These Wilder Years

Overview

The MGM melodrama These Wilder Years marked the first onscreen pairing of Hollywood stars James Cagney and Barbara Stanwyck. Lonely middle-aged businessman Steve Bradford (Cagney) returns to his old town in hopes of finding the son he fathered 20 years earlier. Choosing his career over marriage and family, he got a girl pregnant and she gave the baby up for adoption. He goes to an orphanage ran by Ann Dempster (Barbara Stanwyck) to find out information about his son. They are attracted to each other, but she ...
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Overview

The MGM melodrama These Wilder Years marked the first onscreen pairing of Hollywood stars James Cagney and Barbara Stanwyck. Lonely middle-aged businessman Steve Bradford (Cagney) returns to his old town in hopes of finding the son he fathered 20 years earlier. Choosing his career over marriage and family, he got a girl pregnant and she gave the baby up for adoption. He goes to an orphanage ran by Ann Dempster (Barbara Stanwyck) to find out information about his son. They are attracted to each other, but she refuses to release the confidential files that could help him. He hires a lawyer, James Rayburn (Walter Pigeon), and proceeds to sue the adoption agency. Though he loses the case in the climactic courtroom scene, Steve ends up finding his son on his own, but he decides it's too late to forge a relationship. Instead, Ann introduces him to pregnant teenager Suzie (Betty Lou Keim), who needs his help.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
These Wilder Years is a fairly typical 1950s tearjerker, a Douglas Sirk film without Sirk's strangely appealing directorial hand to guide it. Director Roy Rowland's approach is workmanlike and reasonably effective, but it cannot transform the material the way that Sirk could when at his best. Frank Fenton's screenplay is manipulative to the extreme, and strangely cold -- perhaps because its "heart" is so clearly made of plastic. The dialogue is tired and boring; there are hardly any scenes in which the big moments aren't telegraphed well in advance, and there are precious few twists to keep the material interesting. What Wilder does have, fortunately, is a pair of sterling performances from the wonderful James Cagney and the glorious Barbara Stanwyck. While both actors display the strength and stubbornness that are their hallmarks, they also both get to display their vulnerability; Cagney, in particular, is touching and appealing without ever losing his edge. He even makes the most maudlin of the scenes work, and there's an undeniable chemistry between the two stars that carries the film through any number of rough patches. With anyone else, Wilder would be a bore; with these two, it's got just enough star power to keep the viewer's hands away from the remote.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/28/2012
  • UPC: 883316618509
  • Original Release: 1956
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 41,518

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Cagney Steve Bradford
Barbara Stanwyck Ann Dempster
Walter Pidgeon James Rayburn
Betty Lou Keim Suzie Keller
Don Dubbins Mark
Edward Andrews Mr. Spottsford
Basil Ruysdael Judge
Grandon Rhodes Roy Oliphant
Will Wright Old Cab Driver
Lewis Martin Dr. Miller
Dorothy Adams Aunt Martha
Dean Jones Hardware Clerk
Herb Vigran Traffic Cop
Nesdon Booth
Don Burnett
Jimmy Hayes Young Reporter
Charles Herbert
Mary Ellen Hokanson
Edna Holland
Lois Kimbrell
Mary Lawrence
Burt Mustin
James Ogg Ad Lib Boy
Marc Platt
Audrey Swanson Saleslady
Charles Tannen
Sid Tomack Jess, the Bartender
Louis Towers
Leon Tyler Student Secretary
Billy Wayne
Ralph Neff
Frank Connor
Janet Lake
Bob Alden Bellhop
Elizabeth Flournoy Secretary
Tom Laughlin Football player
Luana Lee Stenographer
Ruth Lee Miss Finch
John Maxwell Board of Directors Member
Matt Moore Gateman
Kathleen Mulqueen Prim lady
Russell Simpson Farmer
Harry Tyler Doorman
Emmett Vogan Board of Directors Member
Charles Evans Board of Directors Member
William Forrest Board of Directors Member
Jack Kenny Chauffeur
Michael Landon Boy in Pool Room
Technical Credits
Roy Rowland Director
Jeff Alexander Score Composer
Preston Ames Art Director
Edward Boyle Set Decoration/Design
Frank Fenton Screenwriter
George Folsey Cinematographer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Al Jennings Asst. Director
Ben Lewis Editor
Wesley C. Miller Sound/Sound Designer
Helen Rose Costumes/Costume Designer
Jules Schermer Producer
William J. Tuttle Makeup
Ralph Wheelwright Original Story
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
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