Change comes slowly to a small New Hampshire town in the early 20th century. People grow up, get married, live, and die. Milk and the newspaper get delivered every morning, and nobody locks... See full summary »
Sara and Kurt Muller and their three children are returning to her mother's home in Washington DC after 18 years in Europe. A Romanian Count living there discovers Kurt's attache case full ... See full summary »
John has lead a solitary life for thirty years since the death of Moonyeen Clare. But now Owens, a close friend, insists that he care for his niece, Kathleen, orphaned when her parents were... See full summary »
The daughter of a struggling musician forms a symphony orchestra made up of his unemployed friends and through persistence, charm and a few misunderstandings, is able to get Leopold ... See full summary »
Mary Barrett is an aspiring Opera singer who is taken under the wings of a famous operatic maestro, Guilio Monterverdi. After spending endless working hours together and arguing, their ... See full summary »
[to his son, Hartzell]
A pastor's family are in a special category. We are uh... Well, It's as if we walked a sort of tightrope. Balancing with one foot on earth and one foot already in heaven.
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"One Foot in Heaven" is quite simply one of the most beautiful films that I have encountered. A mainstream film of this sort would NEVER even be considered today; it seems even a bit tame for 1940.
And yet, the world was vastly different then, and the gentle,loving tone of this film reflects a sort of "old-time" morality that seems hopelessly lost today.
This was a major Warner Brothers release and, with Hal Wallis as producer, one expects and gets a very high quality film which lovingly recreates scenes from the life of an ordinary Methodist minister during the first 40 years of the 20th century. No earth-shaking events here--just the day-to-day trials and tribulations, the simple joys and heartaches, the small-town politics and frustrations that reveal humanity in all of its imperfections.
I am amazed that Frederic March is sometimes regarded as a dull actor; he was the epitome of subtle, honest realism, and he carries the narrative of this film in an amazing way, tender, gracious, humorous, a bit stodgy--but always willing to "bend" when necessary, resourceful, loving, and above all, very human.
The movie is filled with an array of Hollywood's best character actors, and the extremely detailed sets, costumes, etc really serve as a "window" to another time and place in our American past.
Max Steiner's extremely pious score is almost a bit much at times, but it nonetheless adds a reverent strength to the proceedings.
And then, there is the final scene, one of the most moving and unique in any film that I know. Once again, the ultimate destination of the plot is nothing earth-shaking---but the concept and staging of the last scene is really remarkable. A simple, old-time street on a gorgeous spring day, the townspeople who have come to know and love their minister all stopping their work and joining the procession through the street as they follow the sounds of the carillon from the new church. Martha Scott, Frankie Thomas, Gene Lockhart, Beulah Bondi, Harry Davenport, Laura Hope Crews--many of whom have locked horns with Mr. March during the course of the film, now join together in the dappled sunlit street, finally arriving at the church where they all lift their voices together in the moving hymn "The Church's One Salvation"... as we see Mr. March himself seated at the carillon, struggling to continue playing it through the tears streaming down his face....
I think Turner Classics has a print of this film (I saw and taped it off of Chicago's PBS station some years ago). Try to see it; like the world it represents, this beautiful film may also disappear forever.
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