AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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All My Sons
Director: Irving Reis (Dir)
Release Date:   Apr 1948
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 27 Mar 1948
Production Date:   early Oct--mid-Nov 1947
Duration (in mins):   93-94
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Edward G. Robinson (Joe Keller)  
    Burt Lancaster (Chris Keller)  
    Mady Christians (Kate Keller)  
    Louisa Horton (Ann Deever)  
    Howard Duff (George Deever)  
    Frank Conroy (Herbert Deever)  
    Lloyd Gough (Jim Bayless)  
    Arlene Francis (Sue Bayless)  
    Henry ["Harry"] Morgan (Frank Lubey)  
    Elisabeth Fraser (Lydia Lubey)  
    Walter Soderling (Charles)  
    Therese Lyon (Minnie)  
    Charles Meredith (Ellsworth)  
    William Johnstone (Attorney)  
    Herbert Vigran (Wertheimer)  
    Harry Harvey (Judge)  
    Pat Flaherty (Bartender)  
    George Sorel (Headwaiter)  
    Helen Brown (Mrs. Hamilton)  
    Herbert Haywood (McGraw)  
    Joseph Kerr (Norton)  
    Jerry Hausner (Halliday)  
    Frank Kreig (Foreman)  
    William Ruhl (Ed)  
    Al Murphy (Tom)  
    Walter Bonn (Jorgenson)  
    Victor Zimmerman (Attendant)  
    George Slocum (Attendant)  
    Richard La Marr (Bill)  
    Jack Gargan (Workman)  
    Howard Mitchell    
    Bob Perry    
    Margaret Bert    
    Peggy Leon    

Summary: Soon after returning home from the war, Chris Keller confides in his father Joe that he intends to marry childhood friend Ann Deever and move to Chicago. Joe, the self-made head of a successful manufacturing firm, is hurt by this revelation, as he intended for Chris to eventually take over management of the factory. He is also concerned that Chris's mother Kate will take the news badly, as Ann was engaged to Chris's older brother Larry, who was declared missing during the war and is presumed dead, a fact Kate refuses to accept. When Ann arrives that afternoon from Chicago, several of the Kellers' neighbors inquire about her father Herbert, Joe's former business partner, who is in jail. During the war, Joe and Herb's factory shipped out defective airplane parts, which caused twenty-one Army planes to crash in the Pacific. Joe was acquitted, but Herb was found guilty of authorizing the shipment, knowing that the parts were defective. That evening, Joe takes the family to dinner to celebrate Ann's return, but their meal is interrupted by Mrs. Hamilton, a war widow, who drunkenly calls Joe a murderer. Back home, Joe berates Ann for moving away and not facing her father's guilt and she admits she stopped writing Herb after finding out about Larry's death. Later, Chris and Ann take a drive together and when Chris proposes, Ann accepts, while expressing concern over Kate's reaction. During their absence, Ann's brother George, an attorney, telephones her after visiting Herb. Joe and Kate worry about the call, as Herb has always maintained that Joe was to blame for shipping the defective parts. The next day, Ann discovers George is at the train station and Kate fears he has found some reason to reopen the trial against Joe. When Ann goes to pick up George, a neighbor, Sue Bayless, remarks to Chris that the whole town believes Joe outsmarted Herb and considers him guilty. Chris is stunned as he has never doubted his father's version of events. When George arrives, he demands that Ann return with him and refuses to approve her marrying Chris. George is now convinced that Joe lied and that Herb is innocent but Kate reminds him of the long friendship between the two families and persuades him to stay to dinner. During the meal, Joe recalls that Herb always had difficulty accepting responsibility and chronicles his own life-long dedication to hard work. When Joe boasts that he has never so much as been out sick a day, George asks him about the one day Joe did not come to the factory, the day the defective equipment was shipped. As Joe hesitates, Chris begins to doubt his father for the first time. Infuriated that Joe and Kate have tried to dissuade him from believing in his father's innocence, George storms out and Ann goes with him, despite Chris's protests. Upset by the events, Chris visits Herb in jail and at his request, Herb relates the events leading up to the day of the shipment: After receiving important government war contracts, Joe has the factory running twenty-four hours a day and, to further expedite production, cuts down on the quality of the materials. Only after the bulk of the cylinders is complete, do tests reveal the steel as too fine and unable to perform adequately. When Herb informs Joe, he protests that they are obligated to fulfill their contracts and that fixing the process will bankrupt the company. If any problems result, Joe explains, they can claim to be unaware of the defect. The following day Joe calls in sick and when the Army representatives demand their shipments, Herb telephones for instructions. Joe tells him to make the shipment and that he will assume responsibility. Herb authorizes the shipment but at the trial Joe refutes his claim. Back at the Kellers', Ann returns to inform Kate that she intends to marry Chris. Kate insists that Ann has no right as there is no proof of Larry's death, but Ann presents her with a letter from Larry written just before his final mission. After reading the letter, Kate breaks down and pleads with Ann not to show it to Joe. Meanwhile, Chris leaves the jail to pick up Joe from his weekly card game. Afterward, Chris presses his father to explain Herb's chronicle and Joe states that he had no recourse but to make the shipment, as the entire family fortune which he had spent his life amassing, was tied up in the company. Distraught, Chris strikes Joe and flees. Later that night, as Kate and Joe sit waiting for Chris to return, Kate pleads with Joe to admit his error. Joe insists his actions were justified because he was protecting his family. Ann, searching for Chris, finds him at the place where he proposed and he admits Joe's guilt but maintains that his father truly does not understand the impact of his actions. Ann then gives Chris Larry's letter, and after reading it, Chris returns home to confront his father. When Chris begins reading the letter out loud to Joe, Kate tries in vain to intercede. The letter describes how Larry read news accounts of the factory's faulty equipment, the resulting Army Air force deaths and Joe and Herb's trial. He finds Joe's betrayal unbearable and in shame intends to make sure he does not return from his next mission. Joe admits that he always knew his guilt included Larry's death, and now realizes that all those who died were equally his sons. He retreats to his room and shoots himself. A few days later, Chris and Ann depart for Chicago with Kate's blessing. 

