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Kings Row
Kings Row
Actors: Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, Betty Field, Charles Coburn
Director: Sam Wood
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2006     2hr 7min

It's a quaint turn-of-the-century small town of shady streets, swimming holes and the Sunday afternoon clip-clop of horse and buggy. But that peaceful exterior conceals human lives twisted by cruelty, murder and madness. K...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, Betty Field, Charles Coburn
Director: Sam Wood
Creators: James Wong Howe, Ralph Dawson, David Lewis, Hal B. Wallis, Casey Robinson, Henry Bellamann
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Black and White - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/15/2006
Original Release Date: 04/18/1942
Theatrical Release Date: 04/18/1942
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 7min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

Good melodrama, great cast
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 10/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a riveting soap opera with a cast that holds all the pieces together, and keeps the sometimes improbable plot fascinating at all times for the viewer.
It was filmed on a soundstage, with very effective scenic design by William Cameron Menzies...I just love the skies !
Brilliantly conceived and directed by Sam Wood, it's based on Harry Bellamann's best-selling novel. The excellent Erich Wolfgang Korngold score also adds to the drama and atmosphere.Set in a turn of the century small town, where the dark secrets and vile motives of some contrast with the goodness of others, the best scenes are between Ann Sheridan and Ronald Reagan.
The chemistry between them is a delight, and their acting so real, one feels one is sharing the moment with them, even though this was filmed over 60 years ago. They shine as Randy and Drake, two strong, independent, and fun loving souls.With the exception of one or two scenes with rather stilted dialogue between Betty Field and Robert Cummings, the pacing never lags. There are great actors even in the supporting roles, like Dame Judith Anderson and Maria Ouspenskaya. Claude Rains is absolutely marvelous, and steals every scene he's in.This classic was nominated for several Oscars...B&W Cinematography (James Wong Howe), Director, and Best Picture, but lost to a "Mrs. Minever" sweep.
It's perhaps Ronald Reagan's best performance, so this film is a piece of American history, as well as being highly entertaining."
A grim soap opera with Ronald Reagan's finest performance
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Kings Row" is the most distinguished film of Ronald Reagan's actor career, for which he drew his best reviews. However, by the time it was released in 1942, Reagan was in the Army and his film career had received a fateful interruption that would eventually lead to his shifting to a political career. I remember that when Breshnev was preparing to meet with President Reagan the Soviet leader screened several of Reagan's films, and "King's Row" was the one that impressed him. If you have already seen this film, directed by Sam Wood, you know why.The film focuses on five childhood friends who grow up to complicated lives. Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) has become a medical student, studying privately with Dr. Alexander Tower (Claude Rains), whose daughter Cassandra (Betty Field) is a sheltered neurotic. Louise Gordon (Nancy Coleman) has been raised by harsh parents who warn here away from playboy Drake McHugh (Reagan), who is living off an inheritance. Drake ends up falling for Randy Monoghan (Ann Sheridan), the former tomboy who has grown up in to a most practical working class girl. Things then get very dark. First, when Dr. Tower discovers Cassandra is pregnant he kills her and himself. Then, after losing his fortune and taking a job at the railroad yard, Drake is injured and Dr. Gordon (Charles Coburn) decides to amputate the young man's legs as a punishment for his former hedonism. This is what leads to Reagan's unforgettable scene when he wakes up and discovers what has been done to him. The scene could have become ludicrous, but Reagan pulls it off and it is clearly his finest moment as an actor. "Kings Row" is based on the novel by Henry Bellamann, which is a massive story of sadism and thwarted love in what was clearly the "Payton Place" of its day, set in a quiet Midwestern town at the turn of the (last) century. A lot of the novel's elements, such as incest, homosexuality and euthanasia were never going to make it into the film forcing screenwriter Casey Robinson to salvage what he could (e.g., turning the incest between Dr. Tower and his daughter Cassandra into a question of insanity). Robinson also gave the movie a "happier" ending (originally, Drake McHugh dies of cancer after his legs are unnecessarily amputated). Even more radical was the casting, since few in Hollywood were comfortable with Sheridan, Cummings and Reagan having the three lead roles. However, all of them perform admirably, as does Field and the supporting cast of veteran character actors. Reagan would go on to entitle his autobiography "Where's the Rest of Me?" after the famous line he screams when he awakens to discover his legs are gone. He often told the story about what it was like to film the scene, his worried preparation for him to find the moment in him as an actor and director Wood waiting for Reagan to give the go ahead. For his parent, Reagan always credited Ann Sheridan, who was not supposed to be in the scene. But when he suddenly started calling for Randy she rushed into the room in character and Reagan delivered a powerful scene."
A grim soap opera with Ronald Reagan's finest performance
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

