A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Reviews

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March 11, 2017
Brooklyn, New York, early 1900s. The Nolans are a poor working class family. Father Johnny is a singing waiter, working whenever he can, though his alcoholism often depletes their meager finances. Mother Katie is a maid. Street-smart children Francie and Neeley do what they can to help out. Francie's intelligence and talents as a writer are her and her family's way out of poverty, but the sacrifices required may be great...

Based on Betty Smith's novel, an incredibly engaging story from master-director Elia Kazan. The bleakness and seemingly dead-endedness of the Nolan's existence, the family bonds, the things the parents do to help their kids advance, the idea that you're not limited by your parents socioeconomic level (The American Dream), all these add up to a very emotional and profound journey. A highly thought-provoking and quite accurate depiction of society.

Great performances aid Kazan's direction. James Dunn won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Johnny but the whole cast deliver in spades.

Unfortunately, the only other Oscar nomination the movie received was for Best Screenplay (which it didn't win). No Best Picture nomination, though it was a very good year for movies. Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend won the Oscar from a list of nominees that included Mildred Pierce and Spellbound.
March 4, 2017
A feel good tribute to the great book.
½ October 24, 2016
I loved the book and found the story of Irish immigrant life in depression era to be profound and well told. In contrast, I did not love this movie and although it generally accurately portrayed scenes from the book, I felt it lacked every aspect that made the book so compelling. I didn't feel like Francie or the father were cast the way I think the book depicts them and found them both lacking - the father was not as handsome or charming as the book's father -in fact I simply couldn't suspend my disbelief that I was supposed to imagine his character as winning so many people over despite his being a drunken failure, and he was far too much older than the wife to believe they had fallen in love as teenagers together 12 years earlier - the mother was correctly portrayed by a 30 year old actress while the father portrayed by a 45 year old actor. A different actor might have pulled the part off far better. I also wasn't so sure that the author had intended Francie to be depicted by such a breathy shy mouse of a girl, though she was probably closer to the target than the father.

All in all, the book was great, this movie did not become great merely by showing some scenes from a great book, and I didn't think the movie stood on its own. Without having already read and loved the book, I would have been too bored to continue past the first 20 minutes. As it was, I stuck it out waiting and hoping it would grow on me at least for the sake of having a visual representation of one of my favorite books, but it didn't and I turned it off about 3/4 of the way through.
September 14, 2015
beautiful movie ,with a bitter sweet feeling ending !!!!!
August 14, 2015
Excellent family movie of a tormented father
½ July 26, 2015
Wonderful adaption of the celebrated novel by Betty Smith. The performances are flawless. I love how the film hits an emotional cord that rings true today as much as it did by then. James Dunn won the Oscar for his tragic performance.
July 10, 2015
Not the arboriculture-in-urban environment documentary that I was expecting. Ha Ha. Actually - despite knowing this as the title of a classic book for decades - I had no idea what to expect. But I loved this film. Poverty porn, yes, a bit. But what it is most is a poignant, sensitive look at the tenacity of a really nice family, under pressure. That's a pretty universal thing. The film's episodic but wonderfully evocative of time and place. It's also sentimental, but not preachy...but I guess it does espouse that the only way to survive is through common sense and hard work...yet hopefully not as the expense of romanticism and fun, and hope. And of course kindness.
May 14, 2015
July 31, 2014
Grim yet determined, touching and tender without being treacly Elia Kazan's first time behind-the-camera hits a home run. The entire cast is gold though Joan Blondell & James Dunn steals the film effortlessly. You gotta have this for your film collection.
½ November 12, 2013
Say what, you want...but, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn..is one of the best film's ever made. I've seen it a dozen or more times and it gets better every time, I watch it.
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2013
Flying under the radar, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a great Kazan film. Putting aside the snitch tendencies off the screen, the tale of the family in a Brooklyn tenement is particularly dark in a tremendous way.
February 2, 2013
Heartbreaking adaptation of one of my favorite books. Sentimental without being sappy, and filmed in gorgeous black and white. The biggest revelation was Joan Blondell and Aunt Sissy. I had no idea she was such a good actress.
½ January 13, 2013
Most boring movie ever.
December 27, 2012
One of my all time favorite classics
December 11, 2012
Nowhere near the book...but great on its own as a movie. :)
November 26, 2012
He took the time to make a lot of people love him.

A poor family in Brooklyn is raised by their strong mother and carefree father. Their father struggles to find work but always seems to find friends, drinks, and a way home with no more money than when he left. His children love him to death but his wife is starting to get frustrated with his antics. Can the family survive or will the mother breakup the family in hopes of teaching the father a lesson?

"She'll never have the hard times we had."
"She'll never have half the fun either."

Elia Kazan, director of On the Waterfront, A Street Car Named Desire, East of Eden, A Gentleman's Agreement, Splendor in the Grass, A Face in the Crowd, and Wild River, delivers A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The storyline for this movie is amazing and a coming of age tale told from a wonderful perspective. The acting was brilliant and the cast delivers wonderful performances. The cast includes James Gleason, Lloyd Nolan, Joan Blodell, and Dorothy McGuire.

"She can't be papa to me. Not ever."

I came across this movie while reviewing the Turner Classic Movie (TCM) schedule. I am a fan of Elia Kazan pictures and found this film to be another impressive mark on his resume. This film is perfect and the evolution of each character is beautiful and unfolds perfectly. I strongly recommend seeing this gem.

"He would have bought you dolls instead of milk."

Grade: A
November 6, 2012
I loved this movie when, I loved this movie again, and I loved watching this film tonight Election night. Treat yourself to a time when things mattered and had real meaning. Gorgeous script, tremendous acting - a joy.
November 6, 2012
james dunn makes a come back here= academy award
May 24, 2012
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is my favorite book, and this movie is the best potrayal of the book.
May 21, 2012
Peggy Ann Garner is terrific as Francie Nolan. Too bad it only cover half the book. My only criticism is that James Dunn, although he does fine job as Francie's feckless father, he is too old to play the part.
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