A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  2 August 1945 (Australia)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.2/10 from 5,231 users  
Reviews: 66 user | 23 critic

Encouraged by her idealistic if luckless father, a bright and imaginative young woman comes of age in a Brooklyn tenement during the early 1900s.



(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Czech circus owner-Clown and his entire troupe employ a daring stratagem in order to escape en masse from behind the iron curtain.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Fredric March, Terry Moore, Gloria Grahame
Boomerang! (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The true story of a prosecutor's fight to prove the innocence of a man accused of a notorious murder.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Dana Andrews, Jane Wyatt, Lee J. Cobb
Certificate: Passed Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

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 »

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Robert Walker
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with pneumonic plague.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes
Baby Doll (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A steamy tale of two Southern rivals and a sensuous nineteen-year-old virgin.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Karl Malden, Carroll Baker, Eli Wallach
Wild River (1960)
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A TVA bureaucrat comes to the river to do what none of his predecessors have been able to do - evict a stubborn octogenarian from her island before the rising waters engulf her.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Montgomery Clift, Lee Remick, Jo Van Fleet
Pinky (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A light-skinned African American woman falls in love with a white doctor, though he is unaware of her true race.

Directors: Elia Kazan, John Ford
Stars: Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore, Ethel Waters
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A young Anatolian Greek, entrusted with his family's fortune, loses it en route to Istanbul and dreams of going to the United States.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Stathis Giallelis, Frank Wolff, Elena Karam
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

An Arkansas hobo becomes an overnight media sensation. But as he becomes drunk with fame and power, will he ever be exposed as the fraud he has become?

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal, Anthony Franciosa
The Visitors (1972)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Bill, Martha and their little child Hal are spending a quiet winter Sunday in their cosy house when they get an unexpected visit from Mike Nickerson and Tony Rodriguez. Mike and Tony are ... See full summary »

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Patrick McVey, Patricia Joyce, James Woods
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A reporter pretends to be Jewish in order to cover a story on anti-Semitism, and personally discovers the true depths of bigotry and hatred.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Eddie is a very rich man who has everything he wants; money, family, success, but a car crash causes him to reevaluate the life he leads. Searching for the happiness he lost, he remembers ... See full summary »

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Faye Dunaway, Deborah Kerr


Complete credited cast:
James Dunn ...
Ted Donaldson ...
Ruth Nelson ...
Miss McDonough
John Alexander ...
Steve Edwards
B.S. Pully ...
Christmas Tree Vendor


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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild depiction of mature plot material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

2 August 1945 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Ein Baum w√§chst in Brooklyn  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Favorite film of Gene Kelly. See more »


[first lines]
Katie Nolan: This'll be the last of them now, Francie.
See more »


Spoofed in Daria: A Tree Grows in Lawndale (2000) See more »


I Want a Girl (Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad)
(1911) (uncredited)
Music by Harry von Tilzer
Lyrics by William Dillon
Performed by male chorus at the restaurant
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Growing Up in Brooklyn
26 December 2003 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (20th Century-Fox, 1945), directed by Elia Kazan, from the book by Betty Smith, is a nostalgic look back to the days when Hollywood used to produce moving family stories and true to life characters, at the same time recapturing the life and times of old New York, in this case, Brooklyn, as seen through the eyes of an adolescent Irish girl named Francie Nolan. While the screenplay doesn't reproduce the entire book from which it is based, it does capture the essence and mood, ranging from hardships and heartaches of a poor Brooklyn family and their struggles blending in with the good times during the early part of the Twentieth Century.

