All My Sons comes to the screen with a potent impact. Whatever message may have been in the stage presentation has been resolved to the more fundamental one of man’s duty to man, and gains strength by that switch. It’s a serious, thoughtful study, loaded with dramatic dynamite.
Chester Erskine’s approach to the Arthur Miller play benefits from the broader movement permitted by the screen. It’s an ace scripting and production job that carefully measures every value to be found in the plot.
Script makes the point that we all are our brothers’ keepers with a responsibility that can’t be shunted aside for purely personal desires. Rather than hammering point over, it is gradually brought out in telling of a man who, in a desire for success, becomes responsible for the death of 21 fliers during the war.
Edward G. Robinson gives an effective performance as the small-town manufacturer who sends defective parts to the Army Air Forces. It’s a humanized study that rates among his best and lends the thought behind the film much strength. Burt Lancaster, as his war-embittered son, shades the assignment with just the right amount of intensity. His love and belief in his dad, whom he must betray to right the wrong done, cloaks the role with that human touch that marks all of the characters.