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Fred, everyone,

 

Great viewpoints from all three of you here. Terrific reviews too. Inspired. I tried adding the first 10 minutes, which I think is important to see with the Movie-tone track. The upload stalled out a couple times. I will re-boot the computer and try it again. Hopefully, that will do the trick.

 

Please view some of the other videos and comment on them. Thanks.

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The fog swirling around really emphasized this feeling that they were in "no man's land"---literally.

 

No man's land is a perfect way to say it. You could barley see the men, and you couldn't even see the landscape, so they could have been anyone, ANYWHERE at that point. It was like they were all lumped together, if only for a moment. There were no "boarders" or "battle lines" drawn around their thoughts at the one point in time as the "poor devil" was calling for his mother.

 

This sounds crazy, but it reminded me of some of the war themed episodes of Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone".

 

Tell me more, little missy. I am not pulling up any reference points for "The Zone" on this one (I can't even think of any war themed episodes right now... but I am likely forgetting some)

 

That was Ford's close friend Jack Pennick who made that comment. He was in just about all of Pappy's movies, often in non-speaking roles, or playing a bar man.

 

I knew I had seen him in other Ford films, but never realized what his name was, though I did recognize that face.. oh me... and what a face that was.. ha. He was not any sort of " beauty contest winner" but it DID add a lot of character to his "character". ha.

 

And that brings me to my next point... The FACES in this film. I have mentioned it before how I love the way Ford often brings jn people with really definite "types" of faces to add to the feel of the story... and this film is not exception. He did a great job of using a lot of really interesting looking characters in this one and of focusing on them individually from time to time. You got the sense that you knew all about some of them without even knowing who they were.

 

Didn't it seem like the guy in Joseph's shop at first was all for the German soldiers, before America entered the war, and then when Joseph went off to enlist, he was for the Americans?

 

I need to see that part again, because I don't remember him being "for them" so much as being interested in all the politics surrounding the war. But I could have misread some of what was happening. I don't recall what he specifically said early on, so you may be right. (That is the down side to some silent film conversations.. ha. They are sometimes open to interpretation)

 

(Ha.. Oh, gagaman... don't hit me for saying that.. :D )

 

Besides the "November 9th" scene, the other one that really was hard to watch was when that creep conscripted Andreas and had them shave his head. Did you think that this scene sort of eerily foreshadowed the Nazi camps that were to come in the next war?

 

That is what I felt too.. but also I got the strong sense of something almost "biblical" with him being led like a lamb to the slaughter.. to pay for his brother's sin of being an American. But I might have been reading too much into that. Anyway.. it was a very gutwrenching thing to watch, to be sure.

 

I'm so glad you liked it

 

Oh kid, you know me so well. ha. Was there ever any doubt??? :D

 

PS: gagman.. I tried what you suggested w/ your link. I also did what Mr Dobbs did, and clicked it several times and I did (finally) get an image to come up on the screen.. but it was more or less just frozen. So I even tried to move the little cursor thingie back and forth a bit to get it started.. but it still won't play. Again, I am wondering if part of the problem is not my doofy computer. I'll keep trying.

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rohanaka,

 

Do any of the videos play back? Did you look at any of the others and try to get those going? I have two pages of videos. Not just my videos, do anyone's play?

 

I have since successfully uploaded the first 10 minutes with the Movie-tone track by the way. Try rebooting the machine too. Maybe you need to defragment the system too? You may have clicked one time to many and it went back to pause. I have done this before, and didn't know it right away.

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Success at last. (ha) Oh me.. .it was everything you said and more, sir. Very moving. I don't even really recall the music that played in last night's showing, but what you posted is really something. (that voice calling out in the darkness.. oh me)

 

RE: the other videos and my computer too... I have not tried to click on any of the other links there (the only ones I have checked out were the songs you posted earlier and then this clip here) but will try again sometime to view some of the others.

