My Son John (1952)



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Movie Info

Filled with the kind of Red Scare propaganda that must have delighted members of McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee, this drama chronicles the attempts of two All-American parents to save their son from the temptations of Communism. Unfortunately, they are too late. The arrogant and intellectual young man, a worker in a federal agency, returns home from a long absence spouting pro-Ruskie doctrine and deriding the beliefs of capitalism and US at every opportunity. Enraged at his son's mocking ways, he beans him with the family bible. Things get worse when an FBI agent shows up to tell the horrified parents that their son is an enemy spy. The mother blows a gasket and flies to Washington, DC where her son works to make him swear on the same book that the FBI agent is wrong. The son does so, but its a lie. The mother soon finds this out. She also learns that her treacherous son's girlfriend is a Commie. What's a mother to do? Fortunately, before it is too late, her son realizes the error of his ways and tries to double-cross his Pinko superiors. Unfortunately, it is too late and they shoot him and just before he gaspingly dies upon the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he tapes his final confession and gives American youth everywhere a potent message about honor. The star of the film, Walker, best remembered for his gripping portrayal of a psychopath in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, died before production finished and so scenes from that film were spliced into My Son, John.

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Helen Hayes
as Lucille Jefferson
Van Heflin
as Stedman of the FBI
Robert Walker
as John Jefferson
Dean Jagger
as Dan Jefferson
Minor Watson
as Dr. Carver
Frank McHugh
as Fr. O'Dowd
Richard Jaeckel
as Chuck Jefferson
James Young
as Ben Jefferson
Todd Karns
as Bedford
Frances Morris
as Secretary
Douglas Evans
as Government Employee
Gail Bonney
as Jail Matron
William McLean
as Parcel Post Man
Irene Winston
as Ruth Carlin
David Newell
as FBI Agent
Erskine Sanford
as Professor
David Bond
as College Professor
Eghiche Harout
as College Professor
Jimmie Dundee
as Taxi Driver
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Critic Reviews for My Son John

All Critics (5)

Paranoiac emotionally overwrought Red Menace drama.

Nov 3, 2012 | Rating: B | Full Review…

The movie is swathed in very thoughtful shades of gray almost throughout.

Aug 29, 2012 | Full Review…

Leo McCarey's sociopolitical hysterectomy finally hits home video in a Blu-ray that appears downright ashamed of its contents.

Aug 21, 2012 | Full Review…

Leo McCarey (better known for his screwball comedies) has made an agit-prop, an overtly political film that reflects the fear and paranoia generated by McCarthy in the 1950s.

Apr 15, 2011 | Rating: C | Full Review…

Robin Wood has written about how McCarey loves romantic couples but seems to loathe families, and this point is borne out most harrowingly in My Son John, the skeleton film in his closet, and one of the most personally revealing.

Feb 23, 2011 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for My Son John


Somewhat paranoic drama looking at the perceived communist threat in the 40's and 50's. Overwrought in both direction and performance-Helen Hayes in particular seems on the very verge throughtout the film. Walker died suddenly during the making of the film and his performance was completed by cobbling together outtakes from Strangers on a Train and the use of a stand-in in some scenes, it's easy to pick out most of the those where this was done and it cast an odd pall over the picture. A strange experience.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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