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Child of Divorce (1946)

Passed | | Drama | 15 October 1946 (USA)
An eight-year-old girl is an unwilling and disturbed witness of parental quarrels in her home, and when the parents finally secure a divorce, the judge decrees that the young girl live with... See full summary »

Director:

Richard Fleischer (as Richard O. Fleischer)

Writers:

Leopold Atlas (based on the play "Wednesday's Child" by) (as Leopold L. Atlas), Lillie Hayward (written for the screen by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sharyn Moffett ... Roberta 'Bobby' Carter
Regis Toomey ... Ray Carter
Madge Meredith ... Joan Carter Benton
Walter Reed ... Michael Benton
Una O'Connor ... Nora, the Maid
Doris Merrick ... Louise Norman
Harry Cheshire ... Judge
Selmer Jackson ... Dr. Sterling
Lillian Randolph ... Carrie, the Maid
Patricia Prest Patricia Prest ... Linda (as Pat Prest)
Gregory Marshall Gregory Marshall ... Freddie (as Gregory Muradian)
George McDonald George McDonald ... Donnie
Patsy Converse Patsy Converse ... Betty
Ann Carter ... Peggy Allen
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Storyline

An eight-year-old girl is an unwilling and disturbed witness of parental quarrels in her home, and when the parents finally secure a divorce, the judge decrees that the young girl live with her mother for eight months and her father the other four months. The divided life affects her both mentally and physically. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 October 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hija del divorcio See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Connections

Version of Wednesday's Child (1934) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Period of Adjustment
28 November 2002 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

CHILD OF DIVORCE (RKO Radio, 1946), directed by Richard Fleischer, in his directorial debut, is a well made and heartfelt drama dealing with a touchy subject about a sensitive little eight-year-old girl who has trouble adjusting to her parents' divorce. Themes such as this have been done before. OUR LITTLE GIRL (Fox, 1935), starring Shirley Temple comes to mind. However, CHILD OF DIVORCE is actually a remake to an earlier RKO Radio drama, WEDNESDAY'S CHILD (1934) starring Karen Morley and Edward Arnold as the parents, with young Frankie Thomas playing the pre-teen son whose life changes dramatically due to his parents' divorce. Then there is a more modern version in child of divorce theme titled KRAMER VS. KRAMER (1979), starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, which earned an Academy Award as the year's Best Picture, becoming a contemporary movie classic. While both earlier films mentioned have positive conclusions, CHILD OF DIVORCE comes off as the most realistic of the two.

The storyline begins on a happy note in which Roberta Carter, better known as "Bobby" (Sharyn Moffett), bids goodbye to her father, Ray (Regis Toomey), before leaving on another four week business trip. All goes well between between mother (Madge Meredith) and daughter until Bobby, along with and the other children, stumble upon a couple kissing in the park at a distance. Much to Bobby's surprise the woman happens to be her mother. Because the kids know that the man, later revealed as Michael Benton (Walter Reed), not be her father, Bobby gets teased about it. When Bobby's father returns home a little earlier than expected, Joan, of course is surprised. She makes every attempt to phone Michael canceling their secret meeting without being overheard by Ray on the extension. Joan soon takes notice , that Bobby is becoming distant towards her. Suspecting his wife's infidelity, the couple come to harsh words climaxed by facial slaps, as witnessed by Bobby. Joan leaves the house, going to Michael, never to return. After the divorce is finalized, the judge (Harry Cheshire) grants Joan full custody of her daughter, with Bobby to spend the other time with her father from June until September. While staying with her mother, who's now married to Michael, Bobby is miserable and resentful, longing for her father. When summer finally arrives, Bobby moves in with her father for the next few months, only to find he has a new girlfriend, Louise Norman (Doris Merrick), whom he intends to marry. Because both parents will be unable to spend quality time with their daughter, with Ray resuming his long term business trips, it is suggested by Doctor Sterling (Selmer Jackson) that the only logical choice for the depressed child is having her placed in a boarding school. While there, Bobby becomes more depressed when the only time she'll get to see her parents, individually, never together, would be on visitor's day.

After stumbling upon this rarely shown presentation of CHILD OF DIVORCE November 22, 2002, on Turner Classic Movies, the thing that immediately came to mind was, "Where has this movie been?" I have never seen this one before in all my years watching movies on television. Yet never missing out on an old movie, whether being famous or obscure, this one certainly escaped me. No doubt its lack of marquee names is the sole reason for program directors not showing this one. Even movies without star names are good, even better, for that unknowns usually come across as real people than actors. Thank goodness for TCM for showing this because, after viewing CHILD OF DIVORCE, I couldn't get it out of my mind. For being a modest budget 62 minute programmer, it does include a realistic message, the message being on how important it is for a child to have a happy home-life under the love and care of both parents, and that divorce among parents, through no fault of their own, ruins the life or lives of children.

Sharyn Moffatt, a modest little actress who had a brief career for RKO Radio in the 1940s, is excellent, giving a right-on-target performance. Her acting is so real that it's like watching an actual child going through the trauma of shifting from one home to another following the divorce of her parents. Her co-stars, not household names then and now, do commendable jobs as well. Regis Toomey, a veteran movie actor since 1929, is a familiar face, while Madge Meredith, with her Joan Fontaine-ish face, is virtually unknown. Then there's Una O'Connor, a regular featured performer seen in several Sharyn Moffett films during that period, once more giving her all as Nora, the Carter housekeeper. And let's not forget Ann Carter, the little girl who will be immortalized with her sensitive performance in Val Lewton's THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE (RKO, 1944), playing Peggy, Bobby's boarding school roommate, who can's stand the sound of the chimes ringing out musically "Home Sweet Home". Billed last in the closing casting credits, her role, which comes during the final ten minutes, is quite memorable and important, particularly when she tells Bobby the harsh realities of being a child of divorce.

In spite of the movie having such 1940s catch phrases as "That's keen," for example, CHILD OF DIVORCE comes off as one being timely and realistically done. It should be seen and studied not only for its good story and fine direction, but also for the moral message it delivers and the outlook of divorce taken from a child's perspective, more so with divorce now being at a higher rate than it was back in 1946. (**1/2)


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