The Human Comedy (1943)    0 Stars


The Human Comedy (1943)
The Human Comedy (1943)


Director: Clarence Brown

Cast: Mickey Rooney, Frank Morgan, James Craig

Synopsis: Teenager Homer Macauley stays at home in small-town Ithaca to support his family, while his older brother Marcus prepares to go to war.






I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie quite like Clarence Brown’s The Human Comedy; concentrating on US home-front morale and spiritual fortitude, it manages to combine sentimentality of the most cloying kind with a brand of “inspirational” propaganda that is both unsubtle and overwrought.

Everyone in this long, entirely plot-free movie is a warm, wonderful human being, steeped in the kind of Americana that probably never existed outside of Hollywood: mother and daughters sing around the harp of an evening; a geeky, put-upon boy is completely forgiving of his tormentors; adolescent romantic rivalry is settled with a shrug of Mickey Rooney’s adolescent shoulders and a handshake; the town drunk (the wonderful Frank Morgan – The Wizard of Oz, Broadway Melody of 1940) is a kindly old man who is dedicated to his job; another old man chuckles joyfully as a gang of mischievous children steal apricots from his tree. And on and on and on it goes for two staggering hours…

Every movie needs an antagonist; some form of conflict needs to be established if the viewer is to be snared. The Human Comedy contains neither and, in these cynical and demanding times, suffers badly for it.

Now, if the old man had been chuckling because he’d sprayed the tree with insecticide…

(Reviewed 15th February 2002)

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