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The play, "The Magnificent Yankee," opened at the Royale Theater in New York on January 22, 1946, and ran for 159 performances, with Louis Calhern in the lead role. While other Hollywood actors were eligible to play Oliver Wendell Holmes, MGM decided to let Calhern reprise his Broadway role in the film, to thank him for his many years of service as a supporting player at their studio. See more »
There's not much substance here, at least in terms of the legal side of Oliver Wendell Holmes. This is more about the man as husband, with a few doses of patriotism. It'd downright sentimental.
I've always liked Louis Calhern in old films, but I'm not quite sure. He's, at best, a good character actor. It is said that he was given the title role here as thanks from the studio for being a good soldier and accepting so many character roles. Perhaps the best acting in this picture comes from Ann Harding as the wife.
The social importance of Holmes' years on the Supreme Court is mentioned, but almost in passing. But, as Bosley Crowther put it in his review at the time, it's a "gentle screen drama". It really is more about marital companionship than law, as Crowther pointed out. It is most touching as Mr. & Mrs. Holmes reach their sunset years.
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