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My Son John (1952)

 -  Drama  -  8 April 1952 (USA)
5.5
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 357 users  
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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 ... See full summary »

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Title: My Son John (1952)

My Son John (1952) on IMDb 5.5/10

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Lucille Jefferson
...
Stedman
...
Dan Jefferson
...
John Jefferson
Minor Watson ...
Dr. Carver
Frank McHugh ...
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)
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Storyline

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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Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

8 April 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

My Son John  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Walker died during the filming of this epic, causing a drastic re-write to the ending and clips from "Stangers on a Train" to be incorporated into it. The scene where he's lying dying in the "car crash" is one such scene. See more »

Connections

Featured in Hearts and Minds (1974) See more »

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User Reviews

 
From The Mind Of Leo McCarey
27 January 2010 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

In viewing My Son John you have to keep a few things in mind. First Leo McCarey directed and wrote the film. Second Leo McCarey was a staunch anti-Communist and part of Hollywood's right wing caucus. Third Leo McCarey was also a devout and practicing Catholic. Fourth Leo McCarey was also one of Hollywood's bigger alcoholics. Put all that together and I think you've got the answer to how My Son John was created.

It's interesting to speculate how My Son John would have turned out if Robert Walker had lived to complete the film. Putting the patchwork ending on the film that he was forced to do left a lot of plot holes. For one thing, I'm not sure exactly why the FBI in the person of Van Heflin was on to Walker. He's a government bureaucrat, a high level one, but we never really learn what he did as a job and what he might have been doing for the Communists.

What Walker is is the oldest son of Dean Jagger and Helen Hayes as a representative a group of middle Americans as you can get. He's quite a bit older than his brothers and made a good academic record and now is a big success in Washington. His two jock younger brothers, Richard Jaeckel and James Young are about to go to war in Korea and he's back home for the family sendoff. You know right away something's amiss when he shows up late, not really having the heart to wish his brothers well in fighting against the Reds in Korea.

How do you spot a Communist? Well if you're Leo McCarey you've got to dislike the Catholic Church you've been brought up in. That's what Walker does, he makes snide remarks about the church and other wholesome American institutions. Man's got to be a subversive as his parents come to realize. Remember Pius XII was Pope at the time and he was a staunch anti-Communist. This is where McCarey's Catholicism comes into play.

How incredibly naive. If Walker were really an effective spy he'd be the loudest amen shouter in church, make the most obviously big contributions in the collection plate etc. to keep his cover.

Frank McHugh reprises his role from Going My Way as Father O'Dowd who apparently has left the mean streets of Hell's Kitchen New York and Barry Fitzgerald and now is pastoring out in the red states. Since McCarey also wrote and directed Going My Way and created McHugh's character he certainly could do what he wanted with him. But for the life of me I can't figure out why McHugh adopted a brogue for this film when he had none in Going My Way.

When Leo McCarey was creating some of the best screen comedy like The Awful Truth and Once Upon A Honeymoon, there were few his peer and none better. But he was out of his league in dealing with political material. And if you're wondering about how this might have turned out if Walker had lived, take a look at McCarey's last film, Satan Never Sleeps. Also an anti-Communist film it makes My Son John look like Citizen Kane.


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