Monday, March 22, 2010

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

From the novel by Betty Smith, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is seen through the eyes of a young girl who is part of the Nolan family living in the NYC burrough. Beset by the hardships of poverty, the family is kept together by their genteel yet protective mother. Along the way the family deals with the troubles of their father, the many trysts of their aunt, and the day-to-day travails associated with poverty. Throughout all of this, young Francie dreams of a better tomorrow which she hopes to achieve by way of her education. Peggy Ann Garner shines as the young girl in what could have been a disastrous role. Dorothy McGuire and Joan Blondell are solid as the protective mother and her floozy sister whose multiple marriages are neighborhood gossip. James Dunn won an Oscar for his work as the father, unemployed and alcholic, yet still beloved by his family. This was legendary and controversial director Elia Kazan's first film and his prowess was already eminent as he gracefully films this tale of one family's hardships. Though the film tends to sink into that type of melodrama that was prevalent in many of the films from this time, it is a pleasure to watch such fine acting and the work of a young director at the outset of a brilliant career.