2016 Reviews · Classic · movie · TCM

TCM 31 Days of Oscar – Of Human Hearts

TCM 31 Days of Oscar

TCM 31 Days of Oscar

I’ve challenged myself to watch a movie every day from Turner Classic Movie channel’s 31 Days of Oscar. And I’m going to be focusing on the movies I haven’t seen yet, with maybe just a few rewatch movies.

Here is my 15th day and movie of my challenge to TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar.

Of Human Hearts

Of Human Hearts 1938

7 out of 10 stars

1938 Drama film. From the story “Benefits Forgot” by Honoré Morrow. Starring James Stewart, Walter Huston, Beulah Bondi, Gene Reynolds, Guy Kibbee, Charles Coburn, John Carradine and Ann Rutherford.

The 360° Game: stars off with The Gorgeous Hussy starring Beulah Bondi, and she was in Of Human Hearts with Charles Coburn who was in the next film, George Washington Slept Here.

And the Oscar does not go to… Beulah Bondi was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Short Synopsis: A preacher (Walter Huston) and his wife (Beulah Bondi) raise an ungrateful son (James Stewart), up to the Civil War.

My Thoughts: The first half of the movie with the kid was nice. I started of disliking the father because I thought he was just swindling the people in a sly sort of way. Then came James Stewart’s role and for the first time, I disliked a role that he played as. It’s more because of the character itself than his acting. I still think that James is such a wonderful actor. And it really gives James credit if I actually don’t like the character he plays. He does save the character in the end though with his crying and please forgive me acting. The film itself is a bit slow and it took a lot from me to not fast forward some of it. But I thought the acting was well done. And definitely a to-be-watched for those James Stewart fans.

A note before I start watching this… why I chose this movie: because of James Stewart.

And a fun fact: For publicity, MGM held a $5,000  contest to see who could come up with the best title, and high school student Ray Harris from South Carolina won.
“A Life magazine article noted that the film’s battle scene, which was not based on a specific battle, cost $50,000, and required 2,000 men to film. Life also noted that the picture was one of a “new cycle of interest in the Civil War aroused by the novel Gone With the Wind.” (AFI)

The Play by Play Thoughts


0:00 A Needle Point Art credits. Fitting for the pre Civil War era.

Of Human Hearts

0:01 “A Pioneer village on the Ohio River”. (Actually filmed in California). Steam Boats are coming. And a preacher is on one of them… that town must be a really really small town if they’re getting this excited over the arrival of some Steam Boats.

Jason: “On the map Ohio was brown, Virginia was red. They both look green to me.”

Of Human Hearts

0:05 Jason and Annie sitting on a fence. But there is no kissing. And the kid still needs to take a look at the shack that his family’s moved to.

Of Human Hearts

Father: “Well, doesn’t look very exciting does it?”

0:08 “God called your father to this place Jason.” Town meeting to see how these poor people can pay their minister, and Jason was hoping they would give them a whole lot more money. Now poor kid has to worry if he has to wear the poor people’s clothes.

Of Human Hearts Charles Coburn

“It’s Doc Shingle. He’s been at it again.” And his drunkenness is easily solved by the old guy, Elder Massey, telling him to get some air. Charles Coburn was pretty good as the Doc.

0:17 Dr. Shingle’s Magazines. He’s a doctor, and shhh… he plays cards too. Those are reason enough that the Parson/ Jason’s father doesn’t want the boy to have the Doc’s magazines. So here’s an argument with Jason and his dad. And then a disagreement with Parson and Jim over a horse. It seems that everyone is being prejudice and ignorant here.

0:27 Doc Shingle and the Medical book. And this of course leads to Jason thinking that becoming a doctor will lead him to greater success than a Parson like his dad.

Of Human Hearts

0:42 Jason’s a man now… And also James Stewart, although I was starting to like that kid. 10 years later – Doc suggests a raise for the Parson. Parson wants to take his son on the “circuit”. And Doc is going to be bleeding Mr. Ames the next day. And he can’t put it off because he might get better.

Of Human Hearts

0:48 Jason still likes Annie. Now let’s not start thinking that this will be a romance movie because of course Jason’s still got his mind set on being a successful doctor.

Of Human Hearts

1:02 Circuit Riding. Jason’s off to become a Doctor but first he’s got to go with his father in the circuit. After fighting with his father he makes up his mind to go to Baltimore’s College of Surgery. After 10 years of having hand-me-down clothes. As for having to eat a poor woman’s porridge that had a frog in it, that was pretty bad and even if the lady was going to be embarrassed, the Parson could’ve at least said something. Or at least not eat the darn frog. As for the fight, well both the father and son are stubborn, so the ending would’ve lead to them being more separate. But at least Jason had the sense to say he was sorry.

And a note on the religious Circuit Riding: “Circuit riders were clergy in the Methodist Episcopal Church and related denominations.” (Wikipedia) The Circuit was an unofficial duty of the minister. Started at the Christmas Conference of 1784 and ended sometime before the CIvil War.

Of Human Hearts

So really it makes some sense now that this relationship between father and son is doomed. And the story progresses with Jason moving out and becoming a doctor.

1:07 A Year Later. The Parson is very sick and so stubborn that he refuses to accept help from Doc Shingle. And I doubt he’d accept help from his son, despite how well he’s doing at school.

Turned out the father was sick for a few months. And it wasn’t until he was dying that he let Doc Shingle take a look at him.

Of Human Hearts

1:14 “He’s gone Mom.” And then 3 years have passed with just the occasional letters to his mom. The last letter asking for more money. Thankfully there’s Doc Shingle to help out Mrs. Wilkins.

1:22 Civil War. Jason’s joined the Army and is asking his mom to sell Pilgrim to the military. That poor horse. All for more money. According to the AFI article, this war battle is fictional, which is a relief because they really over played it with all the officers on the horses. It seemed like every soldier had a horse.

Of Human Hearts

Of Human Hearts

1:28 3 years later. No letters to his mother. He has been very busy at the front lines saving all those bodies.

And he did get an executive order to go see the President. Jason is so egotistical that he thinks the President wants to commend him.

1:35 “I’m an ungrateful fool.” And it only took President Abraham Lincoln (played by John Carradine) to scold him on how ungrateful he’s been towards his parents.

Of Human Hearts Abraham Lincoln

“Blow, blow, blow, Winter white.
Thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky
That does not bite so nigh as benefits forgotten.”
– quotation in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Act II, Scene 7.

The President quoted this after forcing Jason to write his mother. And here I thought the President was busy enough, but apparently he’s got enough time to scold Jason and make home write the letter. Along with saying that quote.

Quid: “You were looking for success Jason, and you found it. But in going ahead, you forgot to glance backward.”

Both quotes says it perfect on how Jason’s been acting.

Of Human Hearts

1:42 The End. Well thankfully he was such a good surgeon that he saved that captain so he could get his horse Pilgrim back. And that way when he sees his mother, both he and Pilgrim return home. Plus Annie and Doc are finally welcomed at the Wilkins’s dinner table.

Of Human Hearts


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