Edward, My Son
Edward, My Son is a 1949
1949 in film
The year 1949 in film involved some significant events.-Top grossing films :- Awards :Academy Awards:*Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello...

Cinema of the United States
The cinema of the United States, also known as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period...

Cinema of the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has had a major influence on modern cinema. The first moving pictures developed on celluloid film were made in Hyde Park, London in 1889 by William Friese Greene, a British inventor, who patented the process in 1890. It is generally regarded that the British film industry...

 drama film
Drama film
A drama film is a film genre that depends mostly on in-depth development of realistic characters dealing with emotional themes. Dramatic themes such as alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, moral dilemmas, racial prejudice, religious intolerance, poverty, class divisions, violence against women...

 directed by George Cukor
George Cukor
George Dewey Cukor was an American film director. He mainly concentrated on comedies and literary adaptations. His career flourished at RKO and later MGM, where he directed What Price Hollywood? , A Bill of Divorcement , Dinner at Eight , Little Women , David Copperfield , Romeo and Juliet and...

 that stars Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy
Spencer Bonaventure Tracy was an American theatrical and film actor, who appeared in 75 films from 1930 to 1967. Tracy was one of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, ranking among the top ten box office draws for almost every year from 1938 to 1951...

 and Deborah Kerr
Deborah Kerr
Deborah Kerr, CBE was a Scottish film and television actress from Glasgow. She won the Sarah Siddons Award for her Chicago performance as Laura Reynolds in Tea and Sympathy, a role which she originated on Broadway, a Golden Globe Award for the motion picture The King and I, and was a three-time...

. The screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart
Donald Ogden Stewart
Donald Ogden Stewart was an American author and screenwriter.-Life:His hometown was Columbus, Ohio. He graduated from Yale University, where he became a brother to the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity , in 1916 and was in the Naval Reserves in World War I.After the war he started to write and found...

 is based on the play by Noel Langley
Noel Langley
Noel Langley was a successful novelist, playwright, screenwriter and director. While under contract to MGM he was one of the screenwriters for The Wizard of Oz...

 and Robert Morley
Robert Morley
Robert Adolph Wilton Morley, CBE was an English actor who, often in supporting roles, was usually cast as a pompous English gentleman representing the Establishment...



Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 Arnold Boult and his wife Evelyn are celebrating the first birthday of their son Edward with their friend, physician Larry Woodhope, in their London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 home shortly after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Arnold is about to embark upon a new career in finance with Harry Simpkin, who has been released from prison after serving time on fraud charges.

Five years later, Edward is diagnosed with a serious illness requiring a costly operation abroad. With his retail credit business doing poorly, Boult decides to burn down the building in order to finance the surgery with the insurance money. Despite reservations about his partner's scheme, Harry goes along with the plan.

As the years pass, Boult evolves into a wealthy, titled financier who will do anything to protect his son. When Edward is threatened with expulsion from his prep school, Lord Boult assumes its mortgage. Time passes, and Evelyn confides in Larry her concern that Edward drinks too much and appears to have no sense of morality. Larry strongly suggests that something be done to control Edward, but Lord Boult feels the young man can do no wrong.

Having served another sentence for fraud, Harry comes to Boult and asks for a job. When he is put off, Harry commits suicide by leaping from the roof of his former partner's office building. When the police investigate, Boult's secretary Eileen Perrin lies that Harry did not come to the office that day. She and Boult become lovers.

A year later, during a tryst in Eileen's apartment, the two discover they are being observed by a detective working for Evelyn's attorney. Anxious to avoid scandal, Boult breaks up with Eileen, who later kills herself with an overdose of pills. Boult departs for Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 to see his wife and Edward. Evelyn threatens to expose him so their son will see his true nature, but in return Boult promises he will destroy Larry, who loves her, unless she remains silent.

Evelyn acquiesces. As the years pass, she becomes increasingly unhappy and begins to drink heavily. Edward also has become an alcoholic and is engaged to socialite Phyllis Mayden, although young Betty Foxley, who is pregnant with Edward's child, believes he will marry her. Boult subtly suggests Larry abort the child, but the doctor refuses and offers Betty medical and financial assistance instead.

