Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Four Mothers (1941)

FOUR MOTHERS is the entertaining sequel to FOUR DAUGHTERS (1938) and FOUR WIVES (1939).

The entire cast is back: Priscilla, Rosemary, and Lola Lane, along with Gale Page, as the four Lemp daughters; Jeffrey Lynn, Eddie Albert, Frank McHugh, and Dick Foran as the girls' husbands; and Claude Rains as the Lemp patriarch and May Robson as his sister. The plot, concerning how the extended clan works together to handle a financial crisis, is mainly a good excuse to spend more screen time with this wonderful family.

Although I found the first film in the series a bit dark, mainly due to the presence of John Garfield's depressed character, I really love the next two films in the series. FOUR WIVES and FOUR MOTHERS are particularly good, as sequels go, because each film feels as though it's simply picking up where the last one left off, with no jarring changes in cast, sets, or tone. The use of the same "bits of business" from one film to the next, along with the recurring use of music, provides a strong sense of continuity. The final musical sequence, which builds on a scene from the second film which used the same music, provides a fitting end to the series.

I wish very much that more films had been made in the Lemp Family series, but alas, that was not to be.

The movie was directed by William Keighley. Keighley also directed Priscilla Lane and Jeffrey Lynn in YES, MY DARLING DAUGHTER (1939), reviewed here last May. FOUR MOTHERS runs 86 minutes. A side note of interest is that a scene with Claude Rains appears to have been filmed on location at the Hollywood Bowl, although I suspect the shots of the family in the audience were filmed at the studio.

FOUR MOTHERS can be seen on TCM, where it next airs on March 21, 2008.

For more on the FOUR DAUGHTERS series, see this nice post by Jacqueline at Another Old Movie Blog.

Related post here at LMM: DAUGHTERS COURAGEOUS (1939).

May 2011 Update: FOUR MOTHERS is now available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive, either as a single-title release or as part of the FOUR DAUGHTERS MOVIE SERIES COLLECTION.

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