Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Kings Row" with Ronald Reagan, Bob Cummings and Ann Sheridan

Put aside your political leanings for an hour or so and watch one of the greatest films ever made. No kidding. Anyone who claims that Ronald Reagan couldn't act has never seen this film. In it, he portrays the scion of a well to do family who falls in love with a girl from the other side of the tracks. All throughout the film he is accompanied, and later comforted, by his best friend, played with great emotion by Robert Cummings.

The story centers around five different children a small railroad town, which, as in most railroad towns, is composed of two sides of the track. One is well to do, while the other side is composed of the very people that make the town work. The blue collar side. The story is set around the turn of the century in 1900.

Parris Mitchell (Bob Cummings) and Drake McHugh (Ronald Reagan) are the best of friends, both have lost a parent and their bond with one another is unbreakable. Parris dreams of studying medicine under the guidance of Dr.Tower (Claude Rains)who is also the father of Cassie, the object of Parris' affections.

Drake plans to go into business when he receives his full inheritance. Until then, he is somewhat of the town playboy, squiring his lady friends about town, much to the dismay of some of the more "proper" citizens. In short, he is not well liked, though he is likeable.

When Parris moves to Vienna to study psychiatry, Drake is left at home, pursuing his many lady friends before finally falling in love with the daughter of the town's other physician, Dr. Gordon (Charles Coburn) who does not approve of the match. When Drake suffers a horrible railroad accident, Dr. Gordon amputates Drake's leg without cause, assuring that he will not marry his daughter. The scene in which Drake awakens after the amputation is one of the finest pieces of acting ever recorded, as Drake realizes what has happened and screams out, "Where's the rest of me!?" This line would go on to serve as the title of Ronald Reagan's first auto-biography.

As the movie plays out, the secrets of the town are uncovered one by one, and a portrait of a small American town is changed forever. As for just what happens to the two friends, Parris and Drake, as well as the women they love, you will have to watch this stunning film to find out.

The movie garnered 2 Oscar Nominations, one for Sam Wood as Best Director, and the other for Hal B. Wallis of Warner Brothers, for Best Picture. If you are a film buff and have never seen this film, you are missing an absolute classic.

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