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

Thursday, October 1, 2015


MY SON, MY SON (1940). Director: Charles Vidor.

"They say be good and you'll be happy, but I say be happy and you'll be good."

William Essex (Brian Aherne) was born poor but has become an established and successful author and playwright. His wife, Nellie (Josephine Hutchinson), is overly pious, while William is overly apologetic for the actions of his young son, Oliver (Scotty Beckett), who lies with abandon. One afternoon Essex is doing research for a play about miners, and is mistaken for one by an artist named Livia (Madeleine Carroll), who sketches him before realizing her mistake. The two are instantly attracted, but there's nothing to be done about it -- until later. Oliver grows up to become a spoiled, somewhat callous young man (Louis Hayward), whose actions greatly distress his father. But when Oliver is called to the trenches during WW 1, will the two men be able to reconcile their differences? My Son, My Son is a powerful, absorbing and very well-acted drama that culminates in a touching finale. Aherne is given a strong role and runs with it, on top of every scene. His love scene with Carroll [Don't Trust Your Husband] is beautifully played, and she gives a fine performance throughout. Hayward is excellent, and Beckett as the young Oliver is simply amazing. There are also very good performances from Henry Hull as William's old friend, Dermot; Laraine Day as Dermot's daughter, Maeve, who falls in love with William; and Hutchinson as William's first wife. A nice score by Edward Ward helps make this a compelling and classy picture. Hayward also played a bad boy in Vidor's Ladies in Retirement while Aherne and Day both appeared in The Locket.

Verdict: The kind of movie they truly don't make anymore. ****.

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