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Kings Row (1942)

 -  Drama | Mystery | Romance  -  18 April 1942 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,545 users  
Reviews: 61 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.

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(screen play), (from the novel by)
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Title: Kings Row (1942)

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Betty Field ...
Cassandra Tower
...
Dr. Henry Gordon
...
Dr. Alexander Tower
...
Mrs. Harriet Gordon
Nancy Coleman ...
Louise Gordon
Kaaren Verne ...
Elise Sandor
Maria Ouspenskaya ...
Madame von Eln
...
Colonel Skeffington
Ernest Cossart ...
Pa Monaghan
Ilka Grüning ...
Anna (as Ilka Gruning)
Pat Moriarity ...
Tod Monaghan
Minor Watson ...
Sam Winters
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Mystery | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

18 April 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Abismo de pasión  »

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

Erich Wolfgang Korngold's score was played during the inauguration of Ronald Reagan as President. See more »

Goofs

When Parris is speaking to his instructor in Vienna, Dr. Kendell strikes a match to light his pipe. In the next shot, the match has disappeared and there is no evidence that he lit the pipe. See more »

Quotes

Drake McHugh: Randy, Randy - Where's the rest of me...?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sands of Oblivion (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Fantasie Impromptu in C Sharp Minor, Op. 66
(1834) (uncredited)
Written by Frédéric Chopin
Partially played on piano by Robert Cummings
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Quite marvelous
2 December 2007 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

I've only recently seen this film in its entirety (after decades of watching the clip of Ronnie Reagan's best scene in it) and am totally surprised by how fine this film really is; in fact, when it ended, I found myself wanting to burst into applause. But to appreciate it you must put yourself into the time it was made, mid- to late 1941. This picture was meant to be an "A" picture (that is, the first picture to be shown on a double bill, or the only film being shown) showcasing the up and coming generation of Warners actors. None of the young players was particularly well-known, except in supporting roles. The older players were all familiar to film, theater and radio audiences. Radio, since radio drama was a major national venue then and all of these older players, in fact, most major stars, had starring roles in radio plays.

This picture would have been shown in its first run in the chain of theaters owned by Warners, mostly large ones, and shown in a large house, holding an audience of a thousand people or more, with a very large screen yards wide and high and a sound system that was louder and definitely more "high fidelity" than any member of the audience had at home or had heard anywhere else.

The book on which the film was based had been a scandalous best seller two years before and many if not most had read it (people read books then!) and in fact many in the audience were probably alive when this film takes place, in the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th. Everyone would have been familiar with the style of dialogue and acting, which seems stilted to us, since it originated on the stage, with no microphones; the costumes, customs and speech would have been in living memory for many watching it in its first run, if not theirs, then their parents'.

As for Korngold's superb score, this too was a familiar part of a theatrical experience at the time. Most stage plays had live incidental music accompanying them. All major Broadway plays did. Opera, operetta and vaudeville were all part of the audience's experience, all with live music as part of the experience, and no one would have found Korngold's score obtrusive, just part of the show and gorgeous to hear. In fact, Korngold's score for "Robin Hood" in 1938 was premiered live on network radio as a major event, before the picture opened!

As for black and white, these films were truly in "black and white" on the big screen. Blacks WERE black and whites were silvery white. We see then on video screens, and so far, even with the best of those, these films look to be in "gray and grayer", with not the high contrast they had in the theater. So we dismiss them as flat and lifeless; in the theater, black and white has quite a lot of depth and sparkle.

So in its proper context, this film is really quite astonishingly good. The production design is by the same man who designed the look of "Gone With the Wind", so there are the gorgeously composed shots, the depth of field, use of light and shadow and attention to detail in that film. Even the landscapes, matte paintings that so many of them are, most have looked quite beautiful projected large. The acting is all first rate. All the actors, in their late twenties and early thirties, are playing younger than their ages. Cummings has the right wide eyed innocence of an only child reared in relative isolation by his grandmother, Sheridan is beautiful and true, Reagan lively and cocky, and Field, the disturbed adolescent. Reagan is the real surprise here; totally unaffected, he acts effortlessly here on film, building a character, listening to the actors in the scene and reacting in the moment. And his best scenes, "THAT" one, and the final scene, are excellent.

And when it ends, with a flourish those audiences would have found entirely familiar and even comforting, I can imagine an audience of a thousand bursting into prolonged applause.


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