 

As for "rebooting and defragmenting" ha.. I am afraid you are talking to the worlds most inept "technophobic" doofus. Ha. I think I have info on how to do both these things... I just need to check it out.. my dad usually helps me w/ that sort of stuff and I do believe he is my resident (or actually visiting..ha) de-fragger. (as if I even know what that MEANS, ha) I will check w/ him. Thanks.

 

And thanks again for that excellent link. It was well worth the effort to get it to play.

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I watched about the first 40 minutes before work and the primary thing that struck me so far is the economy and beauty with which each character is introduced. (I count the German Army as a character so far.)

 

From the dissolve from the name on each drawer in the dresser to a 15 or 20 second clip you get such a sense of each brother. Even the bar owner and family is defined by their size and the way they "run" through the restaurant.

 

The Germans at once are shown to be arrogant, pompous, superficial and somewhat ridiculous. Right from the moment the train comes into the station (which has a very nice reverse dolly shot to go along side the train) it is required to back up about 15 feet so the commander can get out exactly where he wants. The "double mint twins" get off the train first, dressed exactly alike then move exactly alike all the while being ever so precise and proper as the commander gets off.

 

Then with the Army as they go off to war a lovely shot of the Army coming through town from the view through the cemetery. Certainly an indication of things to come for some of them. And then with the officers leading the way a black cat runs in front of them (also like "Stagecoach") and the commander is so upset he kills it with his sword.

 

One nice touch musically was when Joseph shows up in America, as if you couldn't tell from the traffic, the music changes to a few bars of jazz to reinforce his location.

 

Mother is set up with plenty of love from her boys and the village. I like the shot of the shadow of her hand over the boys as she prays for them as they go off to war. Sentimental, yes but a very touching moment.

 

Not much going on yet but we get in that time a deep sense of who these people are and some of their dreams. Looking forward to the rest of it.

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I finished the film and agree with everyone that this is more of a Mother's Day type film. In fact the title probably should have reflected more of her than her sons.

 

It is a lovely film. A wonderful performance by Margaret Mann as the mother. It seemed to me that as her last son went off to war her appearance changed. Not quite as proper as she was earlier. Her shawl gives her a "poor" look. And maybe she was as her last son went away while deep in her heart I think she knew he would not come back. His departure on the train and her desperate attempt to kiss his hand is a wonderful scene.

 

I did find it funny that Joseph could go across the ocean and in a foggy battlefield in France stumble upon his brother when he later couldn't find his mother in NY. France was a stretch but NY is completely understandable. It was a nice ending.

 

A wonderful surprise to find this film.

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OK, I finally watched the film and I cannot add much of anything to the conversation, gulp!

 

It was a beautifully made film, heartfelt and sad, but I did not get the feeling that I was being manipulated in any way...you know, like a traditional tearjerker. Oh boy, those big strong boys, all lost because of a madman who had to have his way.

 

Ro, I think you really nailed it when you discussed the way each character was given a little time in order to set up the town, and how the people there were so close. None of them were stereotypes, they were just kindly people going about their everyday lives helping one another as they had done for years and years. It was heartbreaking to see the town torn apart and the old ways thrown aside.

 

The whole way the train was used as a way of describing the town, and the people in it, and then as the bringer of those awful huns...men who were more concerned with their uniforms and medals than with people....was just brilliant - I hope, FredC, that you saw the opening sequence and how the camera just pulled back and back and back as the train came into the station. Incredible.

 

The shot that most caught me was during Andreas' hair shaving scene - the way his mother, at the window, covered the sight of it with her hand, and it blocked our view of her horrified face, then the way her hand stayed on the window until the dissolve - oh golly I can still see that hand.....

 

The other scene that really got me was the Mutterchen scene on the battlefield - so moving.

 

I have not watched the original score clip yet, but I did feel a loss that there was no matching of the music at this crucial point in the movie. The music is so crucial in Ford's films, I felt a big lack here, and yes, there should have been an attempt to make a mournful sound at that moment.

