23 March 2007 | Doylenf
Edward G. Robinson in another powerhouse performance...
ALL MY SONS may have been slightly diluted for the screen as compared to the stage play which implicated corruption and wartime profiteering on a higher level than just one or two business men, but it's still powerful stuff and extremely well directed by Irving Reis. Individual scenes have a strength that is impressive, largely due to the excellent central performances of BURT LANCASTER, EDWARD G. ROBINSON and MADY CHRISTIANS. Robinson, in particular, makes the most of a meaty role that has him cocky and confident one moment, then bruised and bitter the next as his past crimes catch up with him--and his conscience.
Seems that during WWII, he and his partner (FRANK CONROY) were pressured to finish making cylinder parts for airplanes on the government's tight schedule and knowingly sent defective parts which caused the death of twenty-one pilots when their planes went down. Robinson has been hiding the truth from himself and his neighbors ever since, concerned only with making a decent living for himself and his family in suburban America.
Conflicts arise when others around him begin to question his role in the crime that sent his partner to jail. The son of the jailed partner, played in rather stiff fashion by HOWARD DUFF, is unforgiving when he realizes Robinson shared the guilt with his father and yet let his father take the blame for the incident. Lancaster, too, and his girlfriend (LOUISA HORTON) who happens to be Duff's sister, also bring the conflicts into the open when they start asking for answers and probing for the truth. Horton is rather colorless in what is meant to be a sympathetic role and spent her remaining years in TV roles.
But it's EDWARD G. ROBINSON who makes the biggest impression as the father, proud of his achievements and obviously in denial until his son, Lancaster, makes him realize why his other son never returned from the war--which leads to a tragic ending.
Summing up: Somber drama never quite overcomes its stage origins but it's still powerful stuff.
Trivia note: The only implausible factor in the casting--the physical impossibility of BURT LANCASTER as Robinson's son, when he bears no physical resemblance whatsoever to Eddie--nor Mady Christians for that matter!