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 Posted:   Jan 30, 2006 - 8:07 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

It was on TCM this afternoon and I really do like this movie, kind of a "War Finds Andy Hardy." I consider it a "lost classic" in that back in '43 it got lost among the crop of that year's great films. Plus, it isn't on DVD yet. I at least put it on par with Mrs. Miniver (which the characters see; you can read the backwards writing on the banner outside of the movie theater as the G.I.'s--Robert Mitchum, Barry Nelson and Don Defore-- and the girls walk out.

The Human Comedy is a real tearjerker and features a fine Mickey Rooney (the Leo DiCaprio of his daywink) performance and a good score by Herbert Stothart. A fine film, and a great slice of Americana. Anyone interested in the American "Home Front" during WWII will want to check out this movie. Pair this up with Since You Went Away and then let the tears flow! It's also very MGM, definitely the kind of movie that Louis B. Mayer approved of. Any fans of this movie, or of Mickey Rooney?

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2006 - 1:48 AM   
 By:   The_Mark_of_Score-O   (Member)

I remember having to read the play (actually, it was a screenplay, the first thing William Saroyan wrote directly for the movies) when I was in middle school, lo these many years ago.

It was wartime proapganda, of course, and owes more than a little to Thornton Wilder's stage play Our town (filmed in 1940). In a way, though, it rather like reading all those old novels by James Hilton (Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Lost Horizon, etc.), that portray an idealized England that never really existed. The same is true for these small-town dramas. They may depict aspects of small-town American life but, on the whole, they're just fantasies.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2006 - 1:25 PM   
 By:   David in NY   (Member)

Hello Zelig. Have always enjoyed this highly sentimental film, and the scene of the hardest telegram Mickey Rooney's character ever has to deliver... to a woman who's son has been killed in the war. Some may scoff at the sentimentality but this is a classic film.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2006 - 5:01 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

THE HUMAN COMEDY is a superb film, like many directed by the nearly-forgotten Clarence Brown, but can now be appreciated in this day-and-age only by those with emotional underpinnings and a heart that is open not just to the human comedy but the human condition.

At once sad, uplifting, sentimental, joyous, and with a totally romantic view of the world and its future possibilities, I think it strikes a chord particularly with those of us who, at least as children, lived through the period depicted.

I'm now 66, but I only first saw this film about 15 years ago in conjunction with a project I was working on. I was entranced and moved to tears often. It is a gentle, elegaic tale of small town life loaded with fine performances by Mickey Rooney, Van Johnson, Frank Morgan, "Butch" Jenkins, Donna Reed, and the others.

As for its not being critically recognized in its day, that is not true. It was nominated for at least 5 awards including BEST PICTURE and won Saroyan an Oscar for his original story.

I highly recommend this film to those sophisticated enough to appreciate it.

 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2006 - 10:11 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Thanks for the thoughtful replies everyone. Manderley, I'm stunned that you'd only seen the movie fairly recently. I thought you were the source for all things Golden Age.wink

I also want to point out the fine performance by Frank Morgan, whom I watched in a Kathryn Grayson opus today, Thousand Cheers (1943). I'm fast becoming entranced by the Fox and MGM WWII musicals. A fascinating era.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2006 - 10:44 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Thanks for the thoughtful replies everyone. Manderley, I'm stunned that you'd only seen the movie fairly recently. I thought you were the source for all things Golden Age.....


Besides seeing movies, I had a life to live!!!

.....so I missed a few along the way!


Frank Morgan IS a delight, and a prime discovery for those who only know him from THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Recently I've been listening to recordings of an old radio show produced by MGM between 1937-1940 or so, called "The MGM Good News Hour".

It was a delightful variety hour, hosted, over the years, by Robert Taylor, Robert Young, Edward Arnold, Jimmy Stewart, etc., featuring Meredith ("The Music Man") Willson and the Orchestra, different MGM guest stars each week (but sometimes including other studio's stars), song hits from then-current films, a weekly skit with Fanny Brice (portraying "Baby Snooks"), and often, Frank Morgan, as an occasional "regular". It is hysterical listening to Morgan ad lib and engage in efforts to otherwise "break up" these more staid film-based movie star guests as they try to stick to the written script.

