All My Sons


Drama / Film-Noir

Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 82%
IMDb Rating 7.4 10 1891

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Herb Vigran as Wertheimer
Arlene Francis as Sue Bayliss
Edward G. Robinson as Joe Keller
Harry Morgan as Frank Lubey

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bkoganbing 8 / 10

Keller family values

All My Sons was Arthur Miller's second produced play and first commercial success winning Tony Awards for Best play, a Tony for stage director Elia Kazan and a run of 347 performances for the year of 1947. But when the film version was made the following year the House Un- American Activities Committee was taking a long hard look at All My Sons and all who were associated with it.

Universal Studios which produced the film version did more than just expand a play that had a one set setting on stage, that set being the backyard of the Keller family. A whole lot of references to the capitalist system built on greed and the notion of anything for a profit were carefully eliminated. Miller's protagonist Joe Keller becomes a monstrous aberation as opposed to a symbol. That being said the adaption by Chester Erskine is still a fine drama with the polemics trimmed.

Taking over from Ed Begley who did the role on stage is Edward G. Robinson as Joe Keller the owner of a factory which had shipped some bad engine parts for airplanes and caused the crash of several of them. Robinson managed to skate responsibility and the blame fell on his partner Frank Conroy who is now in prison. Incidentally one of the changes is that on stage Conroy's character is never seen only talked about. Here Burt Lancaster as Robinson's surviving son has a new scene with Conroy visiting him in prison to learn the truth about his father as doubts of his innocence have crept into his mind.

The House UnAmerican Activities Committee was all over this work in their glory days of 1948. Arthur Miller was blacklisted, so was Mady Christians who played Mrs. Keller. Elia Kazan as we know turned friendly witness for the hounds of HUAC and Edward G. Robinson in the Fifties was what was termed 'gray listed'. Not forbidden to work per se, but studios were not giving A budget work any more and wouldn't until Cecil B. DeMille hired him for The Ten Commandments.

In the end Robinson has to take responsibility for what he did and he does it in the most dramatic way possible. Aficionados of Arthur Miller's work will note the similarities between the Keller and the Loman families in Miller's next production Death Of A Salesman.

Possibly one day we'll get another film version that is more true to what Arthur Miller had in mind. This will due until that happens.

Reviewed by mark.waltz 9 / 10

Talk about being grabbed around the family tree!

Having seen a ton of the classic American theater, I regret not having seen this live. Like "Death of a Salesman" and "A Long Day's Journey Into Night", every time this has been revived, it was the hottest non- musical ticket on Broadway. It also took a long time for me to get to this movie version, quite edited, but devastating and engrossing none the less.

Post war America was in turmoil in more ways than just the hardships of returning soldiers. A cynical world dealt with political and social upheavals, and this powerful drama shows it through the family angle in ways that are sometimes painful to face in the way it relates to real life.

Powerful munitions plant owner Edward G. Robinson has grown in success while his former partner (Frank Conroy) has gone to prison for allegedly selling the government detective airplane parts. Rather than feel any sort of guilt, Robinson has been hiding something in regards to his part in it, having been on trial and briefly imprisoned, but acquitted for any wrong doing. The whole town seems to believe he was as guilty (or more), but stands around and says nothing-for the most part.

His wife, Mady Christians, delusionally believes that a son who went off to war wasn't killed as rumored; Son Burt Lancaster is now engaged to his brother's girl, and Conroy's son (Howard Duff) has come back to settle the score.

What starts off as lighthearted family fare quickly turns serious as all of these secrets and more come out. Little bits by the neighbors are surprisingly fresh, real and still timely. Performances by Robinson, Christian and Lancaster are intense and filled with honest, raw emotions. This is great theater at its most consuming, although I would have loved to have seen a full version of the play with this glorious cast.

Reviewed by lee_eisenberg 10 / 10

remember this every time that someone complains about regulations

Irving Reis's "All My Sons" is based on one of Arthur Miller's lesser known plays, but I would call it just as important as "Death of a Salesman" or "The Crucible". Edward G. Robinson's businessman is the embodiment of evil. It's easy to see this as a one-time story, but it has repeatedly happened. From insufficiently armored Humvees in Iraq to peanut butter tainted with listeria (when the CEO knew that it was), these stories are a rebuttal to all who rail against regulations. Regulations exist to keep society safe: building codes, speed limits, etc. The idea that the market will solve everything results in the sale of dangerous products and the refusal to maintain infrastructure, leading to bridges collapsing. Does the relative of a celebrity have to get killed in a collapsing bridge before we fix our infrastructure?

Anyway, this is a good movie. Everyone should see it. No surprise that many of the performers faced HUAC.

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