My Son John

  • 1952
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

This is one of the few films that blatantly support the witch hunts of the McCarthy era, portraying the insidious enemy within as dwelling right in the heart of America--in the home. The alien occupant here is American-born and -bred Walker, a federal agency worker. He fails to appear at a send-off party for his younger brothers, Jaeckel and Young, who...read more

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This is one of the few films that blatantly support the witch hunts of the McCarthy era, portraying the insidious enemy within as dwelling right in the heart of America--in the home. The alien occupant here is American-born and -bred Walker, a federal agency worker. He fails to appear at

a send-off party for his younger brothers, Jaeckel and Young, who are about to embark with their unit to fight in the Korean War. Walker shows up later to deride his brothers' stupidity in fighting for the US and to make fun of his father in an alma mater speech, mimicking Jagger's singing of

"Uncle Sammy." Walker, the strutting intellectual, so infuriates his Bible-quoting father that Jagger strikes him with the Good Book. Hayes, the ever-devoted mother, cannot believe Heflin, an FBI man who tells her that Walker is a traitor and a communist spy. After much conflict she flies to

Washington, DC, where she has Walker swear his allegiance on the Bible, but, of course, he's lying. When Hayes learns that Winston, the girl her son is dating, is also under FBI surveillance, she finally accepts the idea that Walker is a spy. In the end, however, Walker has a patriotic seizure

and, instead of escaping with secrets to Lisbon and the waiting arms of the communists, he confesses his guilt and is shot to death by Red agents for his candor. He breathes his last on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and his confession is later played for students at his former high school,

where Walker's taped talk ends with him pleading for the young to "hold fast to honor." The story is impossible and could have been produced by the House Un-American Activities Committee to support its Spanish Inquisition-like hearings. The film is nevertheless a curiosity because of the stellar

talents involved in it. Hayes ended a 17-year hiatus from the screen with the film, and McCarey, one of the brightest Hollywood writer-directors, inexplicably lent his full energies to this embarrassing propaganda. Walker, another brilliant actor, died while the film was still in production and

some footage from Alfred Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, in which Walker had earlier appeared, was used to patch up final scenes. Stradling's cinematography is exceptional, and the film's story was nominated for an Oscar.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This is one of the few films that blatantly support the witch hunts of the McCarthy era, portraying the insidious enemy within as dwelling right in the heart of America--in the home. The alien occupant here is American-born and -bred Walker, a federal agen… (more)

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