All My Sons tells the story of Joe Keller, a successful, middle-aged, self-made man who has done a terrible and tragic thing. He framed his business partner for a crime and engineered his ... See full summary »
All My Sons tells the story of Joe Keller, a successful, middle-aged, self-made man who has done a terrible and tragic thing. He framed his business partner for a crime and engineered his own exoneration. Now, his son is about to marry the partner's daughter, the affair is revisited, and his lie of a life is unraveled. Written by
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on May 1, 1950 with Burt Lancaster reprising his film role. See more »
When Joe comes out of the house upon Annie's arrival, he comes down the front steps and walks into the yard with his arms raised. In the next instant, he's back at the steps and his arms are down. See more »
Put her to bed, Joe. Both of you go to bed. Staying up won't help; sleep will. Sleep's a wonderful thing, the best thing about living.
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The movie version of Arthur Miller's All My Sons is yet another excellent example of how a fairly dreadful play can make a watchable, even beautiful film. In its day quite relevant, the play now reeks of the stuffily leftish Old Testament pieties of the Group Theatre of the thirties, and in style, if not content, anticipates the think-piece, more mainstream television dramas of the fifties. The plot is worth going into only briefly, and concerns a morally corrupt though not innately bad manufacturer of aircraft parts whose cost-cutting was responsible for the crashing of several planes during the then recent Second World War. Set in what appears to be either a New York suburb or a leafy section of one of the city's outer boroughs, the films is beautifully photographed and designed. It isn't quite realistic, as it is obviously a studio product, but it is far less artificial-looking than most movies of the period, and is singularly evocative in every detail of a way of middle class life, leisurely and informal, egalitarian and yet conscious of social distinctions, that has long passed into history. Beautifully rendered also is the large, very comfortable house in and around which much of the film takes place. Not quite a mansion, it is nevertheless roomy and in its way elegant, of Victorian vintage or nearly so. We get to see so much of it. The dining room, with its fluffy, lacey things all about; the heavy soup bowls and plates decorated with vines and flowers; and in its somwhat retro feeling it appears, like the family itself, both vaguely European and wholesomely American. Everything in the house seems heavy and solid, nailed down, as it were, as if this way of life was going to go on forever. The scenes in the backyard show the lazy, hazy summer afternoons of lemonade and hammocks, before the arrival of television, interstate highways, and shopping malls. Overall the picture is so brilliantly and minutely detailed, whether the set is a restaurant or a factory, that it is astonishing that it didn't win the Academy Award for set design. The action, consisting mostly of people either arguing with one another, lying, or expressing strong emotions, like love and hate, is very well presented and framed within the various settings. None of the actors in the film, including a young Burt Lancaster, is at his absolute best, though Edward G. Robinson, as the paterfamilas, in snugly in his element here, and quite credible, if not moving. There's a cockiness to Robinson which, though quite charming in certain roles, works against pathos or sympathy of any kind. Thus, in the end, the film is strangely fails to tug at the heartstrings, so to speak; it worked better in the earlier scenes, before the story built a head of steam. A few behind the scenes things are worth mentioning, not the least of which director Irving Reis, whose orchestration of this and several other films of the period showed great potential. Like Robert Wise, Mark Robson, John Sturges, Edward Dmytryk and Jules Dassin, Reis was a strong up-and-comer in the Hollywood pecking order of directors of the time, and was, sadly, to die just a few years later. Mady Christians, who plays Robinson's foreign-born wife, was blacklisted shortly after the film came about. All My Sons was one of the films that was presumably going to launch its studio, the newly reorganized Universal-International, into the big leagues. It didn't, but that's another story.
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