Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Green Years (1946)


Charles Coburn - GreatGrandpa Alexander "Dandy" Gow
Tom Drake - Robert Shannon
Beverly Tyler - Alison Keith
Hume Cronyn - (Grand )Papa Leckie
Gladys Cooper - Grandma Leckie
Dean Stockwell - Robert Shannon, 8 years
Jessica Tandy - Kate Leckie
Selena Royle - Mama Leckie
Richard Haydn - Jason Reid
Andy Clyde - Saddler Boag
Norman Lloyd - Adam Leckie
Robert North - Murdoch Leckie
Wallace Ford - Jamie Nigg
Eilene Janssen - Alison Keith as a Child
Hank Daniels - Gavin Blair
Richard Lyon - Gavin Blair as a Child
Henry O'Neill - Canon Roche
Henry Stephenson - Professor Blakely


Victor Saville - Director
Leon Gordon - Producer
Archibald J. Cronin - Book Author
Arnold A. Gillespie - Special Effects
Cedric Gibbons - Art Director
Donald Jahraus - Special Effects
George Folsey - Cinematographer
Hans Peters - Art Director
Herbert Stothart - Composer (Music Score)
Irene Sharaff - Costume Designer
Robert Ardrey - Screenwriter
Robert J. Kern - Editor
Sonya Levien - Screenwriter


This novel was adapted by "The Green Years" by A.J. Cronin. The book in many ways is autobiographical.   A.J. Cronin was Scottish and raised by relatives in a mining town.  He became a doctor.

The film starts by showing that  young Robert Shannon (Dean Stockwell) is orphaned he leaves his home in Ireland and travels to Langford, Scotland, home of his Presbyterian maternal Gandparents (the Leckies).  Although Robert is Catholic his Presbyterian family tolerates his religous difference. Growing up in the home of his penny-pinching (Grand) Papa Leckie (Hume Cronyn) is made bearable by his doting but irresponsible great-grandfather Gow(Charles Coburn).   Rounding out the cast are Great Grandmother Leckie (Dame Gladys Cooper), loving grandmother Leckie (Selena Royle),and kind aunt Kate(Jessica Tandy). Robert is  leary of his  money hungry uncle Adam(Norman Lloyd) that lives in London.Adam is a always looking to make money at the expense of others.

At the center of this movie is Robert and GreatGrandpa's relationship. Robert is drawn out of his shell by GreatGrandpa. On several occassions Great Grandpa saves the day for young Robert by paying for a new communion suit and teaching him to fight when classmates tease him about a suit that his Great Grandmother made for him. Great Grandpa is the only one that is supportive of Robert's Catholic faith. He is the only member of the family to attend Robert's first communion.

 At his school,  Robbie adjusts and is befriended by Gavin and Allison, whom he grows to love as the years pass. As he matures into a young man (Tom Drake)Robbie’s dreams turn to medicine and becoming a doctor. His studies are  guided by  Prof. Rattray Blakely (Henry Stephenson), who recognizes Roberts scholastic talents.  Supported by everyone in the family except his Grandfather Leckie, he studies for a scholarship as a way to escape life toiling in the local boiler-works. Grand Papa Leckie does not want Robert to go to college and is really jealous of Robert's intellegance. An Attack of the flu causes Robert to miss one part of his Scholarship exams and he fail to obtain the scholarship. When GreatGranpa Gow dies, the Leckies are surprised when a recently added codicil to GreatGandpa Gow's will is discovered, in which it is stipulated that all of his life insurance money is to be used to pay for Robert's university education. Grand Papa Leckie does not want Robert to go to college and is really jealous of Robert's intellegance. He wants Robert to give him the money since he has "allowed" Robert to stay with the family for over ten years. The rest of the family forces Grandpa Leckie to change his mind and allow Robert to attend college.   With his tuition paid, the promising young scientist attends his first day at the university with his former schoolmate and sweetheart, Alison Keith, at his side.


There is an unusual pairing of married actors Hume Cronyn (age 35) and Jessica Tandy (age 37), here playing father and daughter. Jessica also happened to be pregnant with their first child.


Nominated Best Cinaematography-George Folsey

Nominated Best Supporting Actor-Charles Coburn 

Review and Final Thoughts:

The Green Years is an unexpected gem of a film.  For some odd reason, I did not think that I would like it. The mostly American cast pull off thick Scots and Irish brogues without loosing them.

This drama refects Scotch characteristics from the thrifty Papa Leckie to the drinking Dandy. Religious differences are tolerated, and education is valued as the key to a better future.

There is alot of drama to keep you interested. Dame Gladys Cooper is great as GreatGrandma Leckie. The constant bickering between GreatGrandpa Gow and GreatGrandma Leckie add comic relief when needed. Also, Dean Stockwell is so cute as Robert, it is hard to keep your eyes off of him.

1 comment:

  1. I love this film - Gladys Cooper and Charles Coburn steal the show with their squabbling and possessiveness! A funny, heartwarming, and rewarding film - they simply do not make movies like this any more...


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