Production Company: Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.  
Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Company, Inc.  
Director: Irving Reis (Dir)
  Frank Shaw (Asst dir)
Producer: Chester Erskine (Prod)
Writer: Chester Erskine (Wrt)
Photography: Russell Metty (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Bernard Herzbrun (Art dir)
  Hilyard Brown (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ralph Dawson (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Russell A. Gausman (Set dec)
  Al Fields (Set dec)
Costumes: Grace Houston (Gowns)
Music: Leith Stevens (Mus)
  David Tamkin (Orch)
Sound: Leslie I. Carey (Sd)
  Corson Jowett (Sd)
Special Effects: David S. Horsley (Spec photog)
Make Up: Carmen Dirigo (Hairstylist)
  Bud Westmore (Makeup)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the play All My Sons by Arthur Miller as produced by Harold Clurman, Elia Kazan, Walter Fried and Herbert Harris (New York, 29 Jan 1947).
Authors: Herbert Harris
  Walter Fried
  Elia Kazan
  Harold Clurman
  Arthur Miller

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Co., Inc. 8/6/1948 dd/mm/yyyy LP1917

PCA NO: 12897
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Postwar life
 
Subjects (Major): Betrayal
  Duplicity
  Family relationships
  Fathers and sons
  Guilt
  Self-made men
 
Subjects (Minor): Aircraft industry
  Engagements
  Gambling
  Letters
  Marriage
  Missing in action
  Neighbors
  Prisons
  Profiteering
  Suicide
  Trials
  Veterans
  World War II

Note: Stage actress Louisa Horton made her screen debut in All My Sons . According to a HR news item, the film was to be shot on location in Santa Rosa, CA but poor weather forced the production to recreate much of the outdoor scenery on a soundstage. Production notes indicate that the Western Stove Company in Culver City, CA doubled as "Joe Keller's" plant and factory workers appeared in the film handling the heavy equipment. As noted in the film's onscreen credits, the original play was awarded the New York Critics Circle prize for the 1946-47 season. Burt Lancaster recreated his role as "Chris Keller" on a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 1 May 1950. All My Sons was also broadcast on the Screen Directors Playhouse radio program on 2 Dec 1949. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   28 Feb 1948.   
Daily Variety   19 Feb 48   p. 3, 16
Film Daily   19 Feb 48   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Oct 47   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Nov 47   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Feb 48   p. 3, 10
Hollywood Reporter   24 Feb 48   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Mar 48   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Apr 48   p. 17.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   10 Jan 48   p. 4010.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   21 Feb 48   p. 4065.
New York Times   29 Mar 48   p. 17.
Variety   25 Feb 48   p. 8.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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