Four Daughters (1938)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Fannie Hurst's Sister Act was the source for this money-making Warners weeper. The four daughters of the title are played by the Lane Sisters--Priscilla, Rosemary and Lola--and by Gale Page. All are musical prodigies, and all are daughters of master-musician Claude Rains. To help make ends meet, Rains rents several rooms of his home to boarders--most of whom, thanks to the dictates of the plot, seem to be marriageable men. We're supposed to care the most about the mutual attraction the daughters feel towards handsome Jeffrey Lynn, but the film really belongs to John Garfield, making his movie debut (no, he wasn't in 1933's Footlight Parade) as an embittered piano genius. Garfield has us in the palm of his scruffy hand the moment he begins philosophizing about "the fates:" "So they flipped a coin...heads he's poor, tails he's rich....they flipped a coin--with two heads." Aware that he can bring only unhappiness to Priscilla Lane, the daughter who cares most for him, Garfield obligingly drives into a heavy snowstorm and is killed in an auto accident (but it's not staged as a suicide, lest the Hays Office spank). John Garfield made so powerful an impression in Four Daughters that Warners was compelled to write him into the sequel Four Wives, first as a flashback and then as (implicitly) a ghost. Another film, Daughters Courageous, was hastily constructed using the same cast, but with different character names so as to accommodate a happier denouement for Garfield and Lane. Four Daughters was remade in 1954 as Young at Heart, with Frank Sinatra and Doris Day in the John Garfield and Priscilla Lane roles.
Classics , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts , Romance
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Written By:
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Warner Brothers

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Claude Rains
as Adam Lemp
Priscilla Lane
as Ann Lemp
John Garfield
as Mickey Borden
Rosemary Lane
as Kay Lemp
May Robson
as Aunt Etta
Lola Lane
as Thea Lemp
Gale Page
as Emma Lemp
Dick Foran
as Ernest
Jeffrey Lynn
as Felix Deitz
Frank McHugh
as Ben Crowley
Vera Lewis
as Mrs. Ridgefield
Tom Dugan
as Jake
Wilfred Lucas
as Doctor
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Critic Reviews for Four Daughters

All Critics (8)

A typical, sentimental small-town family melodrama of the 1930s, with one exception: John Garfield in a stunning screen debut as a brooding outsider.

Full Review… | March 9, 2011

Exemplary Warners hokum about sisters' romances

May 12, 2005
Film Journal International

Rains carries this Warner tugger

October 23, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

Superior, slickly made soaper with great stars.

May 23, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A surprisingly heartwarming, funny, and sad film that tugs on the heartstrings, but in a way that isn't maudlin or annoying.

Full Review… | February 15, 2004
Goatdog's Movies

Quote not available.

July 19, 2005

Audience Reviews for Four Daughters

Keep smiling, dad! The dean of a prestigious music organization has four beautiful daughters who are coming of age and share his affection of music; of course, their love is more for the current wave of music than the classics like their dad. All four girls support each other, but as they select boyfriends, it becomes quite apparent their lives are heading in separate directions. How will their upbringing impact their direction and can they stay a cohesive unit? "If one of my three sisters were a brother, you'd all have black eyes." Michael Curtiz, director of White Christmas, Mildred Pierce, Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, We're No Angels, Yankee Doodle Dandee, and Kid Galahad, delivers Four Daughters. The storyline for this picture is interesting because each daughter's story and direction are fascinating. The acting is also very good and the cast includes John Garfield, Claude Rains, May Robson, and Priscilla Lane. "It's homes like this that are the backbone of the nation." Four Daughters is a movie I DVR'd off Turner Classic Movies (TCM) because it was created by the legend Michael Curtiz. I found the film fun in a Little Women kind of way and it definitely contains dynamic and interesting characters. This isn't my favorite Michael Curtiz picture, but was definitely worth my time. I strongly recommend seeing this picture. "Scratch my name off your birth certificate." Grade: B

Kevin Robbins
Kevin Robbins

Good for its time period, Four Daughters is entertaining despite being overly sentimental.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

For the most part, this movie has a good story, but it has some predictable elements and boring scenes. Overall, an okay movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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