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43 Ratings

My Son John

Directed by Leo McCarey
United States, 1952


The Jeffersons are the ideal picture-perfect all-American family of the McCarthy era, except that “son John” is gay, an atheist, and a liberal. The parents obviously suspect he’s a Communist spy.

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My Son John Directed by Leo McCarey
The film that linked McCarey’s rowdy democratic vision to McCarthyite bughouse paranoia, a work that his reputation has struggled upstream against ever since… For about half of its runtime, when educated-above-his-station college boy snoot Robert Walker visits mom and dad, it’s prime McCarey—but then a Make Way for Tomorrow–esque study in familial dysfunction doesn’t survive the sharp pivot into a defense of same hearth and home.
July 13, 2016
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It works, because McCarey builds My Son John—which, at over two hours, is long by the standards of the early 1950s—around a sense of familial intimacy, which is then betrayed. It is a strange and often moving film, at once demented (especially in the patched-together final act) and full of grace notes. It imagines America—or, rather, McCarey’s conservative view of America—as something as primal as family, which cannot be forsaken.
July 03, 2015
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As the tension mounts, particularly between Jagger and Walker, My Son John turns into a full-blown McCarthy hearing, with Jagger blasting his son with accusations of Communist subversion while Walker smugly, arrogantly, and ineffectually tries to deflect the charges. Once the Bible gets whipped out, the film reaches a comical nadir of moral high-handedness.
August 29, 2012
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