Opening with an eye-view of early Brooklyn with horses pulling the food carts through cobblestone streets, trolleys passing by ringing the bell, clothes hanging out to dry over the back alley of apartment buildings on the line connected from one fire escape to another, the first half hour gives an insight look into the livelihood of the Nolan family: Katie Nolan (Dorothy McGuire), an embittered wife and mother who must scrub floors in order to support her family; Johnny (James Dunn), her happy-go-lucky husband who just can't seem to find time to earn a living but does take the time to cater to his children, particularly his "prima dona" adolescent daughter, Francie (Peggy Ann Garner); Francie finds the world a fabulous place to grow up in, and like President Abraham Lincoln, wants to learn everything about anything by reading books; Neely (Ted Donaldson), the youngest, would just rather enjoy himself playing in the streets with the other kids than going to school. While Francie and Neely are total opposites, they are typical brother and sister, having their differences but showing their devotion for one another. Their dad, Johnny, a singing waiter by profession, is a caring soul with a weakness for drinking and gambling. His wife, who feels him a failure, would discover, at his funeral the abundance of people in attendance, that anyone with as many friends as he had was not a total failure at all. Since Johnny was taken for granted by both his wife and son, Francie is one who looked up to him as someone special. Another member of their family looked upon with great fondness by the children is their beloved and fun- loving Aunt Sissy (Joan Blondell), whose past reputation doesn't go well with sister, Katie.

At 128 minutes, there's bound to be slow spots, but with those slow spots comes some great highlights: The Nolan kids visits to the local meat market telling the butcher their order for what "Momma said"; Francie reading a book on the fire escape and observing everything going on around her; Johnny singing a traditional Irish song, "Annie Laurie"; The Nolan kids obtaining a Christmas tree from a street vendor (B.S. Pully) on Christmas Eve followed by the family togetherness on Christmas Day; Aunt Sissy taking Francie to a secluded place in the school building after the girl receives her graduation gift (flowers), arranged several months ago by her father, now deceased, so she can have herself a good cry; and Officer McShane (Lloyd Nolan - excellent) nervously proposing to Widow Katie Nolan so he can provide for her and her new born baby; and one on the rooftop with Francie and Neely overseeing the city of Brooklyn, looking back with fondness to the times they had together, putting those memories behind them.

With Peggy Ann Garner being the main focus here, she deservingly won a special Academy Award for her natural performance. James Dunn (1904-1967), a veteran actor of Fox Films best known for his roles opposite Shirley Temple in the mid 1930s, makes a temporary comeback in a major motion picture that earned him a much deserved Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor of 1945. Along with Garner, Dunn was not only a natural, but born to play his role, that of Johnny Nolan. Let's not overlook Joan Blondell, another screen veteran, giving one of her best performances of her career that should have been honored an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress. Along with Dunn, Blondell's chemistry with the children is not only natural, but highly memorable.

In smaller but not entirely unimportant roles are Lloyd Nolan (Officer McShane); James Gleason (Mr. McGarrity, the neighborhood barber); John Alexander (Steve Edwards, Sissy's latest husband); Ruth Nelson (Mrs. McDonough, Francie's teacher who inspires her to become a write); and J. Farrell MacDonald (Carney, the junk man). That distinctive voice of the Christmas tree vendor belongs to B.S. Pully. And who can forget boy actor Ted Donaldson's distinctive Brooklyn accent, adding the flavor to character.

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN might have been filmed at the back-lot of 20th Century- Fox, but it does have that Brooklyn flavor to it (particularly with the organ grinding score to "Rings on Her Fingers" and other popular tunes of the day. Author Betty Smith recaptures everything there is to the old New York and the characters she created, while Elia Kazan, making his directorial debut, successfully brings all this and the characters to life.

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (in reference to a tree in the back lot of the apartment) was distributed on video cassette in 1991. Other than becoming a late show favorite on commercial television from the 1960s to the 1980s, especially on Christmas Eve, it has later enjoyed frequent revivals on American Movie Classics cable channel for many years before turning up on the Fox Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies where it premiered February 8, 2009. In spite of a 1974 television movie remake, the 1945 original remains an unsurpassed movie gem. Why? Because, "Momma said." (****)

65 of 70 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Did anyone else hate McShane? spooky-mulder1013
Favorite scene? dwightandkris
Has anyone read the book? gabysaysbam
TCM Needs To Show This Movie! gosh717
A Great Movie? -- Is It or Ain't It? detailsautumnrain
DVD pobasted
Discuss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: