Fighting Sullivans, The (1944): Fact Inspired, Patriotic Family Melodrama, Starring Thomas Mitchell

Based on the true story of five brothers, The Fighting Sullivans is a family melodrama, centering on a quintet of male siblings (they had one sister). who fought and died together when their ship, the American cruiser Juneau, was sunk in the South Pacific.

With the exception of the last reel, most of the film tells why the boys fought rather than how they fought.

The tale traces their lives from boyhood in Waterloo, Iowa and was in essence a story of “typical” Americans and of love centered around home and family.

The account of the lives of these brave and patriotic men was mean to givea all Americans a renewed sense of what the war was all about.

Thomas Mitchell and Selena Royle play the parents of Al, Frank, George, Matt and Joe, who are all portrayed by unknown actors, giving the saga an addes sense of realism.

A simple but intimate and highly emotional family saga, The Fighting Sullivans was a sleeper hit at the box-office due to its patriotic tone and time of release.

The title changed between the film’s initial New York release and subsequent bookings: Originallythe film was called The Sullivansbut proved to be a disappointment at the box office until the new title was appended, whereupon it became a success.

It is a rare opportunity to see the versatile character actor, Thomas Mitchell (Oscar winner for the 1939 Western Stagecoach) play a lead role as the quick-tempered bu good-hearted father.

Cast:

 Anne Baxter

Thomas Mitchell

Selena Royle

Edward Ryan

Trudy Marshall

John Campbell

James Cardwell

John Alvin

George Otterman, Jr.

Roy Roberts

Ward Bond

Mary McCarty

Bobby Driscoll

Nancy June Robinson

Marvin Davis

Buddy Swan

Billy Cummings

Johnny Calkins

 

Credits

New York release date: February 10, 1944

20th Century-Fox.

Produced by Sam Jaffe.

Directed by Lloyd Bacon.

Screenplay by Mary C. McCall, Jr. from a story by Edward Doherty and Jules Schermer.