 

I am sorry to harp, and this is the last time I will mention it, because the movie stands so well even with these minor complaints. The thing that truly disturbed me was the ending of the movie....a beautiful long fade out, or what should have been a long fade out, but instead of seeing The END the way it was originally shown, we get a big credit placed too quickly and jarringly - it was for the composer of the new score! I'm sorry, but it really bugged me that they placed two composer and music credit titles before we even got the original The End title. That was just unforgivable in my opinion. It was not HIS movie to chop and hack off the end of and toot his own horn, so to speak, or even the restorer's movie. they should have let the movie end as it would have originally, THEN added the new credits after.

 

Anyway, I don;t want to end my post on a complaint, but I thought the acting was terrific all the way around. I especially liked the way Joseph was portrayed and I never realized who he was - James Hall of Hell's Angels and The Canary Murder Case. I wonder why he gave up acting and died so young? Isn't it amazing that that slap on the face, and his reaction to it, to go to America, actually saved him from death at the hands of that awful man?

 

The other brothers were all fantastic in their own ways as well, especially George Meeker in his first role as Andreas. Why do I know his name?

 

But of course the honors go to Margaret Mann, you really felt her slipping under after they took Andreas off, and movieman, I did notice her change... she was so great at conveying real love and sweetness, something very difficult to do

 

Miss G - I was almost shocked to see those big head closeups at first, but then realized that the change n feeling that they gave, the way you could see right into Jack Pennick's thoughts at the moment when he is hearing the cry form the battlefield - it all made it a very special and favorite moment for me.

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I had wanted to refresh my memory on WHAT PRICE GLORY? when all of a sudden on came this movie I couldn't identify that just didn't seem anything like Raoul Walsh to me, lol. In addition to the absence of Edmund, Vic, and the fun of lip-reading their uncensored verbal sparring, this "new" film caught me by pleasant surprise as I was trying my darnest to figure out who the director was. There was poetic imagery and beautiful cinematography. I eliminated Wellman too, ha! Ford did cross my mind but what really cinched him for me were several shots: the march of soldiers through town as we also see the mother sorrowfully and patiently "waiting"; the use of shadows -- of the postman's on a wall preceding his "real" self (this reminded me of Tom Doniphon's shadow on the wall before the showdown in TMWSLV) -- the black cat crossing the German officer's path (Chris, I thought of STAGECOACH too!) -- Mann's shadow over her son's faces as she prays for each one; the sensitivity to the immigrant experience in America. I was quite pleased with myself at the closing credits to find out it really WAS Pappy.

(no, I don't want a medal, lol) Andreas getting his head shaved did queasily foreshadow the second world war for me, too, Miss G. Mother Bernle's hand at that window, with the frame looking like a cross, was unforgettable. I enjoyed the sentimental, affectionate, gemutlich portrayal of the postman -- I just knew he would start and then stop twirling his moustache at the awful delivery he had to bring.

 

Edited by: Bronxgirl48 on Jun 3, 2010 9:48 PM

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Terrific reviews folks. I'll have to tarack down my old review. I haven't seen it since probably mid 2007. It's gratifying that people keep discovering this film. I guess I am kind of surprised because. *FOUR SONS* should be a better known picture than *WHAT PRICE GLORY?* is. Since *FOUR SONS* has been on DVD for a few years now, and was shown on the Fox-Movie channel. As far as I know *WHAT PRICE GLORY?* hasn't been on Television anyplace since the old AMC ran it with the Movie-Tone score in 1996. And no version has been released on DVD. I also first saw *FOUR SONS* with the vintage score on the old AMC in 1999. It just is not the same film with out the vintage Movie-tone track, and *WHAT PRICE GLORY?* isn't either. Imagine *WHAT PRICE* without *CHARMAINE?* Well, that's how I feel about the lack of the *LITTLE MOTHER* theme being used.

