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Sunday, rare film, ?Ah, Wilderness!? (1935)


FredCDobbs
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10 AM Eastern time:

 

Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009

 

*Ah, Wilderness! (1935)*

 

In his only comedy, Eugene O'Neill captures the trials of growing up in small-town America.

 

Cast: Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore, Aline MacMahon, Eric Linden Dir: Clarence Brown BW-98 mins, TV-G

 

 

This is an interesting ?family film? from 1935. It?s about life in a family in a small town around the turn of the Century. It?s a comedy, but it covers some serious issues.

 

It shows all the usual conservative type of old family things, but it also shows a young guy, graduating from high school, who has some unusual radical political ideas. Radical for 1900, and radical for 1935.

 

It also shows the young man trying to grow up fast and become a man, so he lets some older guy talk him into going into a local bar, where the young man makes a lot of typical young-man mistakes with an older dame who is experienced and knows how to deal with young men. That sequence makes the film up-to-date in any era, from ancient Roman times, right up to today.

 

This movie shows the older father and other family members trying to deal with these young-man problems. Also, there are some other interesting family situations that are quite interesting. A funny film, but containing more serious situations than an Andy Hardy type film.

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*Ah Wilderness* is on my top 10 list. It's a lovely, evocative film about growing up in 1906 Connecticut. Wonderful cast, literate script, nice music, and a bit of Swinburne and Omar Khayyam. It's O'Neill's only comedy -- many of the character traits that seem endearing and amusing in this work become tragic in his later works. Eric Linden and Aline MacMahon stand out in a perfect cast.

 

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,

A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse - and Thou

Beside me singing in the Wilderness -

And Wilderness is Paradise enow."

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Ah, this was a lovely movie, thank you for recommending it. :)

 

It's amazing to think that this is more or less how Americans lived about 100 years ago, with motor vehicles still negotiating the roads with lots of horse-drawn carriages. (Well, at least that's how it is in the movie).

 

But the human element is first and foremost, and that is the movie's greatest strength, and I agree that this might be the most sympathetic part Wallace Beery ever played - love that scene with him and Lily out in the porch, drinking spiked lemonade. :D

 

Ah great movie, wish it was restored and given a proper DVD release (rather than being relegated to the Warner Archives).

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He was also in THE AGE OF CONSENT (1932) which aired this morning. I didn't realize he had a role in this until I saw the credits. Happily, I DVD'd this for later viewing.

 

I guess if he's remembered at all today, it's as the solider getting his leg amputated in GONE WITH THE WIND. A small, but effective role.

 

IMDB doesn't give much of a biography. I wonder how the rest of his life went.

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On stage, of course, you don't get the carriages and cars. But the action centers on the home (and the local tavern!) in a way that equally illustrates the era and the environment. I saw a sweet little production in Chicago. Semi-professional, some actors were stronger than others. But that merely enhanced the flavor. Gave it kind of quiet sincerity. It's what Chicago theatre does best.

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> {quote:title=redriver wrote:}{quote}

> On stage, of course, you don't get the carriages and cars. But the action centers on the home (and the local tavern!) in a way that equally illustrates the era and the environment. I saw a sweet little production in Chicago. Semi-professional, some actors were stronger than others. But that merely enhanced the flavor. Gave it kind of quiet sincerity. It's what Chicago theatre does best.

 

I would love to get the chance to watch this on-stage someday, I think it would definitely work as well or better, if the production is true to the spirit of the original play.

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All of this makes me wonder if any of these more obscure titles are available for broadcast and, if so, can TCM get them? Looks like '32 was quite a year for Eric. I'd love to see some of these movies. My new Film-Buff-War Cry: FREE ERIC FROM THE VAULTS!

 

Anyway...since this thread is actually about AH, WILDERNESS! -- I was delighted to have the opportunity to catch this the other day.

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