Cast & Crew
In the spring of 1939, elderly Mrs. Sarah Freeman receives notice that the nearby university has purchased Lakeside Towers, the residential hotel in which she lives, and intends to convert it into a men's dormitory. Sarah refuses to move, however, and explains to university representative Jim Parsons that unlike the other tenants, she owns her apartment and cannot be evicted. Sarah confides in Jim that twenty-seven years previously, her beloved son Danny was expelled from the university and left home after quarreling with Sarah's now-deceased husband. Mr. Freeman purchased the apartment for Sarah, and she will not move because she is confident that Danny will return someday. Touched by her story, Parsons arranges for her to stay, and in September, the students arrive. The boys are amazed to discover that an elderly lady lives in their dorm, but soon are won over by her gentle ways. They visit her rooms for tea, set up an alarm system to preserve modesty on the floor and generally fuss over her. One night, a tipsy young woman named Lucia Stanton climbs in through Sarah's window, and, surprised by her mistake, admits that she was looking for Danny Freeman, who lives on the floor above. Sarah is overjoyed and quickly jumps to the conclusion that Danny must be her grandson. She arranges to meet the lad, who is a twenty-one-year-old freshman. Sarah's questioning reveals that Danny came to college late because of his family's wanderings, that his father is a statistician currently working in Brazil and that, according to his father, his paternal grandmother is dead. Thrilled to have a family again and hoping to meet Danny's father, whom she is convinced is her son, Sarah helps Danny, who is afraid of flunking out of school. Sarah allows the boy to study in her rooms and even helps him in his romance with Lucia, whose snobbish father dislikes Danny. In turn, Lucia and Danny shower Sarah with attention, taking her to a nightclub and to Lucia's home for a Christmas party. At the party, Sarah deliberately reveals that Lucia was looking for Danny late at night, in order to infuriate Ike Dale, Lucia's other suitor. Sarah's tactics work, as Ike tells Mr. Stanton, who in turns gets into a heated argument with Lucia and Danny. After storming out of the Stanton home, the couple elope and are soon living with Sarah in her apartment. Sarah loves to have them there, and as time passes, helps them smooth over their petty quarrels while Danny continues his studies. Soon February arrives, and with it the news that Danny's parents will be making their anticipated visit to him. Sarah's joy at the upcoming reunion with her son proves to be too much of a strain, and she passes away in her sleep the night before he is to arrive. All the students are greatly saddened when her death is discovered, and Parsons, who knew of Sarah's beliefs about Danny and his father, acts hostilely toward Mr. Freeman as they discuss the funeral arrangements. Before Parsons can make any outright accusations, however, Sarah's oldest friend, cab driver Tom Gibbons, explains that her son died many years ago in a brawl. Sarah's husband knew the truth, but fearing that it would destroy Sarah, allowed her to hope that Danny would return someday. Tom and Parsons are then comforted by the thought that Sarah died happy, believing that her son was about to come home to her.
Henri De Soto
The working title of this film was Prodigal's Mother. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Republic originally sought Edith Barrett for the leading role. John Craven was borrowed from M-G-M for the production. Hollywood Reporter also noted that the picture was the first Republic film to play Grauman's Chinese, Loew's State and the Ritz, which were prestigious "first-run" theaters, and that director Robert Siodmak received a scroll from the League of Women's Clubs in Los Angeles for his direction of a "sympathetic and sweet old lady." In the early 1950s, the film was re-edited and re-released as Gallant Thoroughbred. In 1957, Warner Bros. released another film based on Ben Ames Williams' original screen story. Entitled Johnny Trouble, it was directed by John H. Auer and starred Ethel Barrymore, Stuart Whiteman and Carolyn Jones.