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Of Human Hearts

26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

19th century American family drama about a dedicated preacher who struggles to establish a rapport with his doctor son.

This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply.


Product Details

  • Actors: James Stewart, Beulah Bondi, Guy Kibbee, Charles Coburn, John Carradine Walter Huston
  • Directors: Clarence Brown
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Archive Collection
  • DVD Release Date: September 24, 2013
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00FEFOHF0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,035 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Michael Puckett on May 23, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The first time I watched this wonderful movie, I was only 10 years old and even at that tender age it touched my heart. This moving story of a selfish young boy who learns the hard way the importance of gratitude, is one of the lesser known classics, yet it has over the years become one of my personal favorites.
Filmed in 1938 at the height of Hollywood's golden age this Clarence Brown directed yarn contains a full measure of the sentimental charm that so characterized the historical dramas that were being produced at the time.
The story takes place shortly before the Civil War and centers on the young son of a poor country preacher who decides he wants to become a doctor much to his father's displeasure and his mother's secret approval. From the very beginning he is shown to be an ingrate, full of embarrassment and shame for the shabby living conditions and tattered hand-me-down clothes grudgingly provided to the family by the community in place of payment for his father's services as preacher. He is forever getting his sweet mother played by the great Bullah Bondi to sell off cherished family heirlooms to meet his selfish wants and with no appreciation at all for the sacrifice. As the years pass and he grows into manhood, the conflict between father and son becomes harsher by the day, until finally the two come to blows which pushes the son to leave town and pursue his dream of becoming a Doctor. He works his way through medical school by cleaning the headmaster's apartment, and with the continued sell-off of his mother's things but soon after entering medical school his father becomes ill and dies. Now his poor mother is left all alone to fare for herself with only the friendship of the town drunk to lean on for moral support.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Christenson / Lunamation on January 30, 2006
Format: VHS Tape
Of Human Hearts is one of those poignant family dramas remembered fondly by older audiences but neglected by DVD marketers who shun religious themes. It's a film that tells a story, rather than just a bunch of stuff that happens - a story about austere Reverend Ethan Wilkins, played perfectly by Walter Huston (Rain, Dodsworth, The Devil and Daniel Webster) who takes a position as the new preacher in Pine Hill Ohio, bringing his wife Mary, played by Beulah Bondi (On Borrowed Time, So Dear To My Heart) and young son Jason, portrayed as a boy by Gene Reynolds (who appeared in many movies as a boy, including In Old Chicago, Boys Town, and Love Finds Andy Hardy, and went on to direct many TV episodes including Leave It To Beaver, MASH, Lois and Clark - The New Adventures of Superman, and Touched By An Angel).

Ethan is humble but strict, emphasizing courtesy and generosity while denouncing pride and selfishness with stern discipline. Jason is practical and wants to become a doctor. His curiosity provokes his fathers wrath, and as he grows into a young man, later portrayed by James Stewart (It's A Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, etc.), he continues to defy him, at one point declaring "I'd rather save bodies than souls any day!" He runs away to medical school, often sending for money from his mother, who gradually sells her personal posessions to fund him, though he never returns to visit.

Civil War ensues, and Jason is one of the Union's best doctors, trying to save limbs rather than amputate whenever possible, though still neglecting his own parents. He's finally shamed by the President himself, Abraham Lincoln, played excellently by John Carradine (The Grapes of Wrath, House of Frankenstein, Bluebeard, Peggy Sue Got Married, etc. etc. etc.).
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lidash63 on January 5, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Engaging, warm film which highlights the eternal mothering role. Fabulous scene shows President Lincoln reprimanding Jimmy Stewart for not being respectful to his Mom. Forced him to write a letter to her while he supervised. A total must for all kids to see and a great gift for all Moms. Sincerely hope this will be made in DVD format.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "scotsladdie" on November 18, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
OF HUMAN HEARTS was Jimmy Stewart's first major piece of Americana, his first serious foray into the nature of the American spirit. This story of frontier life in a village on the banks of the Ohio River in the pre-Civil War era was a pet project of director Clarence Brown. A whopping prize of $5,000 was awarded to a high school student in North Carolina named Ray Harris - he gave the film its title which was based on BENEFITS FORGOT authored by Honore Morrow and published 20 years previously. Although there are definite cornball elements in the film, and its somewhat too slowly paced, the film stands up as a good evocation of the period in which it takes place. Huston gives a remarkable performance as the zealous preacher and Bondi is great as his gentle soul of a wife. The film was beneficial to Stewart's career; it was his first crack at a fully developed charactisation - and its success made it obvious that he was an actor with a definite future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joyful Family on March 7, 2007
Format: VHS Tape
Nothing created today can compare to the quality and inspiration of this movie!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. James Gardner VINE VOICE on May 11, 2011
Format: VHS Tape
"Of Human Hearts" is a 1938 Civil War drama starring Walter Huston, James Stewart, and Beulah Bondi with a great supporting cast that includes Charles Coburn, John Carradine, Sterling Holloway, Gene Lockhart, Ann Rutherford, and Guy Kibbee.

Walter Huston (1884-1950) plays a preacher, newly arrived in a small Ohio town in the years leading up to the Civil War. He was nominated for an Oscar for "Dodsworth" (1936) and again in 1942 ("Devil and Daniel Webster") and 1943 ("Yankee Doodle Dandy") and won in 1949 for "Treasure of the Sierra Madre".

Jimmy Stewart (1908-97) is a film icon. He was nominated for an Oscar 5 times, winning once ("The Philadelphia Story" in 1940). He had 2 BAFTA nominations (Anatomy of a Murder", "The Glenn Miller Story") and 3 Golden Globe nominations including one win ("Hawkins" in 1971). Twice he won the New York film critics award ("Anatomy of a Murder" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington") and he also gave us such memorable performances in "It's a Wonderful Life" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance". Stewart plays Huston's son who wants to be a physician, much to Huston's chagrin.This is a rare role for Stewart who plays a self-absorbed young man who is far from sympathetic.

Beulah Bondi (1888-1981) was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in this film. She had been nominated previously for "The Gorgeous Hussy" (1936) and won an Emmy in 1977 for "The Waltons". She is best remembered for playing Granny in 1948s "So Dear to My Heart". Bondi plays Huston's wife and Stewart's mother. Bondi had the distinction of playing Stewart's mother in 4 other films including "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington". She even reprised the role in 1971 for Stewart's TV show.
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