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Johnny Belinda

4.6 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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(Jan 31, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Life is hard on MacDonald farm in stony, windswept Nova Scotia - and harder for young Belinda, a deaf mute whose affliction has been confused with mental deficiency. Then the town's new doctor takes an interest in helping her break out of her silent prison. Jane Wyman won the Best Actress Academy Award for her sensitive portrayal of Belinda, capturing the girl's affecting isolation, awakening desire to learn and ultimate triumph. Directed by Jean Negulesco and co-starring Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford and Agnes Moorehead (all four Oscar nominees* for their fine work), Johnny Belinda (nominated for a total 11 Oscars including Best Picture) blends atmosphere, nuance and high drama into a heartbreaking classic.

Special Features

  • Vintage short: The Little Archer
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford, Agnes Moorehead, Stephen McNally
  • Directors: Jean Negulesco
  • Writers: Allen Vincent, Elmer Harris, Irma von Cube
  • Producers: Jerry Wald
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dubbed, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 31, 2006
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BYA4JC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,691 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Johnny Belinda" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Jane Wyman was perhaps the most underrated and unappreciated actress of the 20th Century, while actually delivering some of the greatest performances seen on the screen. She never seems to be the recipient of those Lifetime Achievement awards that fly in all directions, nor is she subject matter for 'Biography' or 'Intimate Portrait' (though she also has the distinction of being the only divorced wife of an American President in US history).... yet I can think of no other star more deserving of accolades and awards. She demonstrated none of the overblown histrionics of Bette Davis, nor the phony, cloying 'sweetness' of Joan Crawford; she was not in the position of respect she attained in the movie industry because of Lana Turner or Ava Gardner glamour and beauty. Every performance from Wyman was an underplayed masterpiece, and her Academy Award winning role in "Johnny Belinda" was no exception. She never tried to over-shadow her co-stars Charles Bickford, Agnes Moorehead, and Jan Sterling...all of whom were letter perfect in their parts...and Moorehead, at least, must have admired her greatly because I can think of at least five Wyman movies right off the top of my head where Agnes was along for the ride! Yes, she won the Oscar for her superb, poignant performance in "Johnny Belinda," but she could have just as easily won it earlier for "Lost Weekend" or "The Yearling"...or a few years later for "The Blue Veil" (my personal Wyman favorite, but impossible to find on video) or "So Big" or "Magnificent Obsession" or its sequel, the much better "All That Heaven Allows.Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
Jane Wyman deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Belinda, the deaf-mute who becomes a mother after being raped. It is such a wonderful performance, as Belinda grows in knowledge and life experiences, helped along by Lew Ayres as a kind-hearted doctor who comes to Cape Breton Island after some problems in his own personal life. The two of them grow together, and overcome some severe obstacles before they can find happiness. Charles Bickford as Belinda's father and Agnes Moorhead as Belinda's aunt also give stellar performances.
Ahead of its time in terms of subject matter (treatment of the handicapped and the stigma of rape), this film holds up well after all of these years. One of my long-time favorites, and a true classic.
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Format: DVD
Many who have reviewed this near-masterpiece have neglected to say just how special this film was to 1948 audiences. Jane Wyman was known as the girl-next-door type, playing girlfriends and wives, but rarely taken seriously as a topnotch actress. Her one shot came with "The Yearling", as the stern, but understanding mother to Claude Jarmon, Jr. Her performance in "Johnny Belinda" was seen as a revelation, with her Oscar pretty much assured. The film itself garnered 13 Academy Award nominations, winning only the one for Jane Wyman.

The DVD has a greatly sharpened picture - near perfect, in fact. But the sound is a vast improvement, not muffled as it was on the VHS tape, and certainly better than what was offered by Turner Classic Movies for years. However, for the most recent televised airing, the new restored version was used.

The only disappointment is the lack of extras on the DVD. Somewhere in the vaults, there had to be more info about the making of the film or Oscar highlights. Get with it, Warner Brothers!
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Format: VHS Tape
I hadn't seen this film in 30 years, but watched it again last evening. I was mesmerized by several aspects of this classic (and ahead of its time) 1948 movie. Jane Wyman won the Oscar in this role where she makes not a single sound, not even in the throes of pregnancy. She is a deaf mute and never speaks, but imbues her character with a poignant tenderness and yearning which is extremely moving. There is no doubt that Wyman is an extremely underrated actress, because the pathos in this performance is moving indeed.
Lew Ayres gives possibly his best performance here. For other reviewers who say he's the weakest part of the movie, I don't agree; perhaps they need to see him in the classic 1930 offering, "All Quiet on the Western Front." In that film, Lew was gorgeous to look at it, but couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. Here, he's vastly improved and deliberately underplays a character who is caring, decent, but essentially stoic and very still. I admit there isn't a lot of chemistry between Wyman and Ayres, but he projects a dignity and decency which shines through.
Agnes Moorehead and Charles Bickford deliver outstanding supporting performances. Their interplay and dialogue is interesting and they contribute to the flowing plot.
Aside from Wyman's stellar performance, the most interesting aspect of the film is that it is not dated in the least. The subjects of rape, an illegitimate baby and pre-marital sex were hardly common themes in movies of that era, and this film handles it with aplomb and class. The weakness of the film is that Belinda is assailed from all sides constantly; her lot in life is hard enough to begin with, but she is thrown one vicious curve after another. But not to worry, all comes out all right in the end.
This movie is worth watching solely for Wyman's outstanding performance. Watch her eyes and how she conveys such beautiful emotion in them. I have renewed respect for Jane Wyman after watching this moving drama.
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