My Son John (1952)

 |  Drama  |  8 April 1952 (USA)
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The Jeffersons are the ideal picture-perfect all-American family in a small town, but their eldest son John returns home after a long absence spouting views that cause them to worry he may be a Communist.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Lucille Jefferson
Dan Jefferson
John Jefferson
Minor Watson ...
Dr. Carver
Father O'Dowd
Chuck Jefferson
James Young ...
Ben Jefferson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Boy (scenes deleted)
David Bond ...
College Professor (scenes deleted)
Gail Bonney ...
Jail Matron (scenes deleted)
Russ Conway ...
FBI Agent (scenes deleted)
Bill McLean ...
Parcel Post Man (scenes deleted)
Frances Morris ...
Secretary (scenes deleted)
Erskine Sanford ...
Professor (scenes deleted)


John Jefferson comes home from a trip overseas a strangely changed man. His already nervous wreck of a mother is distraught by the way he seems to be feigning feelings for her and his father that he no longer has. Plus, his odd refusal to accompany the family to church on Sunday not only disturbs her but their priest as well. He also seems to be making fun of and smirking at his father's jubilant expressions of patriotism. His poor mother cannot imagine what could have caused such a change in her favorite son, who used to be loving and church-going and now seems remote from both. He also gets strange calls and goes off to strange "meetings" with no explanation. He is also being watched by an FBI agent who comes to the home and greatly disturbs John's mother with his odd questions about him. Eventually the horrible truth comes out: John is a Communist spy! No wonder he has no real feelings for his family and shuns the church he once loved!During a high-speed chase, John is killed, but ... Written by Michael Wisper

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Release Date:

8 April 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mi hijo John  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on October 27, 1952 with Dean Jagger reprising his film role. See more »


Featured in Hearts and Minds (1974) See more »

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User Reviews

A deeply flawed but fascinating curio...
30 January 2010 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

My reason for giving this film a 4 is for some problems with the acting as well as the contrived ending necessitated by the untimely death of Robert Walker.

My complaints about the actual subject matter of the film are minimal, as, despite some revisionist history, there apparently was some Communist infiltration of parts of the US government (particularly the State Department)--as shown by the release of records from the Soviet archives in the 1990s. Was it as bad a problem as the film shows--perhaps not. And, did justifiable concerns about this justify trampling the First Amendment right to free speech--of course not. But it was a serious problem and it was a very scary time in the world--with two nuclear powers nearing a deadly showdown. And, while there was a 'Red Scare' (with some terrible abuses of civil rights), there actually was a reason to be scared. So it's natural that a film would dramatize this struggle.

Sadly, despite the timeliness of the movie, they sure didn't do a particularly good job of it. Instead of the film being informative or entertaining, it came off as silly and contrived. My first biggest complaint was with Helen Hayes. For a while, I liked her playing of this role. She was sweet and a point. But, late in the film, she began overacting horribly and I felt embarrassed watching her. I'm not sure how much of this was due to the poor writing or her acting...or both. Unlike Robert Walker and Van Heflin (who both were quite good), she did NOT underplay her role in the least! Dean Jagger, for his part, overacted a bit as well--but nearly to the level that Hayes reached.

Another problem was the result of the film makers trying to work past the fact that Walker had died towards the very end of the production. I think it would have been better to scrap the scenes he made and re-shoot them with another actor. Instead, they changed about the script, used a double in a darkened room scene and substituted a shot from Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" for his final scene--and had his voice indifferently dubbed. If you aren't looking for this, the ending will confuse you as it makes little sense. If you are, it's pretty obvious what they did--it shows.

Overall, the film comes off as a bit hysterical, disjoint and confusing. What could have been an interesting idea for a film just comes off as cheap propaganda in the end--though it could have had something to say had it been done better.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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