 

 

 

I sure hope that TCM is still looking into WPG. Maybe for Veterans Day. *LILAC TIME* as well.

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>The shot that most caught me was during Andreas' hair shaving scene - the way his mother, at the window, covered the sight of it with her hand, and it blocked our view of her horrified face, then the way her hand stayed on the window until the dissolve - oh golly I can still see that hand.....

 

The thing that struck me about the scene was two fold. One was his hair falling sort of focusing on the curls seemed to me to point out his youth. The hand on the glass might be a refection on the blessing she gave the older boys. The shadow of her hand over their faces is now replaced by the flat distortion of her hand on the glass.

 

As far as the composer credit goes this, as I recall, is not unique to this film. At least they attempted to make it look like it fit.

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Eureka, I've found it! Here is the Vitaphone Varieties page from late 2007. In it the reviewer stresses his considerable dismay over Fox replacing the brilliant original scoring track to John Ford's *FOUR SONS.*

 

 

http://vitaphone.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2008-01-14T20%3A30%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=1

 

 

 

*"To be sure, we have many a transitional period (of silence to sound) gem from that studio with us --- and some have even ventured forth out of enforced seclusion onto DVD, such as those released in conjunction with the massive "John Ford at Fox" set which arrived on the market in time for the holidays. While the full $299.99 set seems destined to serve as a corporate gift and will sit upon many an executive office's shelf, we regular folk were gifted with a fine selection of John Ford's work which may be had individually or in smaller sets. While I'm apparently one of the very few that believe that John Ford's legend far exceeds his reality, I nonetheless grabbed at the "Ford at Fox: John Ford's Silent Epics" set --- although mostly for what I consider one of the finest examples of the 1928/1929 transitional period, "Four Sons."*

 

*Inexplicably, Fox has torn away the film's original magnificent synchronized Roxy Orchestra Movie-tone music and effects score from "Four Sons," --- it's not even offered as an alternate audio track, and replaced it with what I feel is a very poor new one indeed. Oh, the new score sounds just fine --- clear, bright and even rich in spots, and it's a certainty that the composer studied the original Movietone soundtrack closely --- but in the end, the new score fails miserably.*

 

*The original score was so tightly interwoven into the action upon the screen that "Four Sons" never seemed so much a silent film as merely a quiet one --- with the score serving to bridge sequences, underline them, counterpoint them and highlight them so skillfully that the thought of "Four Sons" image without its' soundtrack seemed unthinkable.*

 

*The new score neatly proves not only what tremendous and lasting damage can be done to a silent film fitted out with an inappropriate score, but also how easily an early synchronized film can be transformed from a visual and aural period symphony into quite something else.*

 

*The most riveting and perhaps the defining moment of "Four Sons," when the dying pleas of a soldier on the fog shrouded battle field for his "little mother" is heard on the original Movietone soundtrack amidst almost complete silence, is shattered here by the careless and inexplicable handling in this presentation. Although we see the characters on the screen lift their heads and eyes towards the distant dying utterance, this supreme moment when the art of silent cinema co-existed beautifully with the new sound technology goes unmarked and unnoticed in the busily bland new score, turning a moment in screen history that unfailingly caused the small hairs on the back of your neck to rise into -- well, nothing. Just nothing.*

 

*The saddest aspect to all this, like much of the recent late silent and early sound product arriving on DVD, is that it always seems to just miss the mark of perfection, or always seems as though costs, effort and enthusiasm were cut or lacking in in the most ill advised spots. A million dollar image restoration and a hundred bucks spent for scoring and research, it would seem. I just don't get it. Are there no students of film history in the employ of the major studios? Someone to suggest that something isn't right --- or to boldly say "No! You'll ruin it!?" Whereas Warner Bros. (with the problematic but well intended DVD release of "The Jazz Singer) celebrates and luxuriates in their studio's contributions to the birth of the talking film, Fox --- which was as much a player in the technological leap as Warners', ignores and all but shuns it.*

