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Keeper of the Flame (1942)

Passed  -  Drama | Mystery  -  December 1942 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,201 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 12 critic

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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(novel), (screenplay)
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Title: Keeper of the Flame (1942)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Steven 'Stevie' O'Malley
...
Mrs. Christine Forrest
Richard Whorf ...
Clive Kerndon
Margaret Wycherly ...
Old Mrs. Forrest
...
Geoffrey 'Geoff' Midford
Frank Craven ...
Doctor Fielding
Stephen McNally ...
Freddie Ridges (as Horace McNally)
Percy Kilbride ...
Orion Peabody, Taxi Driver
Audrey Christie ...
Jane Harding
...
Jeb Rickards
...
Mr. Arbuthnot
Howard Da Silva ...
Jason Rickards (as Howard da Silva)
William Newell ...
Piggot, the Horse Handler
Edit

Storyline

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.

Add Full Plot | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

FIERY LOVE DRAMA! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

December 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Keeper of the Flame  »

Company Credits

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

Both Dick Elliott (Auctioneer) and Edward McWade (Lawyer) were in studio records for their roles, but did not appear in the film. Pauline Lord was originally cast as Mrs. Forrest, but afer a week of filming was replaced by Margaret Wycherly. See more »

Goofs

In the denouement scene in the arsenal, while standing near the safe, Christine begins wearing a rain coat which then becomes a fuzzy cloth coat. See more »

Connections

Featured in Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993) 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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