This western begins with St. Louis resident Lutie Cameron (Katharine Hepburn) marrying New Mexico cattleman Col. James B. 'Jim' Brewton (Spencer Tracy) after a short courtship. When she ... See full summary »
In Brooklyn circa 1900, the Nolans manage to enjoy life on pennies despite great poverty and Papa's alcoholism. We come to know these people well through big and little troubles: Aunt Sissy's scandalous succession of "husbands"; the removal of the one tree visible from their tenement; and young Francie's desire to transfer to a better school...if irresponsible Papa can get his act together. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the June 1945 issue of Screenland Magazine costume designer Bonnie Cashin, in her column "Notes from a Designer's Diary" comments "If the average American girl could be the heroine of her own life story, and dress accordingly! This thought struck me more forcibly than it ever had before while I was fitting Dorothy McGuire for the part of Katie in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." Most of the girls want to look a little glamorous on screen (and off) whether the story calls for rags or riches. Not Dorothy. A stickler for characterization, she stood for hours in her old rags and ravels, suggesting a patch here, a droop there, deliberately deglamorizing herself in order to make sure that not a single bright thread should give the lie to Katie's threadbare life. Dorothy was playing a heroine of poverty and she dressed accordingly. So should we all, in the parts we play, in make believe, or in life. Joan Blondell didn't complain, either, when as Aunt Sissy, she had to wear the sort of ugly-period-of-1914 clothes, the high-topped shoes, the blousy blouses, the too-tight corset. "Oh, Bonnie," little Peggy Ann Garner said to me when we were making Francie's clothes, "oh, Bonnie, every picture they put me in I have to wear poor girls' clothes. Can't I have one good dress?" So we gave her the white graduation dress and the red roses and Peggy Ann accepted poverty and trouped through the picture, patiently ironing her one faded cotton (and she did iron it) and well content. See more »
Go Forth Into the World and Make Thy Dreams Come True.
A youngster (Peggy Ann Garner) in circa 1900 Brooklyn dreams of a suitable education and ultimately a better life. She and her young brother (Ted Donaldson) experience highs and lows as their lives are followed in a documentary-style format that creates a realistic and compassionate view. Poverty is tough in the area though as mother Dorothy McGuire (in arguably her greatest role) and father James Dunn (in one of the finest performances ever captured on film, he deservedly won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1945) have a hard time making ends meet. McGuire has a difficult time seeing the bright things in their lives, while Dunn (a hopeless alcoholic) treats everyone, including strangers on the street, with love, respect and understanding. Dunn sees greatness in Garner, even when most do not, and does his best to see that her hopes do come true. The title is symbolistic as a large tree in front of the family's low-rent apartment is about to be cut down to their dismay. It also refers to the fact that Garner is growing up and showing maturity way beyond her years; she is literally branching out and letting her leaves flourish. First-time director Elia Kazan arguably does the best work of any film-maker who had never completed a feature previously as he just lets Betty Smith's wonderful novel unfold methodically with a deliberate pace, tone and style. The screenplay yielded Oscar nominations for adapters Frank Davis and Tess Sleringer. Dunn, an actor who had a very pedestrian career, showed just how much of a hidden talent he really was. He is the straw that mixes the entire movie into an American classic. Arguably one of the top 10 films of the 1940s and one of the best features of all time. 5 stars out of 5.
37 of 40 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?