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This high point in the 1940s vogue for movies about family life at the turn of the century was directed by George Stevens (Shane), and stars Irene Dunne as the matriarch of a Norwegian family that faces hard knocks with grace in 1910 (or so) San Francisco. Based on John Van Druten's hit play (derived from Kathryn Forbes's autobiographical memoir), the film is gorgeously rendered and quite moving as an act of memory. The sterling cast of character actors--Edgar Bergen, Rudy Vallee, Oscar Homolka, Barbara Bel Geddes, Ellen Corby, Cedric Hardwicke--add great texture and a depth of experience that make the film feel quite lived-in. Hardwicke's turn as a penniless boarder who "pays" his rent by reciting from classic literature is a special highlight. --Tom Keogh
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