""King's Row" is the most distinguished film of Ronald Reagan's actor career, for which he drew his best reviews. However, by the time it was released in 1942, Reagan was in the Army and his film career received a fateful interruption that would eventually lead to his shifting to a political career. I remember that when Breshnev was preparing to meet with President Reagan the Soviet leader screened several of Reagan's films, and "King's Row" was the one that impressed him. If you have already seen this film, directed by Sam Wood, you know why.The film focuses on five childhood friends who grow up to complicated lives. Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) has become a medical student, studying privately with Dr. Alexander Tower (Claude Rains), whose daughter Cassandra (Betty Field) is a sheltered neurotic. Louise Gordon (Nancy Coleman) has been raised by harsh parents who warn here away from playboy Drake McHugh (Reagan), who is living off an inheritance. Drake ends up falling for Randy Monoghan (Ann Sheridan), the former tomboy who has grown up in to a most practical working class girl. Things then get very dark. First, when Dr. Tower discovers Cassandra is pregnant he kills her and himself. Then, after losing his fortune and taking a job at the railroad yard, Drake is injured and Dr. Gordon (Charles Coburn) decides to amputate the young man's legs as a punishment for his former hedonism. This is what leads to Reagan's unforgettable scene when he wakes up and discovers what has been done to him. The scene could have become ludicrous, but Reagan pulls it off and it is clearly his finest moment as an actor. "King's Row" is based on the novel by Henry Bellamann, which is a massive story of sadism and thwarted love in what was clearly the "Payton Place" of its day, set in a quiet Midwestern town at the turn of the (last) century. A lot of the novel's elements, such as incest, homosexuality and euthanasia were never going to make it into the film forcing screenwriter Casey Robinson to salvage what he could (e.g., turning the incest between Dr. Tower and his daughter Cassandra into a question of insanity). Robinson also gave the movie a "happier" ending (originally, Drake McHugh dies of cancer after his legs are unnecessarily amputated). Even more radical was the casting, since few in Hollywood were comfortable with Sheridan, Cummings and Reagan having the three lead roles. However, all of them perform admirably, as does Field and the supporting cast of veteran character actors. Reagan would go on to entitle his autobiography "Where's the Rest of Me?" after the famous line he screams when he awakens to discover his legs are gone."
Great adaptation of a controversial book
meiringen | the Midwest | 06/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Kings Row" was the "Peyton Place" of the 1940's, and after a few attempts at a script, Warners finally got the censors to approve one. Although it does leave out the controversial elements of the book, it still manages to get the main story across--that of Parris (Robert Cummings), Drake (Ronald Reagan), and Randy (Ann Sheridan), from childhood to adulthood, with lots of twists and turns inbetween.Sheridan is the one who really shines in this film. Given the chance to prove that she was more than just a second lead or wise-cracking girlfriend, Sheridan shows that she can handle drama, especially in the scenes with Reagan (who also is above his usual workman-like performances) after he has his accident and loses his legs.Maria Ouspenskaya, best know as the gypsy in "The Wolf Man," shows that she was a very underrated character actress in her brilliant performance as Parris' grandmother, a queenly and noble woman who instills all of the right values in her grandson.Korngold's score is superb (a precursor of John Williams' score for "Star Wars"), and if you can find a copy of it on CD, I suggest a listen to that as well. It gives the film a real boost, and is one of Korngold's best.In all, one of the best dramas of the 1940's, and one of Warner Bros. best films ever."