Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Edward G. Robinson and Burt Lancaster star in "All My Sons"

All My Sons (1948) is based on the play by Arthur Miller which ran on Broadway from January 29, 1947, closed on November 8, 1949, and ran for 328 performances. The film was directed by Irving Reis and starred Edward G. Robinson and Burt Lancaster. Other members of the cast include Louisa Horton, Mady Christians, Howard Duff, Arlene Francis, and Harry Morgan.

Joe Keller has built a manufacturing business that he hopes his son, Chris (Lancaster), will one day take over. But Chris has other plans. He wants to marry Ann Deever (Horton), who was once engaged to his brother, Larry, who was missing in action during World War II and presumed dead. Kate Keller refuses to believe her son is dead and has his room exactly as he left it, even going so far as to polish his shoes on a regular basis.

Ann's father and Joe Keller were partners in a plant that manufactured airplane parts for the military. An investigation determined that the company sold the government defective equipment. It was determined that the partners sold the parts knowing they were defective. Ann's father was convicted and sent to prison but Joe was exonerated. However, there has always been some doubt as to whether or not Joe was also responsible for the faulty airplane parts. This doubt hangs heavy over the Keller home and endangers Chris's relationship with Ann and his father.

When all the secrets are revealed, will the Keller family survive?

Irving Reis (1906 - 1953) was an American writer, producer, and director of both radio plays and motion pictures. Reis got his start as a photographer, eventually photographing publicity stills for various movie studios. He went to Hollywood and became a screenwriter at Paramount in 1938. From Paramount, he went to RKO where he directed the box office hit The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Shirley Temple. Other films he directed include Enchantment  (1948), and The Four Poster (1952). Reis's died of cancer at the age of 47; he left a widow and three children.

Edward G. Robinson (1893 – 1973) was an American actor on the stage and screen. Robinson is a true legend from Hollywood’s Golden Age where he starred in the gangster classic Little Caesar (1931), Kid Galahad (1937), Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), The Sea Wolf (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), and Key Largo (1948). Robinson was awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 1973, but he was never nominated for a competitive Oscar.

Burt Lancaster (1913- 1994) was an American actor and producer. He won a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in Elmer Gantry (1960). Lancaster made his film debut in The Killers (1946). After the release of that film, he was on his way as a leading man, starring in quick succession Desert Fury (1947), Brute Force (1947), Variety Girl (1947), I Walk Alone (1947), All My Sons (1948), and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). Other popular films starring Lancaster include The Flame and the Arrow (1950), Jim Thorpe All-American (1951), From Here to Eternity (1953), The Rose Tattoo (1955), and Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).

Lousia Horton and Burt Lancaster

Why watch this film?

  • It's a good film version of Arthur Miller's award-winning play.
  • Edward G. Robinson delivers a great performance.
  • Burt Lancaster put off making another film he was committed to because he wanted the role of Chris Keller.
  • This was the film debut of Louisa Horton (Ann) who was married to director George Roy Hill (The Sting).
  • The opportunity to see Arlene Francis early in her career and two years before she would become an icon on the television game show What's My Line.

To watch the film on YouTube, click on the link below.

Discussion questions:

  1. Some critics have considered this movie a film noir. What category of film would you classify it as?
  2. What did you think of Edward G. Robinson's performance in this film compared with his performance in The Red House?
  3. Burt Lancaster really wanted to play Chris Keller; what did you make of his performance?
  4. What did you think of the supporting cast? Any standouts?
  5. Did this film have a theme? If so, what is it?

To join the discussion on February 7, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation with a Zoom link to the discussion online.

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