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A Modern Hero (1934)

Unrated | | Drama , Romance | 21 April 1934 (USA)
Pierre is a young and handsome circus rider whose mother has long tolerated his amorous adventures but becomes genuinely concerned when he actually falls in love. She reveals to him that ... See full summary »

Director:

Georg Wilhelm Pabst (as G.W. Pabst)

Writers:

Louis Bromfield (novel), Gene Markey (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Barthelmess ... Pierre Radier, aka Paul Rader
Jean Muir ... Joanna Ryan Croy
Marjorie Rambeau ... Mme. Azais
Verree Teasdale ... Lady Claire Benston
Florence Eldridge ... Leah Ernst
Dorothy Burgess ... Hazel Flint Radier
Hobart Cavanaugh ... Henry Mueller
William Janney ... Young Pierre Croy
Arthur Hohl ... Homer Flint
Theodore Newton ... Elmer Croy
J.M. Kerrigan ... Mr. Ryan
Maidel Turner ... Aunt Clara Weingartner
Mickey Rentschler ... Young Pierre as a Child
Richard Tucker ... Mr. Eggelson
Judith Vosselli ... Mrs. Eggelson
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Storyline

Pierre is a young and handsome circus rider whose mother has long tolerated his amorous adventures but becomes genuinely concerned when he actually falls in love. She reveals to him that he's the son of a wealthy man, whom she could not marry because of the circus life. But Pierre uses this knowledge as a springboard to wealth and fame himself, as an automobile maker in the early days of the industry, and as a munitions dealer when war breaks out. But his ambition seems to take its toll on all his relationships, and he seems unaware that he is over-reaching himself... Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 April 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Herói Moderno See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Via a telegram, we learn that the town of Pentland is in Illinois. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the film, Pierre is shown at the circus getting on a horse and going around the ring counter-clockwise. But, in the close-up shots, he is going around clockwise. See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover
(uncredited)
Music by Harry M. Woods
Played on the organ when Pierre tells his mother he hates the circus
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A man who has wealth, power...and yet nothing!
18 March 2016 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

In many ways, "A Modern Hero" reminds me of one of Spencer Tracy's best and most forgotten great films, "Edward My Son". Both films are about men who are bent on success at all costs and who channel all of their love and energy into their sons...and end up destroying them in the process.

When the film begins, Pierre (Richard Barthelmess) is a nice guy who performs at the circus. However, his mother is just awful...and she teaches him that love is nothing nor are women. Not surprisingly, he internalizes this message and spends the rest of his life using people and striving for money and power. After leaving the circus, he buys a bicycle business and soon moves into the burgeoning automobile business at the turn of the century. During all this time, his only thoughts are about money and power and slowly you see the nice guy disappear and a jerk replace him. He marries a woman...but is cold and indifferent towards her. Later, however, he learns that a boy he fathered out of wedlock lives nearby...and he spends the rest of the film heaping gifts and attention on the boy...and expecting nothing in the way of responsibility. Ultimately, by the end of the film, Pierre has really achieved nothing...and the brutal scene when he returns to his mother is one of the most cynical I can recall!

Overall, this is a very well made film--a modern morality tale about the pursuit of riches that can consume a man's soul. Not quite as hard-hitting as "Edward My Son" but the pair of films would make a terrific double feature! Well worth seeing and very well written. It's also all the more striking because Barthelmess was such a boyish looking guy and so easy to like...and seeing him in this sort of role sure packs a punch.


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