely seen until fairly recently, is the fact that it was overshadowed by the very similar "The Mortal Storm" which also had a strong parental figure (in that film's case, patriarch Frank Morgan) fighting to keep their family together in spite of divided loyalties. As the war threatened to engulf the world, however, Hollywood saw a need to get the message of impending danger out there, and even if so many films of this time seem alike, they all have the patriotic theme of getting America ready "just in case", which in this case, they already knew was inevitable.

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