Cast & Crew
Edward G. Robinson
Soon after returning home from the war, Chris Keller confides in his father Joe that he intends to marry childhood friend Ann Deever and move to Chicago. Joe, the self-made head of a successful manufacturing firm, is hurt by this revelation, as he intended for Chris to eventually take over management of the factory. He is also concerned that Chris's mother Kate will take the news badly, as Ann was engaged to Chris's older brother Larry, who was declared missing during the war and is presumed dead, a fact Kate refuses to accept. When Ann arrives that afternoon from Chicago, several of the Kellers' neighbors inquire about her father Herbert, Joe's former business partner, who is in jail. During the war, Joe and Herb's factory shipped out defective airplane parts, which caused twenty-one Army planes to crash in the Pacific. Joe was acquitted, but Herb was found guilty of authorizing the shipment, knowing that the parts were defective. That evening, Joe takes the family to dinner to celebrate Ann's return, but their meal is interrupted by Mrs. Hamilton, a war widow, who drunkenly calls Joe a murderer. Back home, Joe berates Ann for moving away and not facing her father's guilt and she admits she stopped writing Herb after finding out about Larry's death. Later, Chris and Ann take a drive together and when Chris proposes, Ann accepts, while expressing concern over Kate's reaction. During their absence, Ann's brother George, an attorney, telephones her after visiting Herb. Joe and Kate worry about the call, as Herb has always maintained that Joe was to blame for shipping the defective parts. The next day, Ann discovers George is at the train station and Kate fears he has found some reason to reopen the trial against Joe. When Ann goes to pick up George, a neighbor, Sue Bayless, remarks to Chris that the whole town believes Joe outsmarted Herb and considers him guilty. Chris is stunned as he has never doubted his father's version of events. When George arrives, he demands that Ann return with him and refuses to approve her marrying Chris. George is now convinced that Joe lied and that Herb is innocent but Kate reminds him of the long friendship between the two families and persuades him to stay to dinner. During the meal, Joe recalls that Herb always had difficulty accepting responsibility and chronicles his own life-long dedication to hard work. When Joe boasts that he has never so much as been out sick a day, George asks him about the one day Joe did not come to the factory, the day the defective equipment was shipped. As Joe hesitates, Chris begins to doubt his father for the first time. Infuriated that Joe and Kate have tried to dissuade him from believing in his father's innocence, George storms out and Ann goes with him, despite Chris's protests. Upset by the events, Chris visits Herb in jail and at his request, Herb relates the events leading up to the day of the shipment: After receiving important government war contracts, Joe has the factory running twenty-four hours a day and, to further expedite production, cuts down on the quality of the materials. Only after the bulk of the cylinders is complete, do tests reveal the steel as too fine and unable to perform adequately. When Herb informs Joe, he protests that they are obligated to fulfill their contracts and that fixing the process will bankrupt the company. If any problems result, Joe explains, they can claim to be unaware of the defect. The following day Joe calls in sick and when the Army representatives demand their shipments, Herb telephones for instructions. Joe tells him to make the shipment and that he will assume responsibility. Herb authorizes the shipment but at the trial Joe refutes his claim. Back at the Kellers', Ann returns to inform Kate that she intends to marry Chris. Kate insists that Ann has no right as there is no proof of Larry's death, but Ann presents her with a letter from Larry written just before his final mission. After reading the letter, Kate breaks down and pleads with Ann not to show it to Joe. Meanwhile, Chris leaves the jail to pick up Joe from his weekly card game. Afterward, Chris presses his father to explain Herb's chronicle and Joe states that he had no recourse but to make the shipment, as the entire family fortune which he had spent his life amassing, was tied up in the company. Distraught, Chris strikes Joe and flees. Later that night, as Kate and Joe sit waiting for Chris to return, Kate pleads with Joe to admit his error. Joe insists his actions were justified because he was protecting his family. Ann, searching for Chris, finds him at the place where he proposed and he admits Joe's guilt but maintains that his father truly does not understand the impact of his actions. Ann then gives Chris Larry's letter, and after reading it, Chris returns home to confront his father. When Chris begins reading the letter out loud to Joe, Kate tries in vain to intercede. The letter describes how Larry read news accounts of the factory's faulty equipment, the resulting Army Air force deaths and Joe and Herb's trial. He finds Joe's betrayal unbearable and in shame intends to make sure he does not return from his next mission. Joe admits that he always knew his guilt included Larry's death, and now realizes that all those who died were equally his sons. He retreats to his room and shoots himself. A few days later, Chris and Ann depart for Chicago with Kate's blessing.
