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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pilgrimage (1933)

A cold and selfish mother (Henrietta Crosman) would rather see her son (Norman Foster, who later become a director of such films as RACHEL AND THE STRANGER) dead than leave her. When he falls in love with the girl (Marian Nixon) on the neighboring farm and gets her pregnant, the mother forces him to join the Army during WWI where he is killed in action in France. After his death, she takes a pilgrimage to his grave in France where she must come to terms with her selfish and cruel actions. This paean to mother love was directed by John Ford and it's easy to recognize his hand here. Ford had a sentimental spot that ruined many a moment in his best films. Here, he saves it for the end. It's blatantly, shamefully, manipulatively sentimental but it does what it set out to do. The pacing is on the sluggish side but it's entertaining and Crosland is very good. With Heather Angel, Maurice Murphy, Hedda Hopper and Lucille La Verne (1935's A TALE OF TWO CITIES) as a corn cob smoking hillbilly on her first visit to Paris.

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