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|Index||68 reviews in total|
I've seen this movie dozens of times and never get tired of it. It's
beautifully acted, and directed with great sensitivity by Elia Kazan.
It centers on Francie, especially her blind hero worship for her
alcoholic father. We see that even with his alcoholism, he is able to
impart great love and wisdom to Francie that help her survive and grow
up despite the many troubles she and her family encounter. Francie is
like the beloved tree outside her window that got cut down, yet which
grows again through cracks in the sidewalk.
Francie's relationship with her mother and her brother are also interesting, though secondary to the story of Francie and her father in the first half of the movie.
This is by far my favorite role by Dorothy McGuire, playing a woman who has to be "hard" to make up for her impractical, alcoholic, fantasy-driven husband. She shows her love in ways completely opposite to the ways that her husband does. Between the two parents, we see a perhaps-necessary balance of opposites. I've also always loved the roles played by Joan Blondell as Francie's man-hungry aunt, and Lloyd Nolan as the neighborhood cop. Joan Blondell's role brings touches of comedy into this wonderful drama about life and love and growing up in the city.
I just wish that Turner Classic Movies would show this film again! I think they haven't showed it in years! I think it should be shown regularly, twice a year at the very least. it is a treasure.
Francie (Peggy Ann Garner) is a plucky streetwise teen living in the
tough Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn with her brother Neeley,
her hard working mom Katie Nolan (Dorothy McGuire) and her alcoholic
lovable loser father Johnny Nolan (James Dunn). Katie's sister Sissy
(Joan Blondell) is a sassy modern woman who is causing scandal with her
third marriage and Katie cuts off contact with her. New beat cop
Officer McShane is infatuated with Sissy. The landlord is cutting back
a tree in the courtyard. Francie wants to go to a better school and her
father needs to find a better paying job.
Peggy Ann Garner is a compelling child actress. She's really great in this. And Dorothy McGuire is a terrific lead. It's a touching sentimental melodrama and a good tear jerker. It's the first directorial feature of Elia Kazan. The writers took possibly unwieldy material and adapted it perfectly onto the big screen.
This is a movie without flaws. I hadn't seen it in awhile and forgot how gruesome it can be. But it also is loving towards the frailty of human beings. Thank goodness it gave us a happy ending after all we had been through. Should have won the Oscar for Best Picture but who trusts awards. Dorothy McGuire has a role that requires so much range. She is brilliant. As is Dunne and Garner. Even the actress playing the teacher makes an enormous impact in her short scene. The kid playing Neely was unlike what we expect of cute fat kid actors of the time - stunningly honest. Kazan once said in an interview that this was his finest film. No argument from me. This one will live forever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It was the early 1900s in Brooklyn. Many families crowded together in
tenement buildings, poor families that barely made ends meet, but
always paid the monthly ten cents to the man who sold funeral
insurance. Life expectancy wasn't real long. An extra penny here and
there meant something.
This movie has special appeal to me, it came out in 1945, the year I was born. Shot in glorious black and white, the cinematography is excellent. The title is a reference to a tree growing in a courtyard, seemingly out of the concrete. The young daughter laments that it is being cut down, but dad says it won't die, it will grow back. It is also a metaphor for life, for getting back up after you have been knocked down.
Beautiful Dorothy McGuire, in her 20s here, is the mom, Katie Nolan. She is a severe mom, hardly ever smiling, because she knows how difficult it is to keep the family in home and fed.
Joan Blondell is her sister, the good, fun-loving aunt, Sissy, who is at one point banned from the family, but later returns to help the healing.
Winning an Academy Award for supporting actor was James Dunn as the father, Johnny Nolan, who calls himself a singing waiter but often drinks too much, and never seems to deliver the goods for the family. He is a "pipe dreamer", always talking about what is going to happen, without a plan to make it happen.
The real star is young (12) Peggy Ann Garner as the daughter, Francie. She is smart, reads a lot, and works hard to help the family. She adores her dad, it is clear that he has the greatest influence on her.
This is a really good movie, about family, how things become trials, and how they are able to overcome them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the early 1900s, working class Brooklyn streets bustle with poor
residents aching to earn a living. Spunky 13-year-old Peggy Ann Garner
(as Francie Nolan) and her continuously hungry 12-year-old brother Ted
Donaldson (as Neeley) collect enough rags to raise nine cents. The
money goes to help the kids' struggling family. Penny-pinching mother
Dorothy McGuire (as Katie) is a scrub-woman. Sporadically employed
father James Dunn (as Johnny) is a singing waiter. Although he is not
abusive or violent, Mr. Dunn is a hopeless alcoholic. Still, he has a
charming relationship with Garner, encouraging her to hope and dream...
When Garner notices a favorite tree is being cut down, Dunn assures his daughter the tree will grow back. Early in a series of episodic events, the family learns free-spirited aunt Joan Blondell (as Sissy) has married again. Her sister's multiple-marriages and her husband's drunkenness cause Ms. McGuire concern. Keeping both children in school becomes difficult. Although it involves fibbing about their residence, Dunn enrolls Garner in a finer school. As you might expect, she decides to become a writer. Soon, the family must move into smaller quarters. Their living situation becomes more unmanageable. Then, mother McGuire finds herself expecting...
