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A conservative southern patriarch tries to cope with changing times.
In 1913, district attorney Robert "Cap'n Bob" Yancey, the patriarch of a large, eccentric Lynchburg, Virginia family, has definite ideas about what his independently-spirited children should be. While teenager Rebecca wants to be an writer, Bob wants her to be an artist, and while his eldest daughter Margaret wants to be a lawyer, Bob wants her to be a singer. Bob plans to run for his seventh term as district attorney, but his loving wife Rosa prefers that he does not. One day, when he hears from his trusted old friend and family servant, Uncle Josh Preston, that Jefferson Brown, a black man and the son of Aunt Mandy Brown, who had worked for Bob's father, is about to go on trial for murder. Joshua is incensed, and convinced that Jefferson "has no murder in his heart." Bob respects Uncle Joshua's feeling, but as the district attorney he must prosecute. When Aunt Mandy comes to see Bob and says that Jefferson struck the dead man in anger because he had been with his wife, Bob assures her that her son will get a fair trial and promises to find a good lawyer. Bob is so impressed by young criminal attorney Jim Shirley, a new tenant in his building, that he asks him to defend Jefferson. As he soon learns, Jim is the son of Marcia Marshall, a childhood friend of Bob's. Meanwhile, Margaret's beau, Jack Holden, who is about to become a Stanley Steamer salesman, proposes, but Margaret turns him down, still determined to be a lawyer. That evening, Bob brings Jim home for dinner, and although the children are rambunctious and everything seems to go wrong, Jim feels comfortable with the family and develops a crush on Margaret. Some time later, when Jefferson's trial begins, Bob mops up spilled ink with his handkerchief and a few moments later wipes his face, using the same cloth. Seeing Bob's black, ink-stained face, the entire courtroom erupts in laughter, except for Jim and the presiding judge, Fred Stuart, who are angry and accuse Bob of doing the stunt on purpose. When Bob refuses to apologize, the judge jails him for contempt of court. That night, while Bob is in jail, Jim and Margaret argue over the issue and Jim leaves. When Bob is released, he learns that Jefferson has been convicted, but only of manslaughter, which resulted in a five-year sentence. Bob then happily reveals that he intended to disrupt the court because he knew that Jefferson was facing a "hanging" jury and the stunt would soften them. Soon Becky, who stood up for Jim in his argument with Margaret, gets flowers from him, and Rosa wants the family to take its vacation at their plantation outside of Lynchburg. During a political meeting, Bob later learns that his chief rival, Rogard, openly opposes Prohibition but is secretly stockpiling liquor for the time when the county "goes dry." Bob, who truly is against Prohibition, thinks that a man like Rogard should not be in office and decides to run for an eighth term, against Rosa's wishes. She forgives him for breaking his promise, but is very worried that he is tempting fate and will be defeated. That same day, Uncle Joshua saves little Caroline Yancey's life when a bull attacks the younger children while they are foolishly playing in the pasture. When it looks as though Joshua is going to have a heart attack, Bob starts to take a stick to the children, but Joshua recovers. The next day, Jack arrives at the plantation and tells Margaret that he does not mind if she becomes a lawyer and still wants to marry her. When the rest of the family goes with Jack in his car, Bob stays behind and discovers Joshua dead. A few days later, he eulogizes his old friend in the black church, saying that God may have allowed Joshua to stay on earth so long because he was needed to save Caroline's life. Some time later, Jack and Margaret are about to marry and a now more mature Becky and Jim become interested in each other. Marcia, who returns to town as a celebrity because she is traveling the country championing women's suffrage, tells Rosa how jealous she has always been of her, and Rosa softens toward her, even though a photograph of the two women appears in the newspaper and implies that Rosa, too, is a suffragette. After several more elections, in 1929, Bob is running for his eleventh term and Rosa is so worried that a defeat might devastate him that she writes all of their now-grown children to return home for a visit. Despite his popularity, Bob loses the election. The next day, the entire family, including Margaret, Jack and their family and Jim, Becky and her family, expects Bob to be depressed, but he is very cheerful because of his family and friends, and on his way to the office, he is touched when his supporters serenade him with "Auld Lang Syne."
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||World premiere in Lynchburg, VA: 23 Jan 1942|
|Release Date:||1942||Production Date:||
A Frank Borzage Production
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Loew's Inc.|
|Sound:||Production Co:||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.|
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kevin sellers 2015-01-19
Kind of an uneasy combination of Father Knows Best and The Sun Shines Bright. If you like sentimental movies (I don't) then you'll be as happy as...
Warm, Fuzzy, and Delightful
I admit to watching this movie because it co-starred (on the billing) Kathryn Grayson. When she sang, it was with the voice of an angel, but her singing...
The South we like to remember
I grew up in Lynchburg in the '50's but never saw this movie until I was grown and had lived many other places. I absolutely believe that the...