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When I Grow Up (1951)

Approved | | Drama | 20 April 1951 (USA)
"When I Grow Up" is an uncharacteristically modest film from producer Sam Spiegel (during his "S. P. Eagle" years). Bobby Driscoll plays a young boy who feels neglected and misunderstood at... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Josh / Danny Reed
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Father Reed
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Mother Reed (1890's)
...
Ruthie Reed
Johnny McGovern ...
Duckface Kelly
Frances Chaney ...
Mrs. Kelly (as Frances Cheney)
Poodles Hanneford ...
Bobo
Ralph Dumke ...
Carp
Paul Guilfoyle ...
Doc
Paul Levitt ...
Carp's Assistant
Griff Barnett ...
Dr. Bailey
Margaret Lloyd ...
Volunteer Nurse
...
Grandpa Reed
...
Father Reed (modern) (as Henry Morgan)
Elisabeth Fraser ...
Mother Reed (modern)
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Storyline

"When I Grow Up" is an uncharacteristically modest film from producer Sam Spiegel (during his "S. P. Eagle" years). Bobby Driscoll plays a young boy who feels neglected and misunderstood at home. Preparing to run away, Bobby chances across an old diary once kept by his grandfather (Charley Grapewin). Leafing through the yellowed pages, Bobby discovers that grandpa went through many of the same childhood travails that Bobby is enduring at that moment--and look how well gramps turned out! Armed with a renewed understanding of (and appreciation for) his elders, Bobby decides to stick around for a while and see how things develop. Written by filmfactsman

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Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

20 April 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Denny på rymmarstråt  »

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

George Fields, who plays the harmonica in the opening theme, also plays the harmonica solo in the song "Moon River" for Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). See more »

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User Reviews

 
Reed Family Values
30 August 2014 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

For a modest little B picture When I Grow Up packs a lot of heart string tugging punch. Sam Spiegel produced this when he was operating under S.P. Eagle and screenwriter Michael Kanin got his only directorial credit for the screen.

This is the story of two generations of Reeds, present day 1951 with Harry Morgan and Elizabeth Fraser trying to raise Bobby Driscoll whom they see as willfully disobedient. Living with them is Morgan's father and Driscoll's grandfather Charley Grapewin. After a hand wringing session with Morgan and Fraser about how are we going to deal with this rebellious kid, Grapewin goes up to the attic and finds a diary he kept as a kid.

As he reads his thoughts back then we're transported to 1892 and now Grapewin's role is also played by Driscoll. He's being brought up by a very stern father in Robert Preston and a deferring wife in Martha Scott. He also as a little sister in Sherry Jackson who delights in tormenting him and the parents always take her side. She's daddy's little girl and everyone knows it. Watching Preston he's far from the charming conman Harold Hill who was operating in Iowa in this era.

The influence of Mark Twain is unmistakable here as Driscoll slips neatly into a Tom Sawyer like childhood. The Huckleberry Finn of the story is Johnny McGovern whom Driscoll's parents warn about associating with such disreputable people. McGovern's mom is reputed to be a lady of easy virtue.

A decision by the boys to run away and join the circus has an impact that's felt two generations away. That's all I can say about how the lives of Charley Grapewin and his grandson are affected, but affected they are.

The closest film I could compare this with is A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Nostalgia to be sure, but tempered with a very hard realism about what life was like in semi-rural setting for Driscoll and an urban setting for the Nolan family in A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.

When I Grow Up hasn't got the production values a major studio could have given it. But the ensemble cast is just about perfect in their roles and it will get the tear glands working.


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