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First of all, the Edward of the game is never now seen, even though the storyline covers few decades of his life. Rather, the storyline concentrates on the destructive influences of his over-benevolent father (Spencer Tracy) whose selfishness and ambition destroy all the relationships about him and crash his son's character. Spencer Tracy is somewhat miscast, a tiny too likable and amiable in a role that calls for acidity and tartness. One wonders just how much better Robert Morley would have been in the role he created on the stage. Alas, film box office appeal ruled. Ian Hunter is nice as the Harley Road doctor, Tracy's mate throughout, who carries more than a burning torch for Tracy's long-suffering wife. The one knockout performance, which really carries a punch, shattering in its portrayal, is delivered by Deborah Kerr - unquestionably one of the greatest she ever gave. Going from a loving young wife to a middle-aged, spurned, embittered alcoholic, her performance is heart-wrenching. One watches her range with surprise for the sheer professionalism at what gotta have been a relatively young age. Quite various from any of the another roles she played in a long career. An absorbing drama, unusual in that the lead hero is not particularly likable or sympathetic. Worth watching for the snappy dialog and Kerr's performance.
Some have commented that they felt that Spencer Tracy was miscast in this film, testing a hero very various to the altruists that he typically plays, and being the only American among the principle cast. However, I trust that this perhaps is Tracy's strongest performance, partly because it is so various to his usual roles. Tracy plays a determined and unrelenting boy with true strength, although as his wife, Deborah Kerr also has a number of powerful scenes, particularly in the final half hour. The two lead performances are however the bulk of what makes this a nice film. It is reasonably engaging, with gimmicks of the game hero never on screen, and Tracy speaking to the viewer, to hold it interesting, but the plot is not too nice in itself, and the storyline tires before the end. It is also a bit too stagy, which limits how involving it is to an extent. Nevertheless, despite any possible shortcomings, the powerhouse of acting, not only from Tracy and Kerr, but some of the helping cast too, create this a movie worth checking out.
This unusual offering from M-G-M recalls the days of the short-lived M-G-M British Studios, which produced "A Yank at Oxford", "The Citadel", and the original "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", all in the 1930's. "Edward, My Son", based on a successful British play, was filmed entirely in England, using an entirely British cast,except for Spencer Tracy, and an almost entirely British production staff (the sole exceptions are the producer, the director, and the composer of the music). The familiar M-G-M production gloss is much more subdued here, perhaps in an effort to lend atmosphere.Spencer Tracy gives an outstanding performance in what is very likely the most unsympathetic role of his career, save for perhaps a several very early gangster roles which I have not seen. Here he is Arnold Boult, a ruthless, driven boy who seemingly just wants to create sure that his only kid Edward everytime has the greatest in life. At first, Boult wins our sympathy by secretly trying to give his son medical care he desperately needs, but we quickly learn what he is really like as he resorts to each dirty trick in the book, short of current murder, to insure his son's happiness, and showing an nice insensitivity and callousness to those around him in the process. As the movie proceeds, his behavior shocks us more and more, until he finally alienates and disgusts us completely.Matching Tracy's performance each step of the way, though she has far less time on screen, is Deborah Kerr in the role of Boult's victimized and emotionally scarred wife. Kerr was nominated for an Oscar for this performance, and her portrayal of a girl who goes from adoring wife to a fully embittered girl with a severe problem, is wrenching. Mervyn Johns, whom many will instantly recognize as Bob Cratchit to Alastair Sim's Scrooge in the 1951 film, also gives a touching, heartbreaking performance as Tracy's exploited and fully broken business partner.The helping cast here has quite a various flavor from those in the usual M-G-M film. Although Ian Hunter plays his usual sympathetic role, the another actors are all culled from the British theater, and give their roles an unusual depth missing from the typical Metro helping cast. Tracy, though, occasionally seems miscast--one wonders what an actor with more bite, such as Orson Welles, might have brought to the role.In spite of this, the movie is quite good, and Tracy's final monologue (he talks straight to the audience at times, a technique taken from the play) packages quite a punch.
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