Kings Row (1942) - Rotten Tomatoes

Kings Row (1942)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A seemingly quiet Midwestern town is the hiding place for a number of sordid secrets in this melodrama based on Henry Bellamann's best-selling novel. Parris Mitchell (Scotty Beckett) is a young boy growing up in the town of King's Row, where he becomes close friends with Cassandra (Mary Thomas), a quiet girl who isn't popular with the other children. Parris is also friends with Louise (Joan Duvalle), a rich girl who looks down on others; Drake (Douglas Croft), a good-natured but self-centered type; and Randy (Ann Todd), a girl with a wild tomboy streak. It's a testimony to Parris' character when Cassandra and Louise both invite him to parties on the same day and he decides to go to Cassandra's, because he's not sure who else might be there for her. However, his friendship with her begins to fade after her father, local psychiatrist Dr. Tower (Claude Rains), decides to withdraw her from public school and tutor her at home instead. Years later, Parris (now played by Robert Cummings) is a promising medical student studying psychiatry with Dr. Tower, and while he's stayed in contact with Cassandra (now played by Betty Field), she remains at a curious emotional distance from those around her. Randy (now played by Ann Sheridan) romances Drake (now played by Ronald Reagan), who has inherited a fortune and is living the high life to the fullest. However, Drake is also involved with Louise (Nancy Coleman), who is not allowed much of a social life by her father, Dr. Gordon (Charles Coburn), and she fears that the more outgoing Randy will steal Drake away from her. When Parris decides to travel to Europe to further his studies, Cassandra asks if she can join him; he's not keen on the idea, but he considers it. He is then shocked to learn that Cassandra has been killed by her father after he learned that she was with child, shortly before taking his own life. Drake, meanwhile, loses his money through a series of unfortunate circumstances and is forced to take a job with the railroad; when he is injured at work, he's taken to Dr. Gordon for treatment. However, the doctor never approved of Drake's romance with Louise and was even more upset when he decided to leave her for Randy; in retaliation, Dr. Gordon amputates Drake's legs, even though his condition in no way justified it. Meanwhile, Parris comes back from Europe and makes the acquaintance of a local resident, Dr. Sandor (Erwin Kalser), while becoming infatuated with his daughter, Elise (Kaaren Verne). He also learns of Dr. Gordon's shocking mutilation of Drake, who is determined to somehow live a normal life despite it all, with Randy by his side. Kings Row was nominated for three Academy Awards (including Best Picture of 1943), and is generally conceded to feature the best performance of Ronald Reagan's Hollywood career; he titled his autobiography Where's the Rest of Me?, after the key line of his most memorable (and challenging) scene in the picture.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Casey Robinson
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 15, 2006
Warner Home Video


Ronald Reagan
as Drake McHugh
Ann Sheridan
as Randy Monoghan
Robert Cummings
as Parris Mitchell
Charles Coburn
as Dr. Henry Gordon
Betty Field
as Cassandra Tower
Claude Rains
as Dr. Alexander Tower
Judith Anderson
as Mrs. Harriet Gordon
Nancy Coleman
as Louise Gordon
Kaaren Verne
as Elise Sandor
Maria Ouspenskaya
as Mme. Von Eln
Harry Davenport
as Col. Skeffington
Ernest Cossart
as Pa Monoghan
Pat Moriarity
as Tom Monoghan
Ilka Gruning
as Ann the Maid
Minor Watson
as Sam Winters
Ann E. Todd
as Randy, as a girl
Ludwig Stossel
as Dr. Berdoff
Erwin Kalser
as Mr. Sandor
Egon Brecher
as Dr. Candell
Ann Todd
as Randy as a Child
Douglas Wheat
as Drake as a Child
Scotty Beckett
as Parris as a Child
Mary Thomas
as Cassandra as a Child
Joan Duval
as Louise as a Child
Danny Jackson
as Benny Singer
Dan Jackson
as Benny Singer
Leah Baird
as Aunt Mamie
Eden Gray
as Mrs. Tower
Julie Warren
as Poppy Ross
Mary Scott
as Ginny Ross
Walter S. Baldwin
as Deputy Constable
Jack Mower
as Freight Conductor
Frank Mayo
as Conductor
Thomas W. Ross
as Patterson Lewes
Hank Mann
as Livery Stable Keeper
Fred Kelsey
as Bill Hockinson
Herbert Heywood
as Arnold Kelly
Emory Parnell
as Harley Davis
Douglas Croft
as Drake, as a boy
Hattie Noel
as Gordon's Maid
Hermine Sterler
as Secretary
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Kings Row

Critic Reviews for Kings Row

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The film that made the future President Reagan a movie star.

Full Review… | February 26, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Sam Wood's Oscar-nominated small-town tale is one of the darkest melodramas Hollywood made in the 1940s, full of neurotic personalities and perverse secrets.

Full Review… | December 19, 2006

Audience Reviews for Kings Row

Based on a dark, soapy bestselling novel, this is definitely one of Ronald Reagan's best performances, if not THE best. Like "Peyton Place", the original novel focused on the dark secrets underlying an outwardly nice, moral, family-oriented town. Unfortunately, unlike "Peyton Place," the subject matter had to be way watered down to get past the censors at the time this was made, leaving one of the key storylines - a doctor's incestuous relationship with his daughter - so vague that the first time I saw this film prior to reading the book, I didn't understand what was going on with that subplot. The other weird thing about this movie is that Kings Row manages to have not one, but TWO messed-up doctors: one's the aforementioned incest committer (played by Claude Rains) and the other (played by Charles Coburn) is a sadist who enjoys amputating limbs and wreaking vengeance on patients he doesn't like. Reagan plays "Drake", a dashing rich party-boy who falls victim to the sadistic doc but then manages to have a decent life thanks to the tender mercies of his childhood friend "Randy" (Ann Sheridan), the girl literally from the wrong side of the tracks. I thought Reagan and Sheridan pretty much carried the film, with the other main part, their friend "Parris" (Robert Cummings) finishing a very distant third. As someone else noted, the amputation theme was timely due to WWII even though this book is set in an earlier era. A decent soap opera for its time, but not quite as good as the book due to all the controversial (for then) issues that had to be presented very obliquely or left out entirely.. 5 Stars

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer


Good film could have been great with better male leads, the female stars are excellent though.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Reagan's leap to stardom through this? Well its okay. It's a bit too much like a soap opera but we have passable acting with neurotic folks throughout.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Kings Row Quotes

– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Kings Row on our Movie forum!