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Kings Row

4.7 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

It's a quaint turn-of-the-century small town of shady streets, swimming holes and the Sunday afternoon clip-clop of horse and buggy. But that peaceful exterior conceals human lives twisted by cruelty, murder and madness. Kings Row is one of Warner Bros.' most distinguished productions, highlighted by an outstanding cast, haunting James Wong Howe cinematography and a somber, emotion-laden Erich Wolfgang Korngold score. Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Betty Field, Claude Rains and Charles Coburn give indelible performances ? and Ronald Reagan's portrayal of Drake, a cheerful ne'er-do-well shattered by tragedy, has been hailed as his career best. Nominated for 3 Academy Awards? including Best Picture,* Kings Row is a powerful American saga of dreams, despair and triumph.

Amazon.com

Kings Row (1942) is consensus pick for Ronald Reagan's finest screen hour. A big, juicy, and really quite weird melodrama, the film cruises through the creepier side of small-town life, with Reagan in a very appealing groove. He plays the more rascally of the two male leads (Robert Cummings is the sensitive hero), a breezy charmer whose talent with the ladies gets him in trouble. The most lurid twist in the movie leads to Reagan's line, "Where's the rest of me?", which became the title of his autobiography. An extremely entertaining movie, with director Sam Wood inestimably aided by James Wong Howe's lush cinematography and Erich Wolfgang Korngold's classic music score. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Oscar-nominated vintage featurette "The United States Marine Band"
  • Classic cartoon "Fox Pop"
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, Betty Field, Charles Coburn
  • Directors: Sam Wood
  • Writers: Casey Robinson, Henry Bellamann
  • Producers: David Lewis, Hal B. Wallis
  • Format: Black & White, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 15, 2006
  • Run Time: 127 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FTCLS0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,813 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Kings Row" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is a riveting soap opera with a cast that holds all the pieces together, and keeps the sometimes improbable plot fascinating at all times for the viewer.
It was filmed on a soundstage, with very effective scenic design by William Cameron Menzies...I just love the skies !
Brilliantly conceived and directed by Sam Wood, it's based on Harry Bellamann's best-selling novel. The excellent Erich Wolfgang Korngold score also adds to the drama and atmosphere.
Set in a turn of the century small town, where the dark secrets and vile motives of some contrast with the goodness of others, the best scenes are between Ann Sheridan and Ronald Reagan.
The chemistry between them is a delight, and their acting so real, one feels one is sharing the moment with them, even though this was filmed over 60 years ago. They shine as Randy and Drake, two strong, independent, and fun loving souls.
With the exception of one or two scenes with rather stilted dialogue between Betty Field and Robert Cummings, the pacing never lags. There are great actors even in the supporting roles, like Dame Judith Anderson and Maria Ouspenskaya. Claude Rains is absolutely marvelous, and steals every scene he's in.
This classic was nominated for several Oscars...B&W Cinematography (James Wong Howe), Director, and Best Picture, but lost to a "Mrs. Minever" sweep.
It's perhaps Ronald Reagan's best performance, so this film is a piece of American history, as well as being highly entertaining.
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Format: VHS Tape
"King's Row" is the most distinguished film of Ronald Reagan's actor career, for which he drew his best reviews. However, by the time it was released in 1942, Reagan was in the Army and his film career received a fateful interruption that would eventually lead to his shifting to a political career. I remember that when Breshnev was preparing to meet with President Reagan the Soviet leader screened several of Reagan's films, and "King's Row" was the one that impressed him. If you have already seen this film, directed by Sam Wood, you know why.
The film focuses on five childhood friends who grow up to complicated lives. Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) has become a medical student, studying privately with Dr. Alexander Tower (Claude Rains), whose daughter Cassandra (Betty Field) is a sheltered neurotic. Louise Gordon (Nancy Coleman) has been raised by harsh parents who warn here away from playboy Drake McHugh (Reagan), who is living off an inheritance. Drake ends up falling for Randy Monoghan (Ann Sheridan), the former tomboy who has grown up in to a most practical working class girl. Things then get very dark. First, when Dr. Tower discovers Cassandra is pregnant he kills her and himself. Then, after losing his fortune and taking a job at the railroad yard, Drake is injured and Dr. Gordon (Charles Coburn) decides to amputate the young man's legs as a punishment for his former hedonism. This is what leads to Reagan's unforgettable scene when he wakes up and discovers what has been done to him. The scene could have become ludicrous, but Reagan pulls it off and it is clearly his finest moment as an actor.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
"Kings Row" was the "Peyton Place" of the 1940's, and after a few attempts at a script, Warners finally got the censors to approve one. Although it does leave out the controversial elements of the book, it still manages to get the main story across--that of Parris (Robert Cummings), Drake (Ronald Reagan), and Randy (Ann Sheridan), from childhood to adulthood, with lots of twists and turns inbetween.
Sheridan is the one who really shines in this film. Given the chance to prove that she was more than just a second lead or wise-cracking girlfriend, Sheridan shows that she can handle drama, especially in the scenes with Reagan (who also is above his usual workman-like performances) after he has his accident and loses his legs.
Maria Ouspenskaya, best know as the gypsy in "The Wolf Man," shows that she was a very underrated character actress in her brilliant performance as Parris' grandmother, a queenly and noble woman who instills all of the right values in her grandson.
Korngold's score is superb (a precursor of John Williams' score for "Star Wars"), and if you can find a copy of it on CD, I suggest a listen to that as well. It gives the film a real boost, and is one of Korngold's best.
In all, one of the best dramas of the 1940's, and one of Warner Bros. best films ever.
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Format: VHS Tape
King's Row starts off with a view of a sign that announces that the town of King's Row is a great place to live and have a family. The rest of the movie shows you just how untrue that sign was. The film turns the romantic view of life in a small town upside down, exposing a lot of vices and prejudices. The performances are a mixed bag. Ann Sheridan gives one of her best performances as the girl from the wrong side of the tracks (literally), and Ronald Reagan surprises with an effective job as the victim of a sadistic doctor. But Robert Cummings is sometimes laughable as the very idealistic young doctor and Betty Field is over the top as his troubled girlfriend. The supporting cast is generally fine, with an especially fine performance by Nancy Coleman, who should have become a star but didn't. The movie is both dramatic and entertaining, and if you like stories about small towns like I do, then don't miss this one. It's an eye-opener!
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