A Disturbing Story Seemingly Packaged As A Homespun Comedy
The father is a narcissist. He's cold, filled with stories of his own childhood, remote, and short-tempered. The mother is a good wife and a weak person. The son -- well, we're not sure. When the movie opens, he has returned for vacation from a military school to which he's been sent. He indeed is something of a brat.
But he is lonely, looking for his father's approval, which is not forthcoming. The family maid is the one who understands him best. (Best, that is, until a very improbably acted Scandinavian fish seller takes him under his wing.) The actor playing the boy bears an uncanny resemblance to Jane Wyman at about the same period. This is not especially attractive and the audience is not crazy about him. But we feel for him.
It's a message picture of a type that wasn't being made yet. It is an early draft of the more trenchant "On the Loose," though the unfeeling parent there have a teen-aged daughter rather than a son who apparently is meant to be about 12.
It left me feeling sad and downcast. Many of us had had fathers like this one.
The musical score is extremely annoying. It is perky and upbeat, even as the story grows more and more sad and the characters more and more at their wits' end.
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