This essay is reprinted courtesy S.T. Karnick:
Turner Classic Movies presents a grand total of two Hollywood movies about the dangers of international communism (and Communism) Wednesday night beginning at 8 EST. Will host Robert Osborne be as sympathetic to these films as he has always been toward anti-anticommunist movies? Not bloody likely.
Leo McCarey's My Son John (1952) has been uniformly lambasted by mainstream critics since the day it was released—because the villains are Communists. Yet Martin Scorsese, a smart cineaste and certainly no rabid anti-communist, classed the film among his all-time favorites and wrote very sympathetically and understandingly about it. It's actually a highly interesting film, and well worth watching, very much in the style of McCarey's other non-comedy films of the 1930s and '40s, such as Love Affair and Going My Way.
This clip (although of poor visual quality) gives a good sense of the film's style and quality:
Tune in and decide for yourself. I've seen My Son John, and the critical reception toward it has been absurdly dismissive of this heartfelt and very absorbing film. Had it been pro-Communist, I'm certain the reception would have been the very opposite, given that so many weak and inane films (such as The Front) have been falsely praised as courageous and brilliant.
-- S. T. Karnick
S. T. Karnick edits The American Culture, where this article first appeared.
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