Edward, serving as a Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 pilot during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, crashes his plane while stunting and is killed along with his crew. Lord Boult, now a widower, beseeches Larry to tell him the whereabouts of Betty and her child. Larry refuses, leaving his obsessed old friend determined to do whatever is necessary to find his grandchild.


In the play, the title character never is seen, and director George Cukor opted to do the same in the film adaptation. The screenplay closely adhered to the original script, the only major change being Arnold Boult's conversion from British to Canadian so Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy
Spencer Bonaventure Tracy was an American theatrical and film actor, who appeared in 75 films from 1930 to 1967. Tracy was one of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, ranking among the top ten box office draws for almost every year from 1938 to 1951...

 wouldn't have to struggle with an accent. Tracy initially resisted playing such an unsympathetic character but later told Cukor, "It's rather disconcerting to me to find out how easily I play a heel."

Cukor originally wanted his close friend and Tracy's lover Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Houghton Hepburn was an American actress of film, stage, and television. In a career that spanned 62 years as a leading lady, she was best known for playing strong-willed, sophisticated women in both dramas and comedies...

 for the role of Eileen, but the two were sensitive about working together too frequently. Cukor also feared casting a major star in the relatively small role would throw the picture off balance and draw attention away from leading lady Deborah Kerr.

Leueen MacGrath ended up as Eileen, reprising a role she had played on stage.


  • Spencer Tracy ..... Arnold Boult
  • Deborah Kerr ..... Evelyn Boult
  • Ian Hunter
    Ian Hunter (actor)
    Ian Hunter was a British character actor.Among dozens of film roles, his best-remembered appearances include That Certain Woman with Bette Davis, The Adventures of Robin Hood , The Little Princess and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde...

     ..... Larry Woodhope
  • Mervyn Johns
    Mervyn Johns
    Mervyn Johns was a Welsh film and television character actor. He was a mainstay of Ealing Studios.Among his dozens of film roles were Walter Craig in Dead of Night , the Church Warden in Went the Day Well? and Bob Cratchit in Scrooge...

     ..... Harry Sempkin
  • Leueen MacGrath
    Leueen MacGrath
    Leueen MacGrath was a British actress and playwright and the second wife of George S. Kaufman, from 1949 until their divorce in 1957....

     ..... Eileen Perrin
  • Tilsa Page ..... Betty Foxley
  • Harriette Johns ..... Phyllis Mayden

Critical reception

Bosley Crowther
Bosley Crowther
Bosley Crowther was a journalist and author who was film critic for The New York Times for 27 years. His reviews and articles helped shape the careers of actors, directors and screenwriters, though his reviews, at times, were unnecessarily mean...

 of the New York Times observed, "Shallow, perhaps, as a study of the accumulation of power, this drama is nonetheless gripping in its expose of the intimate life of a man in his ruthless rise from poverty to fabulous position and wealth . . . And not only is the story intriguing in its details, but some of the people in it are consistently interesting . . . However, it must be acknowledged that Mr. Tracy . . . fails to give clear definition or consistency to this ruthless man . . . as Mr. Tracy plays him, he is a really decent sort who sells his soul for the sake of his beloved son and whose defection seems to haunt him for the rest of his life. His moments of hard and ruthless dealing, in which his eyes narrow coldly and his jaw sets, are heavily interlarded with gay and smiling gobs of Tracy charm. There is nothing sardonic about him. He is even dull as a personality . . . Say this, however, for the film folks: they haven't put Edward on the screen. That major restraint is most welcome."

Awards and nominations

Deborah Kerr was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress
Academy Award for Best Actress
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

 and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama but lost both to Olivia de Havilland
Olivia de Havilland
Olivia Mary de Havilland is a British American film and stage actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1946 and 1949. She is the elder sister of actress Joan Fontaine. The sisters are among the last surviving leading ladies from Hollywood of the 1930s.-Early life:Olivia de Havilland...

 in The Heiress
The Heiress
The Heiress is a 1949 American drama film. It was written by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, adapted from their 1947 play of the same title that was based on the 1880 novel Washington Square by Henry James. The film was directed by William Wyler, with starring performances by Olivia de Havilland as...

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