Edward G. Robinson
Richard La Marr
Leslie I. Carey
Russell A. Gausman
David S. Horsley
All My Sons
The cast wasn't all that changed in the adaptation. Miller's play used the personal family tragedy as an indictment of capitalism, insisting that a socio-economic structure that could tolerate such greed and corruption was seriously flawed. Knowing this, the FBI and the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, which had already begun its purge of those they considered Hollywood communists and sympathizers, watched the production very closely. In the middle of filming during the fall of 1947, an informant supplied the FBI with the movie's script.
Producer/screenwriter Chester Erskine had already shifted the focus of Miller's story away from criticisms of the American system to a narrower drama about the greed of one solitary man. Nevertheless, the FBI, piggybacking on an inflammatory Newsweek article stating the politically liberal Robinson was "persistently found in Communist fronts," issued an internal report that found All My Sons's "open attack" on the family to be "sickening" and blatantly collectivist, according to Lancaster biographer Kate Buford. Around the same time, a group of film professionals calling themselves the Committee for the First Amendment gathered more than 300 signatures on a petition printed in the Hollywood Reporter labeling the HUAC hearings "morally wrong" and "contrary to the basic principles of our democracy." It was signed by Lancaster, Robinson and many of the cast and crew of All My Sons.
When the picture was released, New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, in a generally glowing review, noted the alterations made between the stage and screen version by Erskine, operating, Crowther noted, "no doubt, on higher instructions." The New Republic, then still a left-leaning publication, said that the director, Irving Reis, and the studio (Universal) deserved "a citation for unusual heroism under fire" for producing and distributing the picture "in the present state of political weather."
All My Sons falls roughly in the middle of Russell Metty's long and distinguished career as one of Hollywood's most outstanding cinematographers. It came nearly a dozen years after his work on Howard Hawks' classic screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby (1938) and twelve years before his Oscar®-winning cinematography on Spartacus (1960). He brought to this production his mastery of black-and-white light and shadow, which he had just used so effectively in Orson Welles' The Stranger (1946). Later in his career, he provided the stunning Technicolor look for Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows (1955) and Written on the Wind (1956) before returning to the stark chiaroscuro of Touch of Evil (1958), his second collaboration with Welles.
All My Sons is the first Arthur Miller work to be made into a movie. It was remade for TV in 1955 and again in 1986 starring James Whitmore and Aidan Quinn in the Robinson and Lancaster roles-a version far more faithful to the tone and intent of the original. Miller's plays The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, and The Prize have also been made into feature films and television dramas numerous times, and he also wrote scripts directly for the screen, most notably The Misfits (1961), which starred Miller's wife, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Montgomery Clift.
Director: Irving Reis
Producer: Chester Erskine
Screenplay: Chester Erskine, based on the play by Arthur Miller
Cinematography: Russell Metty
Editing: Ralph Dawson
Art Direction: Hilyard Brown, Bernard Herzbrun
Original Music: Leith Stevens
Cast: Edward G. Robinson (Joe Keller), Burt Lancaster (Chris Keller), Mady Christians (Kate Keller), Louisa Horton (Ann Deever), Howard Duff (George Deever).
by Rob Nixon
All My Sons
Stage actress Louisa Horton made her screen debut in All My Sons. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was to be shot on location in Santa Rosa, CA but poor weather forced the production to recreate much of the outdoor scenery on a soundstage. Production notes indicate that the Western Stove Company in Culver City, CA doubled as "Joe Keller's" plant and factory workers appeared in the film handling the heavy equipment. As noted in the film's onscreen credits, the original play was awarded the New York Critics Circle prize for the 1946-47 season. Burt Lancaster recreated his role as "Chris Keller" on a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on May 1, 1950. All My Sons was also broadcast on the Screen Directors Playhouse radio program on December 2, 1949.
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1948
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1948