Irish colleen Nellie is in love with handsome Jerry Kelly, even though her father objects. Nellie and Jerry soon marry and announce plans to move to New York, which again angers Nellie's ... See full summary »
Movie developed into the Broadway musical production "The Human Comedy" opened at the Royale Theater in New York on April 5, 1984 and ran for 13 performances. See more »
Near the end of the film when Homer and his friends walk to the telegraph office Homer's tie is tied up short (the tail below the broad part of the tie) but when Homer enters the office and in the following scenes, the tie is tied correctly. See more »
What are you boys looking for?
What books are you looking for?
All of them.
What do you want with them?
We wanna look at em.
Books are for reading.
Can't I just Look at em?
That's not what the public library is for boy, but you can look into them and look at the pictures in them. What do you want the outsides for?
I like to. can't i?
[...] See more »
Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »
While the years may not have been entirely kind to "The Human Comedy," they have certainly been kinder than some of the comments I've seen here, the venom and churlish malice of which frankly astonish me.
In 1943, M-G-M commissioned author William Saroyan to develop a screen story about the World War II homefront. The result was this, which Howard Estabrook turned into a screenplay and Saroyan himself expanded into a novel -- which explains why the film was released before the book was published.
Yes, "The Human Comedy" is propaganda, but with a difference. Most of the propaganda of WWII arose from anger and grim determination, and films like "Air Force" and "Operation Tokyo" look excessive and embarrassing now that passions have cooled. The propaganda of "The Human Comedy" rises not from anger but from fear -- the fear that the crucible of war might be too harsh for the spirit of small-town America to survive.
To be honest, much of "The Human Comedy" also looks excessive and embarrassing now the fears have been alleviated. But few films struck such a chord in audiences of the time by showing them, if not as they were, then at least as they liked to picture themselves.
The film's appeal now is more than just as a historical curiosity, however. Despite the Andy Hardy sentimentality and Saroyan's blue-collar pseudo-poetry, "The Human Comedy" has much to recommend it if you can resist viewing it through the prism of our own time, with the war safely won these 50 years. It has, for example, one of Mickey Rooney's best and most restrained performances and a charming performance by Jackie "Butch" Jenkins as his baby brother -- he became a child star on the strength of this film, but was never this good again.
Frank Morgan, too, is first-rate as a sad old man taking pride in his work and refuge in his bottle; Morgan was an idiosyncratic actor, but he was capable of great depth and deserves to be known for something besides "The Wizard of Oz." Director Clarence Brown, now sadly neglected, shows once again his sure touch with Americana and his sensitive handling of child and teen actors.
"The Human Comedy" is a bit cloying, perhaps, but it's also a compassionate and generous-spirited film. It deserves to be regarded with the same generosity.
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