Adam Had Four Sons (1941)

Things couldn’t be better for Adam (Warner Baxter) and Molly (Fay Wray) Stoddard at the turn of the 20th century.  Adam’s business is doing well, they have a beautiful home, and they have four wonderful sons: Jack (Richard Denning), David (Johnny Downs), Chris (Robert Shaw), and Phillip (Charles Lind).  They hire Emilie Gallatin (Ingrid Bergman) to be the boys’ governess and she quickly becomes one of the family.  Times get tough for the Stoddards, though, after Molly dies and Adam loses all his money in a stock market crash.  Unable to keep the family home, he has to send Emilie back home to France, but promises to send for her as soon as he gets the house back.

Seven years later, Adam’s luck has finally turned around and he buys the house back and sends for Emilie.  When Emilie returns, she comes back to find all four boys are now grown up and have all gone into the military and David has some news that surprises the entire family — he’s gotten married.  His new bride Hester (Susan Hayward) puts up a front of being a nice woman, but she really has her sights set on the Stoddard’s fortune and isn’t happy to have Emilie standing in her way.

David gets called to fight in World War I, and while he’s gone, Hester lives with Adam and Emilie.  When Jack comes home for a while, Hester seduces him.  Adam nearly catches them together, but Emilie knows whats happening, so she pretends it was her with Jack.  Adam is shocked and Jack doesn’t want Emilie to be stuck in that awful position, but she knows the truth would only hurt Adam.  But as Hester’s actions continue to tear the family apart, Jack realizes he must tell the truth.

Adam Had Four Sons is an enjoyable, but not great, little drama.  However, if you’re a big fan of Ingrid Bergman or Susan Hayward, this is one you’d definitely be interested in seeing.  Warner Baxter and Fay Wray were no strangers to film audiences in 1941, but Ingrid and Susan were very new to the game at the time.  Adam was only Ingrid Bergman’s second American film and Susan Hayward only had a few credited roles under her belt, but both of them show serious star quality here.  The two of them absolutely steal the movie and are far more memorable than their more experienced co-stars.

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