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When young Robert Shannon is orphaned he leaves his home in Ireland and travels to Langford, Scotland, home of his maternal grandparents. Growing up in the home of his penny-pinching grandfather is made bearable by his doting but irresponsible great-grandfather, loving grandmother and kind aunt and uncle. After a rocky start in his new school Robbie adjusts and is befriended by Gavin and Allison, whom he grows to love as the years pass. As he matures into a young man Robbie's dreams turn to medicine and becoming a doctor. Supported by everyone in the family except his grandfather, he studies for a scholarship as a way to escape life toiling in the local boiler-works. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
Dean Stockwell as orphaned Irish lad raised by Scottish grandparents...
Fidelity to a book when transitioned to the screen is a good thing, but not when there's an overabundance of plot to cover. Some details of the A.J. Cronin novel could have been trimmed or eliminated entirely in order to present a more concise telling of a tale involving an orphan boy's growing up pains in Scotland when his mother dies.
DEAN STOCKWELL is the boy, a sort of David Copperfield youth who has to adjust to harsher times in a hurry. His Scottish grandparents are tight with their money and have little to offer him other than a roof over his head and a grandfather who takes him under his wing with his tall tales and carefree high-spirited behavior.
As the boy's maternal grandparents, HUME CRONYN and SELENA ROYLE are fine, in keeping with the professional tone of all the supporting performances. JESSICA TANDY seems a bit miscast as Cronyn's eldest daughter who hates to see Dean Stockwell suffering from ill treatment by his skinflint relatives. GLADYS COOPER is excellent as the well-intentioned grandma who thinks grandpa Coburn is a bad influence on the boy's upbringing.
TOM DRAKE and BEVERLY TYLER step into the adult portion of the film as the boy (now a young man) hopes to win a scholarship that will help him study medicine, urged on by the professor who recognizes his skill, well played by RICHARD HAYDN. But by the time the story has reached the midway point, too much time has been spent in developing the boy's "green years" when there is so much plot to be developed for the balance of the film. A good trimming of unnecessary material would have been of great benefit to the story, particularly the sub-plot involving Drake's closest friend (HANK DANIELS) who meets an untimely death on the railroad tracks.
Charles Coburn's rich characterization of the very animated great grandfather is the film's strongest point of interest. He's wonderful and deserves the star billing he gets here. Full of bluster and tall tales, he's a windbag but an amusing one.
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