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Child of Divorce (1946)

Passed | | Drama | 15 October 1946 (USA)
An eight-year-old girl is an unwilling and disturbed witness of parental quarrels in her home, and when the parents finally secure a divorce, the judge decrees that the young girl live with... See full summary »

Director:

(as Richard O. Fleischer)

Writers:

(play) (as Leopold L. Atlas), (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Madge Meredith ...
...
Michael Benton
...
Nora, the Maid
...
Louise Norman
...
Judge
...
Dr. Sterling
...
Carrie, the Maid
Patricia Prest ...
Linda (as Pat Prest)
Gregory Marshall ...
Freddie (as Gregory Muradian)
George McDonald ...
Donnie
Patsy Converse ...
Betty
Ann Carter ...
Peggy Allen
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Storyline

An eight-year-old girl is an unwilling and disturbed witness of parental quarrels in her home, and when the parents finally secure a divorce, the judge decrees that the young girl live with her mother for eight months and her father the other four months. The divided life affects her both mentally and physically. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

15 October 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hija del divorcio  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Connections

Version of Wednesday's Child (1934) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A tearjerker focuses on the impact of divorce on children
14 March 2000 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

From 1934 to 1968, the Hays Code and the Production Code Administration imposed a rigid system of self-censorship on the movie industry. The Code banned treatment of certain subjects, one of which was divorce. Thus for the middle third of the century, American film basically ignored the subject of divorce--while millions of people were getting divorced and the divorce rate was rising steadily. Mostly the subject is treated in romantic comedies such as "The Awful Truth" in which a couple gets divorced at the beginning of the film and remarries at the end. The couples are usually quite wealthy and they almost never have children. Obviously, this sort of movie divorce is nothing like the real thing.

"Child of Divorce" is one of the very few serious treatments of divorce during the Hays Code era. Because it treats the subject in a very negative light, it was not censored. The Herrick Library of the Motion Picture Academy in Beverly Hills preserves all the files of the Production Code Administration. The file on "Child of Divorce" indicates that the script was passed without any objections.

Bobbi is a sensitive and loving 8 year old girl, very devoted to her parents Ray and Joan. Ray is on the road a lot and Joan starts an affair with Michael. Bobbi and her friends spot Joan making out with Michael in the park. Soon the inevitable occurs and Ray and Joan split up. The divorce court must decide which spouse is the more guilty (this was necessary in the era of fault divorce when the spouses did not enter into a collusive agreement). Bobbi is required to testify that she saw her father strike her mother (of course, the mother struck the first blow). Since Joan obviously was committing adultery, which was always considered much more serious than mere spousal abuse, this hearing is a bit puzzling. But it is a miserable experience for all concerned and it is very tough on the kid.

The judge awards custody to Joan (evidently because Ray was the guilty party); Ray is allowed to have Bobbi during the summers. However, Bobbi is miserable. She can't stand Michael. And when she finally goes to see Ray, she finds out that he is involved with Lucille. The child collapses.

The solution, recommended by a kindly family doctor: boarding school. And there Bobbi learns to make the best of it. Here's where you'll go for your hankies.

Although the picture is mediocre in execution and the acting basically quite wooden (except for Sharyn Moffett who plays Bobbi), the picture is quite worthwhile and genuinely touching. It was far ahead of its time and stands out as one of the very few candid explorations of the realities of divorce that appeared during the Hays era. The couple gets divorced over Joan's love affair; quite realistic. They don't get back together. Both spouses remarry--and hopefully are happier with their new spouses than the old ones. Even more realistic. The legal aspects of the divorce are quite miserable. Still more realistic. And the divorce is devastating for the child--very realistic indeed. Divorce is almost always a traumatic event in the lives of children--and sometimes it's as catastrophic as it was for Bobbi in this film. Parents have extremely difficulty with both custodial and non-custodial arrangements and the kids detest their new step parents. Right on target. Not until the pictures of the late 1970's and early 1980's do we find comparable exploration of what divorce is really all about. Think of "Kramer vs. Kramer," "An Unmarried Woman," or "Shoot the Moon" as modern-day versions of the themes explored in "Child of Divorce" way back in 1946. Too bad the film is commercially unavailable and lacks even a Maltin summary in IMDB.


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