28 user 11 critic

Of Human Hearts (1938)

Passed | | Drama, Western | 11 February 1938 (USA)
Ethan Wilkins is a poor and honest man who ministers to the human soul, while his son Jason yearns to be a doctor, helping people in the earthly realm.


Clarence Brown


Bradbury Foote (screen play), Honore Morrow (story "Benefits Forgot") (as Honoré Morrow)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Huston ... Ethan Wilkins
James Stewart ... Jason Wilkins
Beulah Bondi ... Mary Wilkins
Guy Kibbee ... George Ames
Charles Coburn ... Dr. Charles Shingle
John Carradine ... President Lincoln
Ann Rutherford ... Annie Hawks
Charley Grapewin ... Jim Meeker
Leona Roberts ... Sister Clarke
Gene Lockhart ... Quid
Clem Bevans ... Elder Massey
Arthur Aylesworth ... Rufus Inchpin
Gene Reynolds ... Jason Wilkins - as a Child
Leatrice Joy Gilbert ... Annie Hawks - as a Child
Sterling Holloway ... Chauncey Ames


Ethan Wilkins is a poor and honest man who ministers to the human soul, while his son Jason yearns to be a doctor, helping people in the earthly realm. Written by <perrymv@sumter.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Great $5,000 Title Contest Picture See more »


Drama | Western


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Several actors listed in studio records were not seen in the film. These were, with their character names: Frank McGlynn Sr. (Lout), John Miljan (Captain Griggs), Frank Reicher (Officer), Willard Robertson (Recruiting Officer) and Morgan Wallace (Dr. Crandall) See more »


When James is told he can't have the magazines and sees they are going to Mr. Ame's son, he turns away to leave the room twice in successive shots. See more »


Sister Clarke: Excuse me, Parson. I've been thinkin', after the meetin' tomorrow, where are you gonna' go?
Rev. Ethan Wilkins: We're going up into the hills, towards Tomkinsville.
Sister Clarke: That's what I thought. Gets kinda' cold up there at nights, this time of year. That boy of your'n ought to have a coat.
Rev. Ethan Wilkins: Oh, he's all right. He's as strong as a bull.
Sister Clarke: Well, my man was strong as a bull, too. But he got the misery and died in no time. No time at all... Well, I want to give your boy this coat.
[Hands him an old, rustic-looking black coat]
Rev. Ethan Wilkins: That's...
See more »


Featured in Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream (1998) See more »


The Battle Cry of Freedom
(1862) (uncredited)
Written by George Frederick Root
Snippet played in the montage at the start of the Civil war
See more »

User Reviews

Another Cinema Treasure
3 March 2006 | by pdabbsSee all my reviews

This movie is a reminder of the treasures we have to enjoy from the early eras of movie-making. Walter Huston portrays a minister who has sensitivity and understanding for his parishioners but is bound by the restrictive morals of his background. The story takes place in the period before and during the Civil War. The minister has moments when he really is an admirable man; he even has the courage to grab and stop a runaway horse. That horse becomes a thread that winds through the rest of the movie. However, his treatment of his young son is a good example of why ministers' children are often described as troubled. Beaulah Bondi plays the saintly wife/mother whose love binds the family. Her unconditional love and sacrifice first console the boy and then elicit a narrow selfishness from the boy when he leaves home and goes to medical school in Baltimore.

There are some wonderful moments in this movie. It is notable that James Stewart could play such a callow young man who takes advantage of his mother's generosity.

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Release Date:

11 February 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Benefits Forgot See more »

Filming Locations:

Agoura, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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