Starring Margaret Mann, James Hall, Earl Foxe, and Francis X. Bushman Jr.
I'll be frank with you. I didn't want to go to see this picture. I fought against it. Another mother picture! I have nothing to say against mothers as a rule; and a whole lot to say for them. I have a pretty good one myself, and I know a lot of other folks who are proud of theirs. But I don't like to see them on the screen. They aren't Mothers; they're monstrosities in shawls and bonnets; they cry all the time. So I thought I wouldn't go to see "Four Sons." Then I thought, "Well, Jimmy Hall is in it; and the minute I think of Jimmy Hall I want to see him again to decide whether I like him or don't like him. Well, I went. And I wouldn't have missed it for anything, not just because it made up my mind for me about Jimmy Hall (the answer is: Yes, I do.), but it showed me a real Mother on the screen. Margaret Mann plays her, and she's more like a mother really is than I'd ever hoped to see in picture. She doesn't whine or weep. She makes cookies, and keeps the home-fires burning. Miss Mann and Director John Ford have given us a great performance, in a picture that is emotional without being mushy, and dramatic without turning morbid.
"Four Sons" is a war picture with only one war scene. What self-control this director must have! It's a great little plea for peace, for it takes us on the other side of the trenches and introduces us to the enemy -- three of whom are Mother Bernle's stalwart sons. The fourth, played by James Hall, is fighting with the Yanks. But they're all brothers. After the war, Mother Bernle leaves the old country for the new. She has to "learn her letters" first, and her struggles with a new tongue amid strange surroundings provide a comedy ending to the picture. Everybody in the cast is splendid, but Miss Mann and Mr. Hall are outstanding. It's Jimmy's first chance to act, and he will surprise you. I've never seen more exquisite photography. John Ford has done some beautiful things in his direction, too. I like the way he creates characters instead of depending upon "types." He offers his comic relief with a deftness that Shakespeare would have loved. And speaking of Shakespeare -- if his plays are ever, by accident, put on the screen, John Ford is just the director to do it, if he keeps up the high standard he sets in his "Four Sons."
Starring Margaret Mann, James Hall, Earle Foxe, and Francis X. Bushman, Jr.
MOTION PICTURE MAGAZINE
If you want something finely different in motion picture entertainment -- here it is. In the first place, the star is a sixty-year-old extra "girl," Margaret Mann by name. And during every one of those sixty years she has been waiting and preparing to play this role. Her portrayal is a revelation.
The scene is laid in a German countryside. Mother Bernle lives contentedly in a little world bounded on each of its four sides by one of her four sons. Into the serenely quiet order of her life come the echoing drums. And three of her four perish by the sword of the war god. The one who is left goes to America and Mother Bernle is left alone.
Bereaved and solitary, she accepts the chastening of Providence and waits -- and waits. But as dawn always follows the dark hour, the American sends for her.
For more information, see "Four Sons" as our "Feature of the Month"
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