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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 <email@example.com>
A long time ago when I was still working in an automotive shop I taped this movie from KTTV at about three o'clock in the morning, bad reception and commercials and all. The whole thing was a revelation to me. Why, in my years of enjoying all sorts of classic movies at revival houses both in New York and here in Southern California, had I never heard of this movie? For the next three weeks I believe I would come home and watch it almost every day. As an adult child of an alcoholic father, this film moved me in a personal way that I don't think I can even fully investigate, it's just too basic for words. But in terms of cinematic quality alone, this film is a masterpiece. No matter what Elia Kazan did since, we have him to thank for this movie. There is not one false note in the whole of this movie; every actor IS the character they play, most especially Francie Nolan, played to absolute perfection by Peggy Ann Garner. The black and white cinematography is used to its best advantage, the sets are perfect, the music -- contemporary tunes playing along in the background by a rickety-sounding little orchestra -- just "there" enough to provide the auditory backdrop that is the soundtrack of the times, and the emotional intensity and pacing is even, never heavy-handed, and consistent from beginning to end. This is probably the most perfect and authentic film of the black and white era. Hopefully the reason 20th Century Fox has delayed the DVD release is that they're enhancing the package with some special features that devotees of this movie like myself will really enjoy. When the movie came out on VHS I ran to buy it. It will be the same with the DVD.
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