Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Four Sons


Recommended Posts

Does anyone know the correct time that "Four Sons" is starting tonight? Originally TCM was going to show "What Price Glory" then they changed it to "Four Sons". The starting time was 12:30am then when I checked the day before yesterday and yesterday the starting time was changed to 11:30pm. Now today it's back to start time of 12:30am. I will be out tonight and I want to have my DVD on the correct time frame so I won't miss it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe you got the Central time zone one day, and the Eastern one the other? Far as I know it's still 11.30 in the Central Time zone, which is where I am.


Even though it is on DVD now, this movie continues to be a sadly overlooked film. Chris Caliendo's new score doesn't help any. It is not a bad score, in-fact for Caliendo it is among his better works,. But without the touching "Little Mother" theme and the subtle handling of the dying shoulder sequence FOUR SONS is just not the same film.














Thankfully, Fox learned their lesson, keeping the unforgettable Erno Rapee-Lew Pollack, Maurice Barron, Movie-Tone scores to SEVENTH HEAVEN and STREET ANGEL. But at the very least the original score should have been included with the FOUR SONS DVD as an Alternate track. It's a shame that the plans for a Raoul Walsh/Howard Hawks At Fox Collection were canceled. This certainly would have included WHAT PRICE GLORY?, and probably FIG LEAVES.



Yes, TCM was going to show WHAT PRICE GLORY?, but Fox reported no current broadcast master. They definitely had one back in 1996 because I have the Movie-tone track version from when they aired it back than on the old AMC. Hopefully, TCM will still be running WHAT PRICE GLORY?, later this year. Maybe for Veterans day? I uploaded three clips from WPG and one from WINGS on TCM Classic Film Union for Memorial Day, better go take a look before they are taken down.


Here are the links:












*FOUR SONS* is on DVD. Part of the John Ford at Fox silents Box set. But not with the vintage Movie-Tone track. In-spite of what is implied in the Silent Sunday's profile article, I doubt very seriously that we will be seeing it with the Movie-tone score tonight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never approved of talkies. Silent movies were well on their way to developing an entirely new art form. It was not just pantomime, but something wonderfully expressive.~~Lillian Gish.


*Four Sons* (1928) was a wonderful opportunity to see the art of silent filmmaking and storytelling at it?s best. John Ford?s direction and George Schneiderman?s cinematography combined to tell the bittersweet story of one family caught up in war. The film is full of visually memorable moments from the beautiful and poignant shot of the marching soldiers from the vantage point of the cemetery, the incredible tracking shot between the two lines of soldiers waiting at the train station and the heartbreaking image of a mother peering through a window watching as her youngest son is shorn of his hair, replacing her boy with a solider. Margaret Mann as ?the little mother" was lovely and struck the right balance between overly sweet and maudlin, while each of the actors who portrayed her sons were equally moving in their roles. I don?t want to overlook TCM?s generosity in airing this beautifully restored version of a deeply moving story. However, I had only one concern as I watched the film, and this involved the absence of the ?sound elements? especially during the ?muttererchen? scene. The anxiety, horror and revulsion that the soldiers feel is evident on their faces (I believe a few of them were cursing the dying soldier), but without the dying soldier?s voice calling for his little mother, the scene loses so much of the emotional impact. I can only imagine how moving this scene was for the audiences that viewed this film in the original release version. Thank you Jeff for posting the original version of the scene complete with the sound elements. The restored version is deeply moving, but the original version is truly heartbreaking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I haven't seen you on Classic Film Union for awhile. Glad that you got to see FOUR SONS. It is one of the great underrated Silent films, and should be far better know today than it is. I've always had it rated in my Top 10 since I first saw the movie in 1999. Although that was with the vintage scoring track.


Yesterday I posted the first 10 Minutes with the original Movie-Tone score. I have never posted an opening of a film with credits like this before. However, I thought that it was important to see and here the main-title from the start in this case. Here is the link:





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks so much to gagman66 for posting not only the dying soldier sequence but also the opening credits with the orignal Fox-Movietone score. Why in the world would they revise the score when they had a perfectly good and effective original score already? I could understand if there wasn't any score (as is the case of many silents) or if the score was badly in need of revision or change but why fix something that ain't broke? Honestly, I would love to see the movie again with the orignal score from start to finish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



"There is a tremendous article about the extremely unfortunate decision to replace the score on the Vita-Phone Varieties website back in December of 2007. I'll see if I can find the link. Jorge spent about 2 months reinstating the original scoring track in early 2008. I can't take the credit. I just provided the recording. It's not 100% accurately synced, but pretty close.


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











*"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."*

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't it fascinating that the brother shorn of his hair is a shepherd? That sequence was horrifying... and the little mother's hand at the window, blocking her view as all too much, too painful - I still have the impression of it in my mind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



The photo has the following inscription:


To J. H. Huber ~ With best wishes from Grandma Bernie and family in ?Four Sons?


Earle Foxe, James Hall, Charles Morton, Francis X. Bushman, Jr.


June Collyer, John Ford, Margaret Mann, George Meeker


Wendy thanks for your observation on the scene with Margaret Mann peering through the window watching as George Meeker has his hair cut. I had forgotten he was the son who was shown as a shepherd in the opening sequence, this detail makes the scene even more heartbreaking. (I might be reading way too much into the meaning, but it is rather like ?a lamb to the slaughter.?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh my gosh! That photo is fantastic! I have never seen it before...


You know there is a discussion going on about this film in the Rambles II thread in the films and filmmakers forum, and one of the posters used that very same phrase, "led like a lamb to the slaughter" but it went right over my head. DUH! I am too dumb to have caught it, but then when I went back to watch that part over again this morning, I thought of how they cut his hair - not like a barber would do it, but almost backward - up over his head, like a sheep shearing. And then it all seemed clear to me, looking at Andreas with his little shepherd's crook at the beginning of the film.


So I think that since two of you came up with it, it applies .... "like a lamb to slaughter". Andreas is a very innocent maybe even a Christ-like figure. He definitely has the demeanor of a child. He hasn't the temperament for war, nor the experience for much of any job - he strikes me as the dreamer of the bunch, and I even had thoughts about him being a little slow. I think it was really just that he was too young.... but anyway, his whole presence in the movie was as a representation of innocence and beauty.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stunning photograph, Gypsy! And you guys are sharp: "Lamb to the slaughter." It's there, I can't believe I didn't catch that before. I was caught up with images of the Nazi's shaving their victims in a later war.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
  • Create New...