Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


MY SON JOHN (1952). Director: Leo McCarey.

Lucille and Dan Jefferson (Helen Hayes and Dean Jagger) have three sons, two of whom are football-playing joes who've enlisted in the Army, and the third of which is -- gasp! -- apparently a communist. This dated movie doesn't look at the issue with any particular objectivity, but it's the detailing of the emotions of the characters and the emoting of the actors that gives the film what little power it possesses. Despite the good performance of Robert Walker, John never really comes to life as a real person. He simply seems like a sophisticate whose relatives are well-meaning, perfectly pleasant bohunks. Jagger and Hayes, especially Hayes, are excellent, although Lucille does seem slightly demented at times. Van Heflin is solid as an FBI agent who's investigating John. Whatever its intentions, this can hardly be considered a serious look at either the communist threat or the threat to freedom posed by men like Joe McCarthy.

Verdict: Lots of talk but well-acted. **.

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