Metro, with the skill it has so often demonstrated in transforming a best-selling novel to a best-selling picture, turns the trick again with this filmization of A. J. Cronin’s The Green Years.
Since this is essentially a yarn built on careful development of its various characters, a major contribution is in giving new stature and audience appeal to virtually every player in it. That’s true all the way from vet Charles Coburn, who evidences his virtuosity in a new type role for him, to moppet Dean Stockwell and Beverly Tyler, both making their second screen appearances.
Ten-year-old Stockwell is the particularly bright spot in the well-turned cast. He gets real opportunity to demonstrate a sensitivity and true dramatic poignancy that definitely set him off from the usual studio moppets.
Young Stockwell plays an orphan boy in this Scottish-localed story of ambitious youth and amusing old age. The oldster, of course, is Coburn, as Dean’s great-grandfather, a man of large heart and large desires for the native brew. While this not-so-venerable, but thoroughly enjoyable, citizen is getting himself into one minor scrape after another, the youth (later played by Tom Drake) goes through the process of growing up, going to school and falling in love.
The two principals are set against a household full of characters. Hume Cronyn wreaks every bit of tightfistedness and little man-meanness out of the role of head of the house that takes the small boy in. Tyler and Drake play the teenage romance.
1946: Nomination: Best Supp. Actor (Charles Coburn), B&W Cinematography