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In the early 1900's Tennessee, a loving family undergoes the shock of the father's sudden, accidental death. The widow and her young son must endure the heartache of life following the tragedy, but slowly rise up from the ashes to face the hope of renewed life. Written by
Martin H. Booda <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This movie was filmed in the actual neighborhood where Agee lived as a boy in Knoxville, TN. Although the old Agee house was torn down during production, a portion of it was shipped to New York for filming of interior scenes. See more »
Why didn't someone tell me to bring 5 boxes of hankies for this one? I just watched (or rather re-watched after some 30 years) All The Way Home, (1963), based on the James Agee play "A Death In the Family". This story has seen other versions, but this one is by far the most outstanding.
Robert Preston was in his element as a loving husband and father of a young son, played endearingly by Michael Kearney. Jean Simmons gives yet another incredible performance as the wife, and Aline MacMahon shines as Aunt Hannah. She was an old woman in 1963, but still, how that woman could act. She was great in the 1930's, she was great in the 1960's. She's just great! It was also neat to see John Cullum the musical star in an early role in a non-musical. He was memorable as the brother who comes to tell the bad news, and not being able to face the wife, bursts into tears and hugs Aunt Hannah instead, and this is how the wife learns that her husband has died. An effective moment, not maudlin at all, but very natural. Do we always learn about the death of a relative in an ideal way? Not at all. I learned about the death of my mother after coming home from the grocery store, my arms filled with packages. It was like someone had kicked me in the stomach and the groceries suddenly felt like dead weight.
This film's actions take place in America during the World War One era, a time period shamelessly neglected by today's filmmakers. I guess they don't like its outright sentimentality, they'd rather foist gore and sex on us instead.
The film's credits are fantastic for the silent film fan, because the credits roll and are interspersed with shots of the young son and the father in the theater laughing at a Charlie Chaplin movie (sorry, Charlie fans, I didn't recognize which one it was but it had Charlie trying to get through a door in which a fat man's rear end was stuck). The "audience" is laughing like mad. It was eerily reminiscent of the last scene in the silent classic The Crowd (1928), only this film begins with such a scene. You hear a tinny piano in the background and it puts you immediately in the correct frame of mind to watch such a picture.
You are lulled into thinking you will be watching a simple tale of an early 20th century American family, but slowly you find yourself getting deeper and deeper into pathos and drama, a story filled with universal truths which are often hard for us to bear. A really wonderful film. It needs to be out on video or DVD.
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