It's also very poignant hearing Stewart, Taylor, Young and some of the other (then) very young performers nearly being their real selves, engaging in jokes and bantering. We tend to forget that these film icons of yesterday were once young colts like Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Philippe, and the others of today.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2006 - 11:29 PM   
 By:   The_Mark_of_Score-O   (Member)

also want to point out the fine performance by Frank Morgan, whom I watched in a Kathryn Grayson opus today, Thousand Cheers (1943). I'm fast becoming entranced by the Fox and MGM WWII musicals. A fascinating era.

It's called THOUSANDS CHEER (in case you go looking for it on IMDb).

It wasn't till Kathryn Grayson made ONE NIGHT OF LOVE at Warner Bros. opposite Merv Griffin (of all people), that audiences got their first look at her real figure (Jack Warner was far less prudish than L.B. Mayer). When you see that, you'll say to yourself "Whoo! Kathryn, where'ya been hidin' it (or them)"?

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 2, 2006 - 3:48 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....It wasn't till Kathryn Grayson made ONE NIGHT OF LOVE at Warner Bros. opposite Merv Griffin (of all people).....


.....and Sally Field's mother, Margaret, and Joan Weldon, etc.


ONE NIGHT OF LOVE is the 1934 Columbia picture starring opera diva Grace Moore, on whose life the Warner Bros.-Kathryn Grayson film, SO THIS IS LOVE, is based.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 2, 2006 - 7:43 AM   
 By:   The_Mark_of_Score-O   (Member)

Oops, ya got me (but, to paraphrase Shakespeare, This movie, by any other name, would still show off Grayson's attributes to their best advantage).

 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2011 - 3:41 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

The Rooney (not Wayne) renaissance begins...now:

http://www.wbshop.com/Andy-Hardy-Collection-The-Volume-1/1000211635,default,pd.html

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2011 - 11:54 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

I remember having to read the play (actually, it was a screenplay, the first thing William Saroyan wrote directly for the movies) when I was in middle school, lo these many years ago.


M-G-M bought Saroyan's 240-page script, which he reportedly wrote in about two weeks, in February 1942 for approximately $60,000. At the same time, Saroyan was negotiating with M-G-M to produce and direct the picture, and made a short film for the studio as a test piece. In May 1942, after Saroyan had completed the short, A Good Job, M-G-M decided to drop him as director of The Human Comedy and announced that King Vidor was to direct the film. (Sources disagree as to whether Saroyan was dropped because of the poor quality of the short, or because of the length of his script for The Human Comedy.) Angry, Saroyan walked off the M-G-M lot and returned to his home in Central California, where he then wrote the novel version of his story. Saroyan reportedly attempted to buy back his screenplay from M-G-M head Louis B. Mayer, but was refused. In July 1942, Clarence Brown was assigned to direct the film, and Howard Estabrook was hired to trim Saroyan's screenplay to a two-hour length. Saroyan's novel was published concurrently with the film's release, and was the March 1943 "Book-of-the-Month Club" selection. According to the New York Times review, the novel became a best-seller a week after its release.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2011 - 12:04 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

As for its not being critically recognized in its day, that is not true. It was nominated for at least 5 awards including BEST PICTURE and won Saroyan an Oscar for his original story.


Right you are Manderley. To elaborate:

"The Human Comedy" was generally well-received by critics and earned many accolades. The Hollywood Reporter reviewer described the film as "the best picture this reviewer has ever seen," while the Daily Variety reviewer called the picture "one of the screen's immortals, destined to leave its mark at the box office as well as on the scrolls of critical praise." According to a February 1943 M-G-M publicity item, Production Code of America director Joseph I. Breen declared the film "the greatest motion picture we have ever seen." Reportedly, "The Human Comedy" was Louis B. Mayer's favorite film. "The Human Comedy" was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Actor (Mickey Rooney), Best Director and Best Cinematography (black and white). Saroyan won the Oscar for Best Writing (Original Story). In addition, the film earned one of the Motion Picture Research Bureau's best audience ratings, and was named the best film of 1943 by the Canadian Department of National Defense.


