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Kings Row (1942)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Romance  |  18 April 1942 (USA)
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Reviews: 63 user | 21 critic

The dark side and hypocrisy of provincial American life is seen through the eyes of five children as they grow to adulthood at the turn-of-the-century.



(screen play), (from the novel by)
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. See more awards »



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Five children in an apparently ideal American small town find their lives changing as the years pass near the turn of the century in 1900. Parris and Drake, both of whom have lost their parents, are best friends; Parris dreams of becoming a doctor, studying under the father of his sweetheart Cassie, while Drake plans on becoming a local businessman when he receives his full inheritance - juggling girlfriends in the meantime. As they become adults, the revelations of local secrets threaten to ruin their hopes and dreams. Written by scgary66

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THE TOWN THEY TALK OF IN WHISPERS (re-release print ad - all caps) See more »


Drama | Mystery | Romance


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Release Date:

18 April 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Abismo de pasión  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Among the actresses considered for the part of 'Cassandra', were Katharine Hepburn, Adele Longmire, Marsha Hunt, Laraine Day, Susan Peters, Joan Leslie, Gene Tierney and Priscilla Lane. See more »


When Randy sends Parris a letter in Europe, the return address reads "Kings Row, USA" with no street address or state mentioned. See more »


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User Reviews

Turn of the Century Soap Opera at its best!
3 May 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of the best remembered films of the 40's, "King's Row" has gotten more attention because of Ronald Reagen's "Where's the rest of me?" line than anything else in the film. Sixty years later, "King's Row" as a film holds an important place in American history for more reasons than just a famous line barked by a future American president.

The central character is Paris Mitchell (Robert Cummings), the epitome of goodness and virtue. Raised by his loving grandma (Maria Ouspenskaya) in a wealthy home, Paris has been taught to love beyond his social standing, and ends up giving back to society what his grandmother gave to him. The secondary lead is Drake McHugh (Reagen), a spunky young man who is Paris's best friend. Paris is sometimes too good to be believed; McHugh is a full-bodied character, supporting in status, who steals interest away from the lead.

Paris and Drake are surrounded by characters of all classes, good and bad, who have major impacts on their lives. Dr. Towers (Claude Rains) is a mysterious doctor (without any patients) who lives as a recluse thanks to the insanity of his wife. Towers' daughter, Cassie (Betty Field), loves Paris, but Towers does all he can to keep them apart while training Paris to become a doctor. Then, there is surgeon Dr. Gordon (Charles Coburn), seemingly good on the surface, but filled with a dark streak on the inside that would ultimately destroy Drake. His wife (Judith Anderson) supports him, but daughter Louise (Nancy Coleman) is desperately in love with Drake, and would do anything to be with him, even defying her parents.

A childhood chum, Randi Monahan (Ann Sheridan) is the spunky girl from the other side of the tracks who grows up to be a beautiful and kind woman. Drake's bankruptcy brings him and Randi together, while Paris goes off to Europe to study psychiatry after a tragic incident at Dr. Towers' house. During Paris' absence, Drake has an accident which Dr. Gordon is brought to. That night changes everyone's life forever.

Robert Cummings is not a poor actor, but certainly not one of the best out of Hollywood. Handsome Cummings tried to change his image with this film, but was totally outshined by Reagen who proved that with the right preparations, he could be an excellent actor. I am not a Ronald Reagen fan-politically or as an actor, but he is massively impressive here. His other film credits were filled with forgettable performances, but this one I must honesty say he was worthy of an Oscar nomination which he did not receive. Also worthy of a nomination was Ann Sheridan, even though she does not make her appearance until Paris leaves for Europe. Her strength and devotion to Drake give Sheridan the chance to stretch all of her acting muscles, and Sheridan does it impressively. Sheridan, unlike her male co-stars, did have a respectable list of acting credits, and it is a pity that she was never acknowledged during her lifetime for her talents.

As two different style of doctors, Rains and Coburn give two different styles of performances. Rains is quietly sensitive and filled with pain as to the torture he feels concerning his wife and daughter; Coburn, on the other hand, has everything; a wife who loves him, and a seemingly strong daughter. However, once his dark side comes through, Coburn becomes absolutely hissable. Unlike Rains, whom we sympathize with, Coburn never once wins us over. Such a lovable actor in other films, he really had a different type of part here, and chews it up like a dog on a fresh steak bone!

Ouspenskaya always gives me chuckles in the wrong places. The scene where young Paris speaks French to her through the open windows of their home is laughabily over the top. Later, when Ouspenskaya is dying, she expresses such a over-the-top nobility that on several occasions, I found myself saying, "Would you just die already?" Wide-eyed Betty Field makes the most of a small part as Cassie Towers; Nancy Coleman's Louise Gordon goes from sane to psycho in such a short span that I can't help but wish there had been more to fill in what drove her there. Screen villainess Judith Anderson sadly is underused in her few scenes as Mrs. Gordon. I longed for her to have one truly evil scene, yet felt sympathy for her when she confided her fears of Louise's insanity to Paris Mitchell. Small appearances by Harry Davenport and Kaaren Verne are charming, yet undeveloped.

In spite of these faults, I find "King's Row" remains a favorite of mine, thanks to its delightfully charming yet gaudy small town atmosphere (reminding me of the small town in Chautaqua County New York I grew up in), the marvelous musical score, and the simply breathtaking photography. Strongest of all is Sam Wood's direction which makes the film flow smoothly from one sequence to the next. "King's Row" would have made an excellent daily soap opera, and in fact did appear briefly in the 50's as a prime time series.

29 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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