Five children in an apparently ideal American small town find their lives changing as the years pass near the turn of the century in 1900. Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) and Drake McHugh (Ronald Reagan), both of whom have lost their parents, are best friends; Parris dreams of becoming a doctor, studying under the father of his sweetheart Cassandra Tower (Betty Field), while Drake plans on becoming a local businessman when he receives his full inheritance - juggling girlfriends in the meantime. As they become adults, the revelations of local secrets threaten to ruin their hopes and dreams.Written by
Twentieth Century Fox attempted to buy the book's rights to turn it into a vehicle for Henry Fonda. See more »
When Parris is speaking to his instructor in Vienna, Dr. Kendell strikes a match to light his pipe. In the next shot, the match has disappeared and there is no evidence that he lit the pipe. See more »
Dr. Alexander Q. Tower:
Well, Mitchell, I don't know at all your approach to medicine. Perhaps you regard it as an opportunity to become one of those bedside manners with a list of proper pills to give the patient - particularly when you don't know what is the matter with him. Or perhaps your aim is to become an eminent carpenter with a knife and a chisel and a saw. Perhaps even you'll flow over with the nobility of relieving humanity's suffering. I'll tell you my approach to medicine! It is a game in which man pits ...
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Also shown in computer colorized version. See more »
Many people have already written reviews of this notable film, so I'll skip the plot summary. Most of the reviews are extremely positive. I'm afraid I can't be as laudatory, though I did enjoy the movie and it prompted me to write this.
There are some really fine acting performances. Unlike some, I like Robert Cummings. Yes, he is a bit "one note" as someone wrote, but I think that makes sense. Cummings has accurately portrayed a believable personality. Yes, I agree that Ronald Reagan was excellent. He almost becomes the lead role, and that's part of the problem with this movie. Ann Sheridan I would just say was good, not excellent. She does not deserve to have top billing in this movie. Maybe she was the best known star of the three main actors at that time, and she was given top billing for that reason. Betty Field as Cassandra was good, but overacted a bit in a difficult role. Claude Rains was excellent, as usual.
Two other actors deserve mention, even though they had lesser roles. I thought that the actress who played Louise (Nancy Coleman) was very convincing. And I thought the performance of Henry Davenport as Skeffington was remarkable. He really seemed to be a completely authentic lawyer from the 1890s. It's hard to believe that that was someone acting.
The basic situation and plot were intriguing. Sounds like the novel would be a good read. But the movie disappoints in several ways.
First, it is disjointed. Too many scenes happen quickly or end abruptly. For example, there is a scene about half way through where Parris and Duke are reading a journal of Dr. Tower, soon after someone important dies (don't want to get too specific here). Suddenly Parris says, "but I'm tired." Duke immediately jumps up and says "I'll get the light." He blows it out and they leave. That's just unreal. It's too abrupt. It's jarring. This sort of thing happens again and again.
Second, a major love interest of one of the main characters is introduced with only about 20 minutes to go. That is very awkward and off-putting. A veritable Deus ex machina.
Third, the movie builds up a major romance and conflict between Parris and Cassandra, only to have it suddenly resolved barely half way into the movie (again, don't want to get too specific). Really, the movie should have ended there. It's as if it were really two movies, parts I and II. It would have been better as two.
Fourth, the character of Randy, played by Ann Sheridan, is very briefly in the beginning of the movie as a child, then abruptly (there's that word again) reappears about half way through the movie and becomes a major character.
Fifth, comparatively minor but still jarring, the actresses playing Cassandra (Field) and Randy (Sheridan) looked amazingly alike. Maybe it would not have been so in color, but in black and white, I was astonished when Sheridan abruptly appeared in the middle of the movie and seemed to be Cassandra! Was this planned by the director?
So I appreciate the basic story. It's very creative. I appreciate the fine acting. But with so many flaws, I can rate it no higher than 7.
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