Thursday, July 5, 2012
Of Human Hearts(1938).
Of Human Hearts(1938). Directed by Clarence Brown.Cast: Walter Huston, James Stewart and Beulah Bondi. Bondi was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
The story begins when Rev. Ethan Wilkins moves his family from a wealthy parish in Maryland to an impoverished village on the banks of the Ohio River. His wife Mary understands but their son Jason cannot adjust to their new life. He looks up to Dr. Charles Shingle, a alcoholic physician and resents it when Ethan refuses to let him accept the magazines that Shingle wants to give him. Mary, trying to keep peace in the family sells her silver spoons to buy Jason a subscription to Harper's Monthly, Ethan finds even that magazine inappropriate.
Ten years later, the now-grown Jason is still resentful of his father. Ethan, insists that his son join him on a backwoods tour of older parishioner's cabins, Jason refuses to wear a shabby second-hand coat that an elderly woman gives to him. Jason, who had enough of this lifestyle leaves home and goes to study medicine in Virginia.
Over the years, the broken-hearted Mary sells all of her family's treasures to send money to Jason, but she never complains, nor does Ethan, who is now very ill. Mary writes to her son that Ethan is dying, but by the time Jason returns home, his father has already died. Now, Mary must take in sewing to survive.
One Christmas, Jason writes to say that he is coming home, then sends another letter saying that he must stay in Virginia during the holidays and needs more money. Mary sells her gold wedding ring, to greedy general store-owner George Ames in order to send Jason the money. When Dr. Shingle finds out, he convinces Ames that he needs a "bleeding" and slips the ring off Ames' finger and gives it back to Mary.
As the Civil War marches on, Jason is called to duty and stops writing to his mother. He later receives a summons to the White House, where he meets President Abraham Lincoln, who tells Jason that his mother Mary, had written to him because she believes that he must be dead. Lincoln, makes him promise to write to his mother every week.
After, Jason returns to his post, he sees his old horse Pilgrim and finally realizes his mother must be very poor to have sold their beloved horse. When Jason saves the arm of his superior, Captain Griggs, his reward is a leave to see Mary. Jason then rides home on Pilgrim and is reunited with his mother.
This is a very emotional story about the relationship between father and son. A must see for John Huston and Jimmy Stewart fans, maybe one of Stewart's best performances.
She graduated from the Frances Shimer Academy (later Shimer College) in 1907, and gained her Bachelors and Masters degrees in oratory at Valparaiso University in 1916 and 1918.
She made her Broadway debut in Kenneth S. Webb's, "One of the Family" at the 49th Street Theatre on December 21, 1925.
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 advanced age of 43.
Her debut movie role was as "Emma Jones" in, 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 employed.
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.
Beulah Bondi portrayed James Stewart's mother five times: In It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Of Human Hearts and Vivacious Lady and once on his television series, The Jimmy Stewart Show.