Kings Row: Impact, Critical Status

Though one of Sam Wood’s most fully realized and most impactful films, Kings Row was panned by the dean of the New York critics.

The N.Y. Times Bosley Crowther described it as “gloomy and ponderous as the novel upon which it was based. ”

“Just why the Warner attempted a picture of this sort in these times, and just why the corps of high-priced artists which they employed for it did such a bungling job, are questions which they are probably mulling more anxiously than any one else.”

Crowther wrote that the film “turgidly unfolds on the screen,” and is “one of the bulkiest blunders to come out of Hollywood in some time.” The performances, particularly Cummings’, were “totally lacking in conviction.” The film “just shows a lot of people feeling bad.”

The film has remained both compulsive viewing and scandalously perverse, a precursor to the small-town melodrama, Peyton Place in 1957.

Robinson’s screenplay was praised due to it handling of sensitive issues.

Under pressure, it had to tame down a mercy killing, and the homosexual angle.”

Korngold’s score is hauntingly ominous.

James Wong Howe’s cinematography used deep focus, as befits the grim and brooding texture.

Oscar Nominations: 3

Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (James Wong Howe)

Best Director

Best Picture

Box office:

The film earned $2,350,000 in rentals in the US.  It was more popular domestically, earning $3,14 million at home and $1,95 million in foreign markets

Movie Lines to remember:

Drake McHugh (Reagan): “Where’s the rest of me?”