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Keeper of the Flame (1942)

Not Rated | | Drama, Mystery | December 1942 (USA)
Journalist Steve O'Malley wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Steven O'Malley
...
Christine Forrest
Richard Whorf ...
Clive Kerndon
Margaret Wycherly ...
Mrs. Forrest
...
Geoffrey Midford
...
Dr. Fielding
...
Freddie Ridges (as Horace McNally)
Percy Kilbride ...
Orion Peabody
...
Jane Harding
...
Jeb Rickards
...
Mr. Arbuthnot
...
Jason Rickards (as Howard da Silva)
William Newell ...
Piggot
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Storyline

American military leader and war hero Robert Forrester, universally beloved and respected within the country and thus touted as Presidential material, has just died in a freak car accident on his sprawling estate, where, during an unexpected rainstorm, the car he was driving plunged over a ravine as he didn't notice the washed-out bridge. While the nation mourns, the national reporters descend on his small hometown to write the story of the incident. One reporter who won't is renowned Steven O'Malley, who wants instead to write an in-depth piece on the man to preserve his status within the public consciousness. Although happy to use official documents and records, O'Malley wants most specifically to speak to his wife, Christine Forrester, which may be a difficult task as she has refused to grant any interviews as a very private person. O'Malley is able to meet with Christine in person, and although she is reluctant to oblige his request at first, she is convinced by Robert's aide, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The screen's most exciting lovers in their newest romantic triumph! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

December 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die ganze Wahrheit  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film received its initial television broadcast in New York City Monday 1 April 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2); but it's first Los Angeles telecast did not take place until Thursday 12 September on KTTV (Channel 11); in San Francisco it was first telecast 6 March 1959 on KGO-TV (Channel 7). See more »

Goofs

The left side of the collar of Christine's coat, in the final scene, is alternately standing up and lying flat in various shots, without her touching it. See more »

Quotes

Doctor Fielding: Hero fever, I call it. Very modern. Ever since we've been getting out of touch with God, we've been pushovers for it. And the young get it the worst of all.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Marcia Funebre
(uncredited)
from "Symphony No.3 in E Flat Major "Eroica", Op.55" (1806)
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
played as background music during the funeral
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Revisited after all these years, it holds up pretty well.
26 December 1999 | by See all my reviews

I first saw "Keeper of the Flame" a few years after its original release (1942), probably around age 13, which would make it 1946. At the time of its release, it received mixed reviews at best. I, personally, was quite moved by it. Now, 53 years later, I've seen it again. Although the film is a bit dated and its central theme was better hyped at the time of its release, I believe it holds up fairly well. The film concerns itself with blind hero worship, as a mesmerized nation mourns the sudden accidental death of a national icon. A much respected reporter (Spencer Tracy), just back from Europe where he's witnessed the early horrors of World War II prior to U.S. entry into the conflict, has arrived just after the great man's tragic auto accident. He decides to write the hero's biography, so to immortalize his memory. While he manages to distance himself from the jostling pool of reporters, his biggest challenge is in seeing the great man's reclusive widow (Katharine Hepburn). In short, once the contact is made and the research process undertaken, we see the deceased as through a prism of characters: the eerily effective secretary (Richard Whorf); the down-home philosopher-cab driver (Percy Kilbride); the laconic and somewhat cynical doctor (Frank Craven, who observes of the mass hysteria: "Some of us held out;" a pouting cousin (Forrest Tucker), and an embittered caretaker (Howard Da Silva) who had been the hero's captain in World War I. Now, restricted physically by wounds he suffered, he has served the man he once commanded. He seems resentful of the man who saved his life in combat. The effect of unbridled hero worship on an impressioable young mind is captured in the caretaker's son (Darryl Hickman), convinced he is responsible for the death of his idol. His role becomes tedious, but is critical to the underlying psychology of the film.

Like the peeling of an onion, the film reveals layer after layer of the people in the life of a giant, his relations with them, and the passions stirred by his presence ... and his causes. We see that it is wise to temper emotion with information in selecting our icons. While Tracy and Hepburn are quite good in their roles, it is the supporting cast which drives the film. Whorf, Da Silva and Craven are outstanding in key roles. The Bronislau Kaper score and excellent black and white cinematography preserve the quality of the drama and help it through its dated moments.


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