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Of Human Hearts

4.6 out of 5 stars 35 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.

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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 (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00FEFOHF0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,835 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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By A Customer 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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It will always be one of my all time favorites. I especially love it when Abraham Lincoln chews out Jimmy Stewart for being an ungrateful son. He made him sit right down and write to his Mother and told him, if he didn't write every week he would kick him out of him high ranking position.

I took it and showed it to my Sunday School class. Loved this movie. Every family should watch it.
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