AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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In His Steps
Alternate Title: Sins of Children
Director: Karl Brown (Dir)
Release Date:   22 Sep 1936
Duration (in mins):   78, 79.5-80
Duration (in feet):   7,355
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Eric Linden (Tom Carver)  
    Cecilia Parker (Ruth Brewster)  
    Harry Beresford (Davidson)  
    Clara Blandick (Martha Adams)  
    Roger Imhof (Mack Adams)  
    Olive Tell (Elaine Brewster)  
    Henry Kolker (Calvin Carver)  
    Charles Richman (Robert Brewster)  
    Robert Warwick (Judge Grey)  
    Warner Richmond (Gavin)  
    Stanley Andrews (Broderick)  
    Donald Kirke (Reynard)  
    Richard Tucker (Assisting judge)  
    Aggie Herring (Cook)  

Summary: Tom Carver and Ruth Brewster, children of neighboring business rivals Calvin Carver and Robert Brewster, fall in love but, because of their parents' feud, are unable to marry. Carver's superintendent, Davidson, a deeply religious man, becomes Tom's confidant and helps them elope. Although Ruth is underage, Davidson's country preacher friend, Mack Adams, marries them and offers them refuge on his farm. Weeks pass and Davidson tells Mrs. Brewster that the couple is safe but refuses to disclose their whereabouts and is arrested. Tom steps forward to clear his friend and is tried for kidnapping Ruth. Carver hopes to pin the blame on the "religious fanatic" Davidson, but Tom refuses to betray his friend. The judge asks that the families settle the affair amicably, but Mrs. Brewster demands Tom be punished to the letter of the law. Adams, indignant at the court's vilification of Davidson, risks contempt by testifying that Davidson was following the steps of Christ. He impresses the judge, who offers to suspend sentence if the couple splits indefinitely. Tom then tells the judge that he will not make a promise he cannot keep, that he loves Ruth and wants her to remain his wife. The judge is forced to sentence him to prison. Carver comes forward and takes the blame for Tom's marriage, but accuses Brewster of bringing the charges for his personal revenge. The youngsters' courage and Davidson's spiritual devotion eventually cause the parents to become reconciled. The case is dismissed, and Tom and Ruth return to the farm with Adams. 

Production Company: B. F. Zeidman Productions, Ltd.  
  Grand National Films, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Grand National Films, Inc.  
Director: Karl Brown (Dir)
  Jack Cosgrove (Asst dir)
Producer: Edward L. Alperson (Pres)
  B. F. Zeidman (Prod)
  Hal Lewis (Supv)
Writer: Karl Brown (Scr)
  Hinton Smith (Addl dial)
Photography: Harry Jackson (Photog)
Art Direction: Edward Jewell (Art dir)
Film Editor: Edward Schroeder (Ed)
  Duncan Mansfield (Ed)
Music: Abe Meyer (Mus supv)
Sound: Earl Sitar (Sd)
Special Effects: Jack Cosgrove (Spec eff)
Production Misc: Hal Lewis (Prod mgr)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the novel In His Steps: "What Would Jesus Do?" by Dr. Charles Monroe Sheldon (New York, 1896).
Authors: Dr. Charles Monroe Sheldon

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Grand National Films, Inc. 22/9/1936 dd/mm/yyyy LP6691
Grand National Films, Inc. 22/9/1936 dd/mm/yyyy LP7024

PCA NO: 2560
Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Religious
Subjects (Major): Christianity
  Family relationships
Subjects (Minor): Business competition
  False arrests
  Moral reformation

Note: This film's title was changed from In His Steps to Sins of the Children on 12 Jul 1937. Some ads and reviews refer to the title as Sins of Children . The film was also copyrighted under the title Sins of the Children . This was Grand National Pictures' first film. Eric Linden and Cecilia Parker, a young romantic team at M-G-M, were borrowed for this film. As reported in DV on 28 Sep 1936, the film's premiere was scheduled for Topeka, KS, author Dr. Charles Monroe Sheldon's home town. According to a 4 Jan 1937 HR news item, the film's box-office profits doubled after it was re-released under the new title. Sheldon's novel reportedly sold a total of twenty million copies in the United States and England, but the story became public domain after its first publication. An article in NYT on 17 Apr 1938 reported that the Federal Trade Commission brought misrepresentation charges against Grand National for its adaptation of Sheldon's novel. The article states, "The studio is accused of misleading the public and exhibitors by filming a yarn that has no relation to the original." The article further states that "protests over the distortion of [Sheldon's] story began to be heard over a year ago, at which time the title was changed to Sins of the Children . A short time later the distributors reverted to the original title." According to HR , in Aug 1936, Grand National closed a deal with Grosset and Dunlap for a motion picture tie-up edition of In His Steps that guaranteed royalties to Sheldon. Sheldon's novel was the partial basis of the 1916 Thomas A. Edison film The Martyrdom of Philip Strong , directed by Richard Ridgely and starring Robert Conness and Mabel Trunnelle (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.2854). Although Franklin Pangborn was listed in an early HR production chart, he is not included in any other cast lists and may not have appeared in the film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   11 Sep 36   p. 3.
Daily Variety   28 Sep 36   p. 6.
The Exhibitor   1-Oct-36   
Film Daily   22-Sep-36   
Film Daily   2 Oct 36   pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Aug 36   p.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Aug 36   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Sep 36   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Oct 36   pp. 4, 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Jan 37   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   12 Sep 36   p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily   3 Oct 36   pp. 68-69.
Motion Picture Herald   19 Sep 36   p. 48.
New York Times   29 Oct 36   p. 31.
New York Times   17-Apr-38   
Variety   4 Nov 36   p. 19.

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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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