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My Son John (1952) More at IMDbPro »

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Release Date:
8 April 1952 (USA) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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User Reviews:
Heavy handed anti-commie propaganda all of the way See more (31 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Helen Hayes ... Lucille Jefferson

Van Heflin ... Stedman

Dean Jagger ... Dan Jefferson

Robert Walker ... John Jefferson

Minor Watson ... Dr. Carver

Frank McHugh ... Father O'Dowd

Richard Jaeckel ... Chuck Jefferson

James Young ... Ben Jefferson
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Lee Aaker ... 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)
Irene Winston ... Ruth Carlin (scenes deleted)
Jimmie Dundee ... Taxi Driver (uncredited)
Douglas Evans ... Government Employee (uncredited)
Nancy Hale ... Nurse (uncredited)
Sam Harris ... Professor at Graduation Ceremony (uncredited)
Todd Karns ... Bedford (uncredited)

Leo McCarey ... John Jefferson (voice) (uncredited)
Lee Miller ... Policeman at Shooting Scene (uncredited)

David Newell ... FBI Agent (uncredited)
Vera Stokes ... Secretary (uncredited)
Fred Sweeney ... Cleaner (uncredited)
Margaret Wells ... Nurse (uncredited)

Directed by
Leo McCarey 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Myles Connolly 
John Lee Mahin  adaptation
Leo McCarey  screenplay
Leo McCarey  story

Produced by
Leo McCarey .... producer
Original Music by
Robert Emmett Dolan 
Cinematography by
Harry Stradling Sr.  (as Harry Stradling)
Film Editing by
Marvin Coil 
Art Direction by
William Flannery 
Hal Pereira 
Set Decoration by
Sam Comer 
Emile Kuri 
Costume Design by
Edith Head 
Makeup Department
Wally Westmore .... makeup supervisor
Art Department
Gene Lauritzen .... construction coordinator (uncredited)
Sound Department
Gene Garvin .... sound recordist
Gene Merritt .... sound recordist
Visual Effects by
Farciot Edouart .... process photography
Gordon Jennings .... special photographic effects
Loyal Griggs .... transparencies (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Joan Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Music Department
Robert Russell Bennett .... orchestrator
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
USA:122 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Filming Locations:

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 »
Dan Jefferson:John!
John Jefferson:Oh, Father, let's not go into it any more.
Dan Jefferson:Now I've, I've got another subject for you.
Dan Jefferson:As your father, you and I are going to have a talk, a good talk, away from your Mother. And it's about you, son.
John Jefferson:Well, if you'd enjoy it, Father...
Dan Jefferson:Well, I don't know whether you will. But as I told you, we're alert. And we ARE alert.
John Jefferson:You just said that.
Dan Jefferson:Yes, and you sound to me like, like one of those guys that we should be alert about.
John Jefferson:One of those guys?
Dan Jefferson:I just said that you sounded like one, I didn't say that you... 'cos if thought that you really were, you know, I'd take you out in the backyard and I'd give it you, both barrels.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Edited from Strangers on a Train (1951)See more »


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
Heavy handed anti-commie propaganda all of the way, 17 May 2016
Author: calvinnme from United States

In the beginning we see all of the Jeffersons -sans the titular John - going to church in their small town, getting ready to send their two sons off to Korea. These are the good sons, the literally blue eyed blonde haired sons in their uniforms going off to war, with the church symbolically behind them as the priest is the one to drive them off to join up with their regiments. Hey. Have I just wandered into a Nazi propaganda film, because so far it sure seems like it! Didn't Sam Goldwyn make "The North Star" just nine years before telling us how great and friendly those Russians were? And that Stalin, he was just a big lovable father 1943 that is.

John is given a big build up before he even physically enters the scene. He is a big intellect. His brothers were the football players, he was the student. Dad is suspicious of John and thinks he looks down on them. Mom is still seeing him as a little boy, and sometimes it gets downright creepy. You almost feel like if John died and she lived we'd have the reverse of Hitchcock's "Psycho" playing out as John would be the stuffed one sitting in a rocker. John is also treated as some sort of supernatural threat that only mother love and the Catholic church can defeat. The truth unfolds as though the son has been found out to be a vampire, one of the walking dead. Rosaries and crosses and talk of God thus repel him.

There also seemed to be quite a bit of Bruno ("Strangers on a Train") in John Jefferson, especially with cigarette in hand, conversing with dear old Mom: Oh you know how father is, etc. He just preferred a gray flannel suit to a silk dressing gown, and communism to homosexuality. Besides the dark shadow of Marxism-Leninism hovering over the Jefferson household, there is the dark shadow of mom's menopause. Mother Jefferson does seem very subject to mood swings, even before she starts to suspect John's secret. That's why the doctor gave her those three times a day pills. I think Helen Hayes played this role very well, with just the right tone of confused mother love, and a little bit of pixilation. But maybe it would have been better if her two All-American sons had actually sent her back an opium pipe from their government-sponsored trip to Korea rather than a kimono, and the necessary contents to fill it. Mom could have mellowed out a bit. Who sends their mom a kimono anyways?

Leaving aside the Communist element, this film is similar to ones like All My Sons and others of the deep, dark, family secret genre. Usually it's the old man who is hiding something from his cheerily normal family. This time it's the son who has the secret. That sets up all those claustrophobic, dark, gloomy scenes between the three in their somewhat spooky house. And while it's overlong and overwrought, that's the saving grace of this film. There's a certain pedestrian reality to this aspect of the movie that's separate from all the Red Scare guff. I was hoping John would come through with a few more anti-clerical shafts at the expense of the priest, but you can't have everything.

If you want to see a similar film from the same era, see John Wayne's "Big Jim McLain". That one has a lot more action, Wayne style, but still makes the same basic claim. Loyal all-American guys and gals are physically attractive and good at sports and genuinely well liked. The ones that are likely to be seduced by Communism lack athletic ability and may be overly intellectual, making them prime targets for being philosophically enslaved by their Soviet masters. However, in trying to fight the Soviet menace, the authorities use tactics similar to those they say that they are fighting, such as faking a car accident, impersonating Joe average, and then smooth talking their way into the home of the unknowing parents so they can get them talking and maybe get some clues, which FBI agent Van Heflin does. Yet somehow, being Heflin after all, he manages to remain charming throughout.

This had to have been an A-list production for Paramount, because of the very talented cast. You have Academy award winning Helen Hayes and Van Heflin, Dean Jagger as John's father playing it a bit over the top, and finally Frank McHugh in a more serious role than I was accustomed to seeing him in, but still with a touch of that comic wit he displayed over at Warner Brothers in the 30'sand 40's. I'd recommend it because the mass hysteria of the red scares may be 65 years in the past, but this film gives us a good record of how it affected the film industry. I'm giving a 6/10 more for historical value and being a snapshot in time.

This was on Turner Classic Movies about six years ago, just once. Other than buying the rather pricey DVD, the only other way I know to see it is Amazon Prime, where it is free per view, which is how I saw it today.

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