6.8/10
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Keeper of the Flame (1942)

Not Rated | | Drama, Mystery | December 1942 (USA)
Journalist Steve O'Malley wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.

Director:

George Cukor

Writers:

I.A.R. Wylie (novel), Donald Ogden Stewart (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Spencer Tracy ... Steven O'Malley
Katharine Hepburn ... Christine Forrest
Richard Whorf ... Clive Kerndon
Margaret Wycherly ... Mrs. Forrest
Forrest Tucker ... Geoffrey Midford
Frank Craven ... Dr. Fielding
Stephen McNally ... Freddie Ridges (as Horace McNally)
Percy Kilbride ... Orion Peabody
Audrey Christie ... Jane Harding
Darryl Hickman ... Jeb Rickards
Donald Meek ... Mr. Arbuthnot
Howard Da Silva ... Jason Rickards (as Howard da Silva)
William Newell William Newell ... Piggot
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Storyline

American military leader and war hero Robert Forrester, universally beloved and respected within the country and thus touted as Presidential material, has just died in a freak car accident on his sprawling estate, where, during an unexpected rainstorm, the car he was driving plunged over a ravine as he didn't notice the washed-out bridge. While the nation mourns, the national reporters descend on his small hometown to write the story of the incident. One reporter who won't is renowned Steven O'Malley, who wants instead to write an in-depth piece on the man to preserve his status within the public consciousness. Although happy to use official documents and records, O'Malley wants most specifically to speak to his wife, Christine Forrester, which may be a difficult task as she has refused to grant any interviews as a very private person. O'Malley is able to meet with Christine in person, and although she is reluctant to oblige his request at first, she is convinced by Robert's aide, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

FIERY LOVE DRAMA! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

December 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die ganze Wahrheit See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,172,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Geoffrey Midford (Forrest Tucker) drives a brand new 1942 Lincoln Continental convertible, the last model that rolled off the assembly lines in 1941 before civilian automobile production was abandoned as a result of WWII. See more »

Goofs

Right after Old Mrs. Forrest complains about her son having been "stabbed in the back", she is shown with her hand at chest level. Immediately afterward, there is a cut to a wider shot, and her hand is down by her waist. See more »

Quotes

Doctor Fielding: Hero fever, I call it. Very modern. Ever since we've been getting out of touch with God, we've been pushovers for it. And the young get it the worst of all.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Marcia Funebre
(uncredited)
from "Symphony No.3 in E Flat Major "Eroica", Op.55" (1806)
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
played as background music during the funeral
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A great character study cloaked in mystery
5 April 2006 | by jeromec-2See all my reviews

I'm sure anyone seeing this film will wonder just what is happening. This great cast made a very serious movie and were lines they could deliver powerfully dramatically and evenly to convey a whole range of emotions.

The plot is easily summarized. A reporter, O'Malley (Spencer Tracy) wants to write -- what? he's not certain -- a piece on an icon who people revere in the same way they might (say) Washington or Lincoln, The first part of the film is documents how to get to see the icon's wife. She's reclusive and her servants are dedicated to preserving her sanctity. What's behind this isolation? That in itself is a bothersome question for O'Malley. Something is not ringing right. She was the wife of a popular public figure. Why wouldn't she cooperate? As he digs, he finds he cannot write the story, at first because he does not know enough, and then because he knows too much of the wrong thing and finally because he suspects he does not know what is hidden from him and it is critical.

And as he untwists the Gordian knot that is presented to him, he finds there is duplicity and mendacity on every level. But nothing is as simple as it seems. Instead of writing about the icon, he picks the wife.

But that is not the depth of the film. The depth is revealed as we learn about the Hepburn character and Tracy's response. He moves from someone who can ignore genuine interest in him by a woman, (Audrey Christie), and seek his goal. What develops is first a genuine friendship followed by an admiration that transcends almost any other kind of relationship.

That is a very complicated situation to convey in the simple straight forward acting method of Tracy's (but he always manages to do what is required of him), and mysterious sophisticated quality that Hepburn always wears like some garment only given once by the gods who give such gifts.

This is not an easy exercise. Don't get caught in the datedness. Watch how the actors, directors and writers put together something that is admirable in its mixture of simplicity and complexity -- what others have called pealing the onionskin off the inion.


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