 
 Posted:   Dec 5, 2011 - 10:51 PM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

Has anyone seen the new DVD of HUMAN COMEDY? Supposedly from nitrate.

 
 Posted:   Apr 7, 2014 - 3:31 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Hello Zelig. Have always enjoyed this highly sentimental film, and the scene of the hardest telegram Mickey Rooney's character ever has to deliver... to a woman who's son has been killed in the war. Some may scoff at the sentimentality but this is a classic film.

Upon learning of Mickey Rooney's death, this is the scene that immediately came to mind.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 7, 2014 - 3:52 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

Hello Zelig. Have always enjoyed this highly sentimental film, and the scene of the hardest telegram Mickey Rooney's character ever has to deliver... to a woman who's son has been killed in the war. Some may scoff at the sentimentality but this is a classic film.

Upon learning of Mickey Rooney's death, this is the scene that immediately came to mind.




In the 6-hour documentary history of MGM Studios, MGM: WHEN THE LION ROARS, Van Johnson, being interviewed about his career, talks about this film. He plays Rooney's older brother, Marcus, who is away in the war. At one point during this segment, Johnson breaks down on camera in describing Rooney's terrific performance when he finds out that Marcus has been killed. It is touching and interesting to see how much Johnson remains wrapped up in the emotional incidents of the film nearly 50 years after its shooting, and in awe of Rooney's acting gifts.

 
 Posted:   Apr 9, 2014 - 2:04 PM   
 By:   gsteven   (Member)

One of my favorite films; I watch it often. Gee, I wish the Stothart score could make it to CD. The next time you watch this, notice how many of the characters (major, minor and bit parts) break into song! Despite the war-time setting (and because of it in the above mentioned, memorable scene) this element of optimism and nostalgia contribute a lot to the film's impact.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 9, 2014 - 2:45 PM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

Hello Zelig. Have always enjoyed this highly sentimental film, and the scene of the hardest telegram Mickey Rooney's character ever has to deliver... to a woman who's son has been killed in the war. Some may scoff at the sentimentality but this is a classic film.

Upon learning of Mickey Rooney's death, this is the scene that immediately came to mind.




In the 6-hour documentary history of MGM Studios, MGM: WHEN THE LION ROARS, Van Johnson, being interviewed about his career, talks about this film. He plays Rooney's older brother, Marcus, who is away in the war. At one point during this segment, Johnson breaks down on camera in describing Rooney's terrific performance when he finds out that Marcus has been killed. It is touching and interesting to see how much Johnson remains wrapped up in the emotional incidents of the film nearly 50 years after its shooting, and in awe of Rooney's acting gifts.



By sheer coincidence, I viewed the film last night as a personal tribute to Mickey Rooney and, because it's one of my favorite films, I never tire of it. I was actually racking my brain trying to remember WHERE I'd seen Van Johnson breaking down and crying as he's remembering in retelling (some interviewer) that scene. Thank you for mentioning 'When The Lion Roars' I must have seen that documentary at some point, but I do remember Johnson seriously breaking down on camera as he recalled the scene. The music by Herbert Stothart is very moving. I'm not so sure how it would be 'standing alone' from the film though, but I'd certainly be willing to buy a copy should it ever be released.
The scene where Mickey Rooney has to deliver the telegram from The Government informing the widow, Mrs. Sandoval that her son's been killed in action - just tears my heart out.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 9, 2014 - 3:32 PM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

Has anyone seen the new DVD of HUMAN COMEDY? Supposedly from nitrate.


I don't know if the copy I purchased is this or not. I bought mine from The Warner Store which sold it through Amazon. It was one of those 'made upon demand', or whatever you call it. I can say that for a 1943 Film, it looks pretty damn good and Harry Stradling's Black & White Cinematography looks excellent, particularly the night scenes and the scene near the end where Mickey Rooney and his boss play a game or two of 'Horseshoes' and we see the setting go from almost dusk to much later at night.

 
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