EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|HUMAN COMEDY, THE (director: Clarence Brown; screenwriters: from the story by William Saroyan/Howard Estabrook; cinematographer: Harry Stradling; editor: Conrad Nervig; music: Herbert Stothart; cast: Mickey Rooney (Homer Macauley), Frank Morgan (Willie Grogan), James Craig (Tom Spangler), Marsha Hunt (Diana Steed), Fay Bainter (Mrs. Macauley), Ray Collins (Mr. Macauley), Van Johnson (Marcus Macauley), Donna Reed (Bess Macauley), Jackie "Butch" Jenkins (Ulysses Macauley), Barry Nelson (Pat), Robert Mitchum (Horse), Mary Nash (Miss Hicks), Dorothy Morris (Mary Arena), David Holt (Hubert Ackley III), Rita Quigley (Helen Elliot); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Clarence Brown; MGM; 1943)|
in cornball melodrama, but does it well."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Outdoes Capra in cornball melodrama, but does it
has one of Mickey Rooney's best sensitive
Clarence Brown ("Anna Karenina"/"Idiot's Delight"/
mood right of small town America during World
and keeps it from becoming bloated with
sentimentality (though it's
unquestionably sugary). The Human Comedy is based on
a story by populist
Saroyan and written by Howard Estabrook. Saroyan
wanted to direct and
write the screenplay, but the studio rebuffed him and
he thereby made
his short story into a novel--which
published when the film opened. Whether its
America is true or not, it nevertheless reminds
Americans of an
innocent time when they believed they were
warm-hearted decent people
who cared about their country, community and others.
It depicted in
certain terms a morally correct country where one
could advance by
getting a good public education and the people in the
country felt they
leave their house doors unlocked. It's an America that
longer exists, which makes this film relic a memorable
at a typical patriotic American family that we all can
being nice in a way Americans like to think of
The pic made a big profit and brought Saroyan an Oscar for his only film assignment.
small town of Ithaca, California, feisty high school
Rooney) works the night-shift as a
telegraph messenger to support his widowed mother
Bainter) while big brother Marcus
(Van Johnson) is in the army during the war. Also at
home is college
age sis Bess (Donna Reed) and the always questioning
spirited six-year-old Ulysses (Jackie "Butch"
sweet college student girlfriend Mary (Dorothy Morris)
is the family's
next-door neighbor. Homer's dad (Ray Collins) died two
years ago and
peeks down on the family from heaven and offers in a
monologue approval of his family's wholesomeness.
Homer's young boss Tom
Craig) is the best boss one can have, while the
Grogan (Frank Morgan) forms a strong relationship with
the kid he takes
a shine to. Willie
the company heads want to force his retirement due to
age, and asks
Homer to wake
him with a splash of water to the face if he's too
drunk to answer an
incoming telegram. Homer's problems revolve around a
track hurdle race
he hopes to win and if he can lure away his pretty
(Rita Quigley) from his rich boy rival
Hubert Ackley III (David Holt ). In one instance, Homer
must sing a 'Happy Birthday' telegram to Helen from
Hubert, which gets
us prepared for the sad last telegram received by
Homer that the pic
tragically closes on.
It's an earnest family
film gooey to a fault, but preserves enough dignity
before it signs off
to the author's pretentiousness.
REVIEWED ON 5/12/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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