Based on a Betty Smith's classic novel, and guided superbly by first-time feature film director Elia Kazan, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" transplants itself to the screen in extraordinary style. The Twentieth Century-Fox production team makes the picture artfully squalid. As the young heroine, Garner received much praise; she won "Film Daily" and "Oscar" awards for juvenile acting. Separating performers under 18 years of age is not done much anymore, sadly. Additionally, Dunn won an "Academy Award" for his kindly alcoholic father. In the "New York Film Critics" poll, Garner (#4) and Dunn (#8) did well in the lead categories...
Watching the film today, one is equally struck by the performance of mother McGuire, relatively ignored by those giving out acting awards at the time. The focus is clearly on daughter Garner - but the central relationship and conflict is not between father and daughter; it's between mother and daughter. McGuire and Garner have an unspoken struggle which culminates in an cathartic scene, with mother lying perilously close to death, late in pregnancy. Garner blames McGuire for all the world's ills, including Dunn's alcoholism. It's a war between fantasy and reality, optimism and pessimism, hope and fear...
When mother and daughter come to terms with each other, Garner's "Francie" can grow inside and out.
********* A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (2/28/45) Elia Kazan ~ Peggy Ann Garner, Dorothy McGuire, James Dunn, Joan Blondell
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Possibly only a director with an eye for gritty reality like the great
Elia Kazan could come up with a successful adaptation of Betty Smith's
classic novel. With the help of screen writers Tess Slesinger and Frank
Davis, with some additional dialogue by Anita Loos (uncredited), Kazan
manages to capture the atmosphere of the time and the place; he also
demonstrates his considerable skill with characterization. The result
is a movie that in spite of considerable flaws has the same raw
emotional power that has made the book such an essential.
The setting is the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn around the turn of the Twentieth Century. The original novel covered a period of about ten years in the lives of the Nolan family, which is the movie's first major gaffe: in having Peggy Ann Garner and Ted Donaldson play Francie and Neeley Nolan for the duration of the picture, he suspends the story in time and thus makes for a rather confusing adaptation of a book that spanned a decade and was about a young girl's coming of age.
Be that as it may, Peggy Ann Garner is luminous as Francie; Oscar-winner James Dunn turns in solid support as her beloved father Johnny, and Dorothy McGuire, a brilliant actress who never really received her due in Hollywood, is sensational as matriarch Katie Nolan, a woman who marries a man she is madly in love with only to discover he is a no-good drunk. He is not abusive or anything like that, it's just that married to Johnny, the twin burdens of the household duties and earning enough money to live on fall on Katie's shoulders.
This is a beautiful film. As an adaptation of the novel it fails in some key points (read it and you'll see), but overall it is a fine and moving piece of cinematic art, well-deserving of its status as an American classic.
Movies such as this continue to encourage me to watch the 'ole Black and Whites. The purity and true reflection of family values permeate this picture. It transcends time and place and represents the force of the human spirit to overcome all obstacles; big and small. The impression that stays with me the most is the relationship between father and daughter; there is a special bond that exists on pure love. As hard as things got Katie managed to provide a good home and the children were never worse for wear. She kept me entranced to see through her eyes. Though Johnny has human failings, his love of family is the lodestone of his personality and shone through to all he met. He made you feel good inside just by being around him.
Peggy Ann Garner was just 13 years old when filming "A Tree Grows in
Brooklyn." Thank you Mr. Turner because I never saw a finer acting
performance by any young teen in any film. Peggy died at age 52 , was
never a BIG STAR but her performance in this film could have never been
matched had she lived and continued in the motion picture industry for
a full lifetime. Simply stated: I was stunned by her ability.
Incidentally she did win the Academy Juvenile Award in 1945.
Dorothy McGuire as Peggy's mom.Enormously gifted. A lifetime of monumental acting achievement which didn't deviate one iota from this role. Then we have James Dunn who played Peggy's dad and for which he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor 1945. Dunn is absolutely superb as the community drunkard and a waiter with big dreams.
You will see the hustle and bustle of 1912 Brooklyn. You will hear the calliope filling the streets with the resounding music of that era. You will see hardship and poverty endured as a 13 year old girl comes of age. The interaction of characters of this film is historic...the entire film is legendary and make sure you have a handkerchief handy.
Joan Blondell 2 points, Dorothy McGuire 1 point, Peggy Ann Garner 1 point, and thats before the film began! At the end of the film the points add up to 10! After the film began I fell in love with everyone in this film, the best honest emotion of the year and one of the best of the forties. Joan Blondell yet again stole another film as the woman with the heart of gold and proved she was Warner's biggest worker in the 1930s with good reason. No need to say too much as this film speaks for itself! And if you haven't seen it more fool you! The biggest complaint with this amazing film is some films become legends and so far this is far from it but as far as I am concerned this is one of the 40s biggest (legends) with some of the best performances I have ever seen! A tree grows in Brooklyn, a tear grows in my eye!
This film is one of my all time favorites. Along with "How Green Was My Valley" it's one that always brings a tear no matter how many times I view it. The entire cast was superb. I disagree with comments that James Dunn was too old. He was just 40 at the time 13 years older than Dorothy Mcguire. Lolyd Nolan was 43 and Joan Blondell 39. The part where he sings "Annie Laurie" showing all the mixed emotions of love and hurt in his face and voice is extremely touching and reveals his frustrations. Great acting!
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