 

*For films of this period being released to DVD, it's pretty much a one shot deal. No second chances --- at least in our lifetime. What lands on the store shelf BECOMES the film as it will be seen, studied, explored and understood for years and years to come. We're taking in gold and churning out tin. Not even tin --- just plastic.*

 

*A few audio fragments from the original Movietone synchronized version of "Four Sons," which now serve only as examples of what has been lost:*

 

*The Village Birthday Fete for the Little Mother: Here, amidst hand clapping and shouts that accompany a traditional folk dance, the audio level of the score rose and fell in volume as the image cut between the dancers and conversation between characters within the walls of a house.*

 

*The Dying Solider: (See above for description)*

 

*The New World & Conclusion: The Little Mother arrives in New York City and struggles to make her way to her son aboard the subway ("My New York" is used here as scoring) --- she finds herself helplessly lost on the dark, rain-slicked streets of the city. The original score interpolated bits of "The Sidewalks of New York" and "Give My Regards to Broadway" here to counterpoint the character's despair and confusion--- and, when a helpful NYC policeman comes to the woman's aid, the score reflected this (listen for "Yankee Doodle Dandy") and transformed the terrifying city landscape, by this action -- both heard and seen, into HOME for the new arrival to these shores. No such thought or care is evident in the new score and indeed, it would seem that the old woman is more lost than any of us expected, for the new score suggests she's arrived in 1948 New York instead of the city of 1928!*

 

*In the end, all this hot air on my part counts for nothing, for the damage to "Four Sons" has been done and likely won't ever be remedied. But, as cinema history is being mangled before being tossed onto the heap that is the DVD retail market, there needs to be some cautionary words spoken --- even if they sometimes can't be heard above the din of self-congratulation and back-slapping emanating from some DVD production companies."*

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Jeff,

 

 

I tried to post something over at the union, but it won't let me post a comment unless I am signed up to Facebook.

 

I don't want to go on and on about the soundtrack too much more, but why on earth did they feel the need to compose a new score for a movie from 1928, that already had such a lovely and clear sounding musical accompaniment?

 

It makes no sense to me that while silent films languish without scores, this one, which from your posted clips was pretty much already a sound picture, was picked as a candidate for a new score. Chopping off a historical soundtrack and adding a new one defies logic, It is like cutting out the Mona Lisa's smile and replacing it with one with whiter teeth. It is kind of a sacrilege, not to mention tampering with history. It becomes not a restoration, but a different film altogether.

 

And I have to tell you, the Erno Rapee/Lew Pollack score sounds like a brilliant one, and I can only imagine each person's theme being brought up again and again at integral parts of the film - how moving that must have been, to hear each brother's theme throughout the film, played slow or fast depending on the circumstances, or hearing the long forgotten refrain of the Little Mother when Mother Bernle is hugging her grandchild..... . it makes me weep thinking about it.

 

Edited by: JackFavell on Jun 4, 2010 1:34 PM

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I agree, Jeff. It makes no sense they would bother tacking on an unnecessary and inferior soundtrack and score when the original was in good shape. Who understands the powers that be and their unique brand of logic?

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Wendy,

 

I'm signed up to Facebook, but never use the account. Don't even recall my user name or password. I think all you have to do is disable the share on Facebook square and you should be able to post on TCM Classic Film Union. You don't need to be a Facebook member I don't believe.

 

Thanks again to you Miss Goddess, and everyone for the feedback.

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I'm definitely not signed up with Facebook, but I was able to comment. I did get the message that indicated I need to be a member of Facebook, but I just ignored it and it posted my comment any way.

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I'm so desperately trying understand the powers-that-be, here.

 

------ <<< MESSAGE >>>-------

 

I agree, Jeff. It makes no sense they would bother tacking on an unnecessary and inferior soundtrack and score when the original was in good shape. Who understands the powers

that be and their unique brand of logic?

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