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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>
Dorothy McGuire gives the best performance I have ever seen from a lead actress. Period. And the rest of the cast from top to bottom is just about as perfect. Betty Smith's classic American novel not only comes to life, but adds dimension and poignancy, and it all revolves around McGuire's completely vulnerable yet incredibly strong performance. James Dunn deservedly won best actor for the best performance of his career. Other standouts include Blondell, Garner, Gleason, Nolan, Donaldson, and Alexander. The direction is impeccable and the photography makes you feel like you are living right there in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn with them. Not a single mundane detail is omitted or glorified, and none of the difficulties and embarrassments are whitewashed. This may well be the best purely American movie ever made.
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