The story begins when, Death, who comes in the form of Mr. Brink, hitches a ride with Dr. James Northrup and his wife, causing a tragic car accident. They leave behind a young son Pud in the care of his grandparents, Julian Northrup and Nellie. Pud's aunt, Demetria Riffle, an old maid, pretends to care about the boy, but really only wants his inheritance. Gramps, knows exactly what she is up to.
Dr. Evans, soon believes that Death is trapped up in the apple tree, when several of his cases of certain death do not happen. Evans tries to disprove Gramps's story, but nothing dies, except a mouse that touches the apple tree. Evans begs Gramps to let Brink down. Saying that a world without death would cause people with incurable diseases, to suffer. Gramps, thinks about his own old age, but still cannot let Brink out of the apple tree.
The next day, Evans comes with papers to commit Gramps and turn Pud over to Demetria, convincing Gramps to let Brink out of the tree. After he breaks the news to Pud about his decision to go with Brink, Pud cries that saying he wants to go with Mr. Brink, too. Heartbroken, when Gramps tells him he can't come, Pud runs away. Gramps, pretends that Mr. Brink has said that Demetria and the sheriff are due to die soon. Marcia Giles, Gramps's housekeeper, also pretends that she heard it too, frightening Demetria and the sheriff into leaving. While Marcia and Gramps are looking for Pud. Mr. Brink calls him a "baby calf." Pud trying to climb the tree falls to the ground and is paralyzed. Will Gramps now call Mr. Brink from the tree?
She next performed in, Maxwell Anderson's "Saturday's Children" in 1926. It was Bondi's performance in Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Street Scene," which opened at the Playhouse Theatre on January 10, 1929, that brought Bondi to the movies at the age of 43.
Her debut movie role was as "Emma Jones" in Elmer Rice's Street Scene (1931), which starred Sylvia Sidney, and in which Bondi reprised her stage role, followed by "Mrs. Davidson" in Rain (1932), which starred Joan Crawford and Walter Huston.
She was one of the first five women to be nominated for an Academy Award in the newly-created category of "Best Supporting Actress" for her work in The Gorgeous Hussy, although she lost the award to Gale Sondergaard.
Two years later, she was nominated again for Of Human Hearts, and lost again, but her reputation as a character actress kept her working. She would most often be seen in the role of the mother of the star of the film for the rest of her career, with the exception of Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) as the abandoned Depression-era 'Ma' Cooper.
She often played mature roles in her early film career even though she was only in her early 40's. Bondi played James Stewart’s mother in four films: It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Of Human Hearts and Vivacious Lady.