A man's life is retold just after his funeral. Beginning as a track walker, Tom Garner rose through all sorts of railroad jobs to head the company. In the meantime he lost touch with his ...
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A man's life is retold just after his funeral. Beginning as a track walker, Tom Garner rose through all sorts of railroad jobs to head the company. In the meantime he lost touch with his family. When he saw what was happening it was already too late.Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For many years, this was a "lost" film. When critic Pauline Kael wrote her "New Yorker" article "Raising Kane" claiming this film heavily influenced the development of Citizen Kane (1941), she could only reference it from memory as prints had not been available for 30 years. When the film was "rediscovered", it was discovered that Kael had overstated her case: It was not the example of classic cinema she had claimed it was, and its influences on "Kane" likely were minimal. See more »
As a boy, Tom cuts the back of his right hand badly. We are shown in a later scene that the scar is prominent as an old man. Yet on scenes showing him in between there is no scar. See more »
When I was a kid, we didn't have radios and moving pictures and automobiles and all things like kids have today. We had fun just the same. And the place we liked best was the swimming hole.
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The theatrical version of the film was lost to the viewing public over the years. The film was seen only in poor quality, cut-down 16mm versions for television and non-theatrical showing. Various portions of the film were missing in different prints: this may have been because of cuts made by individual television stations, by damage to prints, or a combination of both. See more »
What's the bottom line? A great and successful businessman with a disastrous personal life
The story of Tom Garner opens with his grand funeral and is told through a series of elegant flashbacks narrated by his faithful lifetime friend Henry. Henry and his wife debate whether Tom was a great man and a genius or an utterly worthless scoundrel. The film is beautifully written, acted and directed, and I highly recommend it.
Tom was the fabulously rich and successful owner of a large railroad, dominating his board of directors and his competition, terrorizing his employees, slaughtering strikers. Tom's ambitious wife Sally was responsible for all of Tom's success. When he met her, he was illiterate and entirely content with his work as a trackwalker for the railroad. Sally teaches him to read and takes over his trackwalker job while Tom goes to school. He starts to rise one step at a time through the railroad hierarchy until he eventually takes over as president.
But as Tom becomes a business tycoon, his marriage to Sally gradually falls to pieces. His spoiled son despises him, and he takes up with a much younger woman (the aptly named Eve), with predictably catastrophic consequences. In his business life, Tom is a total success; in his personal life, a disastrous failure. Much like the Hearst figure in "Citizen Kane," Tom symbolizes the best and the worst of the capitalist system.
Spencer Tracy is terrific in the role of Tom Garner and the business scenes ring with authenticity. Colleen Moore is also excellent as Sally; both of them age beautifully in the multi-generational story. The film was written by Preston Sturges, but is nothing like the screwball comedies for which Sturges became famous.
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