Sunday, June 29, 2014
Classic Cinema Spotlight: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) is one of those films that I have heard great things about and having been longing to see for some time. It did not disappoint.
The film begins with showing the viewer an average family in the early 1900's who live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (NYC). The family consists of a struggling mother (Katie Nolan) who is burdened with the bills and of being the responsible one, a father (Johnny Nolan) who is a alcoholic and a dreamer, a daughter (Francie Nolan) who adores her father and loves to learn, and a typically boyish son (Neely Nolan) who if he had a choice would eat and play all day long.
The beginning of the film sets the stage for all the relationships which get deeper as it progresses. Francie (Peggy Ann Garner) just adores her father. The tender connection Johnny (James Dunn) has with Francie just grows deeper and more profound as the story unfolds. I didn't expect that. The first 25 minutes of the film I was semi-indifferent to the characters but by the end I had a lump in my throat and heaviness in my heart.
Joining the Nolan family is their aunt Sissy (Joan Blondell), Officer McShane (Lloyd Nolan), and McGarrity (James Gleason). Each character brought an added ingredient to the story and each was a pleasure to watch on screen.
I have not read the book yet but I do know that the film covers less than is told in the book. Although that is the case I found the film to be joyful and heart wrenching at the same time. It's not a misery to watch as some tearjerker films are but one that you feel as though you NEED to watch it.
I don't want to give too many details of the story or the characters because it is beautiful to watch unfold and blossom.
I found the film to be a reminder on how fragile yet beautiful the human story can be. Both Dunn and Garner won Academy Awards for their roles as father and daughter.