H.M. Pulham, Esq.

Overview

MGM was doing so well in 1941 that it could afford the occasional "prestige" film with little box-office appeal. Based on the novel by J.P. Marquand, H.M. Pulham, Esq., stars Robert Young as a successful but stuffy Boston businessman. The glimmer of sadness in Young's eyes indicates that his ascension to the top was not without its cost. In flashbacks, we see how Young considered changing the track his life was on in order to marry Hedy Lamarr. After marrying his wife, however, the man never strays. The film ...
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Overview

MGM was doing so well in 1941 that it could afford the occasional "prestige" film with little box-office appeal. Based on the novel by J.P. Marquand, H.M. Pulham, Esq., stars Robert Young as a successful but stuffy Boston businessman. The glimmer of sadness in Young's eyes indicates that his ascension to the top was not without its cost. In flashbacks, we see how Young considered changing the track his life was on in order to marry Hedy Lamarr. After marrying his wife, however, the man never strays. The film utilizes the Strange Interlude approach of interior monologues heard on the soundtrack, and anticipates Citizen Kane which hadn't yet been released when Pulham was filmed by building its entire narrative on the flashback structure. H.M. Pulham, Esq. contains what may well be Robert Young's best performance, though few filmgoers in 1941 were interested enough to see it.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
A melancholy, adult drama about the fear of living one's life to its fullest, H.M. Pulham, Esq. has a simple message that still rings true for many people. Pulham demonstrates that there's nothing sadder than the missed opportunity, and that far too many people are willing to settle for what is safe and comfortable rather than take a risk that could result in failure. Yet, as Pulham demonstrates until a somewhat inappropriate ending, settling for the safe and comfortable can be soul-deadening. It's a message that has been said before but that stands repeating, and Pulham makes its case in strong, dramatic terms again, until the ending, which dampens the impact a bit. The screenplay is sensitive yet strong, and King Vidor's direction emphasizes its points without belaboring them. Robert Young is excellent in a difficult role which requires him to be passive and yet still propel the story forward. Ruth Hussey is equally fine as his wife, a perfectly suitable woman who just doesn't happen to be the woman he loves. There's also good work from Charles Coburn and Van Heflin, but the top acting honors go to Hedy Lamarr. Never considered a great actress, Lamarr here proves that, in the right role and with the right direction, she was capable of truly impressive work. She displays a warmth and feeling that is often missing from her other performances and makes one understand why Young would fall so deeply in love with her. It's a truly lovely performance in a film that is a richly rewarding little gem.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/23/2009
  • UPC: 883316125458
  • Original Release: 1941
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: B&W / Pan & Scan
  • Time: 1:59:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 41,392

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Hedy Lamarr Marvin Myles
Robert Young Harry Pulham
Ruth Hussey Kay Motford Pulham
Charles Coburn Mr. Pulham, Sr.
Van Heflin Bill King
Fay Holden Mrs. Pulham
Bonita Granville Mary Pulham
Douglas Wood Mr. Bullard
Charles Halton Walter Kaufman
Phil Brown Joe Bingham
David Clyde Hugh the Butler
Sara Haden Miss Rollo
Harry Brown Charley Roberts
Bobby Cooper Harry as a Boy
Harry Crocker Bob Ridge
Earle Dewey Chris Evans
Leif Erickson Rodney "Bo-Jo" Brown
Frank Faylen Sergeant
Byron Foulger Curtis Cole
Arno Frey German Officer
Ava Gardner Girl
Connie Gilchrist Tillie
Walter Kingsford Skipper
Ottola Nesmith Mrs. Prindle
Douglass Newland Sam Green
John Raitt Soldier
Anne Revere Miss Redfern
Sid Saylor Preacher
Grant Withers Harvard Coach
Technical Credits
King Vidor Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Malcolm Brown Art Director
Jack Dawn Makeup
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Lennie Hayton Musical Direction/Supervision
Elizabeth Hill Screenwriter
Ray June Cinematographer
Robert Kalloch Costumes/Costume Designer
Bronislau Kaper Score Composer
Harold Kress Editor
Gile Steele Costumes/Costume Designer
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
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