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 »
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
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 »
Ever since a friend in grad school described it: "Robert Walker is mean to his mother, so everyone suspects he's a Communist." It was worth the wait: it is spectacularly awful. Some other reviewers say the last 3rd is spoiled because of Walker's death. Not true: This movie is a disaster from the first scene. McCarey tries to present everyone but Walker as a simple, patriotic American. He succeeds in making patriotism look simple-minded. Walker seems to be still playing Bruno, ironic in a world of terminally sincere people. (He's literally Bruno in the scenes spliced in from "Strangers on a Train.") And Helen Hayes! She seems to think she's playing Mary Tyrone in a road company of "Long Day's Journey," and she's pitching it to the back balcony: only morphine addiction and withdrawal could justify the split-second mood swings that occur within a single sentence.
Thanks to TCM for making my dream come true. And for showing pro-Soviet films that are as wonderfully bad in their way as "My Son John." Apparently the thought of the Soviet Union turned everyone in Hollywood, friend and foe, into hysterical simpletons.
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