10 user 2 critic

My Son, My Son! (1940)

A self-made success is determined to give his son the lavish upbringing he himself was denied. Not surprisingly, the son grows up to be spoiled rotten, causing grief and pain to everyone who loves him.


Charles Vidor


Howard Spring (novel), Lenore J. Coffee (screenplay) (as Lenore Coffee)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Madeleine Carroll ... Livia Vaynol
Brian Aherne ... William Essex
Louis Hayward ... Oliver Essex
Laraine Day ... Maeve O'Riorden
Henry Hull ... Dermot O'Riorden
Josephine Hutchinson ... Nellie (Moscrop) Essex
Sophie Stewart Sophie Stewart ... Sheila O'Riorden
Bruce Lester ... Rory O'Riorden
Scotty Beckett ... Oliver as a Child
Brenda Henderson Brenda Henderson ... Maeve as a Child
Teddy Moorwood Teddy Moorwood ... Rory as a Child
May Beatty May Beatty ... Annie
Stanley Logan Stanley Logan ... The Colonel
Lionel Belmore ... Mr. Moscrop
Mary Gordon ... Mrs. Mulvaney


A self-made success is determined to give his son the lavish upbringing he himself was denied. Not surprisingly, the son grows up to be spoiled rotten, causing grief and pain to everyone who loves him.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

22 March 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Irrwege des Oliver Essex See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Edward Small Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The title of the movie is taken from Samuel II, 18:33 of the bible, as written in the movie's prologue: "And the king was moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept...Oh, my son Absalom...Would God I had died for thee, oh Absalom, my son, my son!" See more »


Referenced in You'll Find Out (1940) See more »


My Son, My Son
Written by L. Wolfe Gilbert and Lew Pollack
See more »

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User Reviews

A famous writer's love for his no-good son
2 March 2007 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Brian Aherne stars in "My Son, My Son," the son being Louis Hayward in this 1940 film. Madeline Carroll, Laraine Day, Henry Hull, and Josephine Hutchinson also star in this saga that spans 20+ years. William Essex is an ambitious young man, determined to get out of the slums. He winds up helping a sick man and his daughter (Hutchinson) by delivering bread to their customers. After the man's death, he marries the daughter, a stern religious woman. Together they have a son, Oliver. William has a blind spot when it comes to the boy and is overly indulgent, even when it becomes evident that the kid is a manipulative cheat and liar. William is eventually widowed and reconnects with an artist, Livia (Carroll), whom he met while doing research for a novel in the mines. Unfortunately Oliver is in love with her as well and considers this a big competition, although Livia is not in love with him. His behavior nearly drives Livia away.

Oliver then has his way with a childhood friend, now an actress currently starring in William's play - and the daughter of William's best friend. By the time Oliver goes to serve in World War I, he has cut a wide path of destruction.

"My Son, My Son" makes for an okay movie but has a very disappointing performance by Brian Aherne. Aherne, who by this time had been overshadowed by Errol Flynn, was capable of much better as he showed in "Merrily We Live" and other films. He was an accomplished stage actor as well. However, he did not seem very committed to this material. In a way, I don't blame him. The character comes across like an idiot letting this brat get away with what he did.

The rest of the performances are very good, particularly from Hayward, who did this smooth con man type of character very well. Carroll is luminous as a woman desperately in love with William but frightened of what Oliver might do next. Laraine Day is lovely as Maeve, who harbors a secret love for William and whose life takes on tragic proportions.

"My Son, My Son" is nowhere near as horrible as one of the reviews indicates (in my opinion) but it isn't great. It seems to have a tacked-on Hollywood ending as well.

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