7.1/10
773
35 user 6 critic

One Foot in Heaven (1941)

Approved | | Biography, Drama | 1 November 1941 (USA)
Episodic look at the life of a minister and his family as they move from one parish to another.

Director:

Writers:

(screen play), (from the book by)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
William Spence
...
Hope Morris Spence
...
Mrs. Lydia Sandow
...
Preston Thurston
Elisabeth Fraser ...
Eileen Spence
...
Elias Samson
...
Mrs. Preston Thurston
...
Clayton Potter
...
Dr. John Romer
...
Hartzell Spence
...
Dr. Horrigan
...
John E. Morris
...
Mrs. Morris
Carlotta Jelm ...
Eileen Spence
Peter Caldwell ...
Hartzell Spence
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Storyline

Episodic look at the life of a minister and his family as they move from one parish to another.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Folks, meet a grand FATHER! He's the affable, laffable head of the most delightful family that ever stepped out of America's screens...into America's hearts!

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 November 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Con un pie en el cielo  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 20, 1942 with Fredric March and Martha Scott reprising their film roles. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the movie, William Spence (Fredric March) announces he has been "called" to the church and will become a pastor in the Methodist Church. His soon-to-be mother-in-law, Mrs. Norris (Nana Bryant)), replies that she would have preferred that he'd joined the Episcopal Church. At that time, in Canada, the dominant church was the Church of England, not the Episcopal Church. That is predominantly a US institution born out of the American Revolution. See more »

Quotes

William Spence: [upon his new found enlightenment about motion pictures] He who speaks to only one generation is already dead. And he who listens to only one generation is deaf.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Whistling in Dixie (1942) See more »

Soundtracks

Yankee Doodle
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played when the doughboys ship out
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Setting An Example
4 February 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

One Foot in Heaven is based on the memoirs of journalist Hartzell Spence's growing up as a Methodist preacher's kid in midwest USA from the Theodore Roosevelt era to the Roaring Twenties. It's what they mean when they talk about a family values film. The Camden Family of Seventh Heaven could well have been modeled on the Spence Family of generations past.

Young William Spence played by Fredric March has abandoned a career in medicine after being saved at a revival meeting and goes all the way and becomes a Methodist minister. Though taken aback by the career change, fiancé Martha Scott still marries him and the story follows them for the next 20 years or so, moving from one parish to another. Scott and March are such a good fit as the preacher and wife you would think that March was doing this with his own wife, Florence Eldridge.

March strikes just the right note as the minister, a just and pious man without being overbearing and sanctimonious. Would that preachers today were like him. He also demonstrates a capacity to learn. When his son goes to the silent cinema in defiance of Methodist preaching against the cinema, March takes him in hand to show him the error of his ways. They go to a William S. Hart western and March to his amazement finds he likes it and the western tale carries a good moral positive moral lesson. He changes his own view on the subject.

He also has to deal with a whole lot of modern day pharisees in dealing with the various politics of every parish he's assigned to. Chief among his tormentors are Beulah Bondi, the richest woman in town, who's actually offended by him treating her gardner Harry Davenport as an equal.

And there's Gene Lockhart who has something of the same role here as in Going My Way. But he's not as nice in this film. When he loses control of the church choir which Lockhart regarded as his private preserve, he and wife Laura Hope Crews mount a vicious smear campaign against March's son Frankie Thomas. His confrontation with Hope Crews and her gossip circle is a high point of the film.

Like Seventh Heaven there are some good humorous moments as well. I like March trolling for some marriage business down at the town clerk's office, looking for some wedding fees when times are a little lean. And the usual problems of dealing with parsonages which are not the most kept up buildings in the town.

The title of the film comes from March's explanation that he and his family have to set an example if in fact his profession puts them one foot in heaven already. It's good entertainment and Fredric March and Martha Scott do set the best example we'll ever see.


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