Cast & Crew
In 1907, the Stoddard family anxiously awaits the arrival of their new European governess, Emilie Gallatin. Emilie and her four charges--Jack, David, Chris and Phillip Stoddard--share an instant rapport, and the boys are delighted when Emilie intuits the layout of their stately house, Stonehenge. As the year unfolds, the fortunes of Adam Stoddard, the head of the house and a prominent stockbrocker, begin to fall as the stock market plunges. Despondent, Adam returns home from work early one afternoon to find his wife Molly sick in bed. When Molly faints at Thanksgiving dinner, the doctor prescribes immediate surgery. Too sick to be moved to the hospital, Molly must be operated on at home, and before the procedure begins, she extracts a promise from Emilie to take care of her boys. When Molly dies during surgery, Emilie consoles Adam with the idea that his legacy lies in his four sons. After the stock market plummets, Adam is forced to sell Stonehenge and send his sons away to school. Adam's crusty old cousin Philippa advises him to send Emilie home, and he reluctantly agrees. As Emilie bids the family a tearful farewell, Adam promises to send for her as soon as his fortunes improve. The advent of World War I stimulates the economy, and ten years later, Stoddard and Company has regained its former glory. After buying back Stonehenge, Adam sends for Emilie, who returns to find her four charges fully grown. Jack and Chris, now soldiers, joyfully salute her homecoming. David arrives later with a surprise, his new bride Hester. Knowing that he is to be shipped overseas soon, David, a fighter pilot, asks that Hester be allowed to move in with his family. Desiring to be the only woman in the household, Hester lashes out at Emilie and accuses her of having designs on Adam. Upon meeting Hester, cousin Philippa questions her motives for marrying David. While at the house, Philippa suffers a fatal heart attack and with her dying breath warns Emilie about Hester. After David, Phillip and Chris are assigned overseas, Hester becomes bored and lonely and begins to drink. When Jack unexpectedly comes home for a two-day leave, he and Hester consume a bottle of scotch together, and then Hester begins to make romantic advances, declaring that she prefers him to David. Succumbing to Hester's charms, Jack kisses her just as Emilie enters the room. After the household retires that evening, Hester sneaks into Jack's room, and Adam sees a silhouette of them embracing at the window. As Adam pounds at Jack's door, Emilie, awakened by the commotion, slips into Jack's room through the back door and switches places with Hester to preserve Jack's honor. When Jack opens the door, Adam sees only Emilie in his son's bedroom. After Armistice is declared, Chris and Phillip come home, and when Hester tries to seduce Chris, Jack warns her to stay away from his brothers. The night of David's homecoming, Hester gets drunk as Jack watches in disgust. Later, Jack begs Emilie to tell Adam the truth, but she refuses, choosing to sacrifice her own honor to protect that of Adam and David. After retiring to their bedroom, the drunken Hester slips and calls David by Jack's name, thus arousing his suspicions. In defense, Hester threatens the family with scandal if David tries to divorce her. The next morning, David is discovered missing, and when the family is notified that he has been hospitalized after crashing his plane, Jack and Adam hurry to his bedside. Realizing that Hester has driven David to attempt suicide, Emilie orders her to leave the house. As Emilie shoves Hester toward the door, Adam returns, and Hester claims that Emilie resents her presence and is trying to get rid of her. Although Emilie stands mute to Hester's accusations, Adam begins to suspect that Hester is the cause of David's unhappiness. When Jack arrives, he assesses the situation and finally tells Adam the truth about Hester. As Emilie packs her suitcases, Adam knocks at her door, and after confessing that he loves her, he asks her to share his legacy. In reply, Emilie addresses him as "Adam" rather than "monsieur."
W. Franke Harling
Francis D. Lyon
Adam Had Four Sons
Adam Had Four Sons (1941) is based on the novel Legacy by Charles Bonner. The adaptation is a pleasant family melodrama that marked the debut of former radio announcer Robert Sherwood as a film producer. According to the Variety review, Sherwood bought the rights to Bonner's novel and it remained a pet project of his until the opportunity to orchestrate a production deal with Columbia Studios.
Ingrid Bergman, making only her second American film, was borrowed from David O. Selznick Productions to appear in the film. Director Gregory Ratoff also directed Bergman's first American film, a Selznick picture entitled Intermezzo (1939). When she wasn't memorizing her lines, she was working closely with Ruth Roberts, her dialogue coach, on how to speak English. Bergman's own feelings about the overwrought melodrama were ambivalent. Writing about Adam Had Four Sons in her autobiography, Bergman said, "At last something my teeth could bite into, but it was not such a good apple. We had a script to work with but the dialogue was made up minute by minute as we went along, and they had no idea how to end the picture. Ruth Roberts was an enormous help, and great affection for the crazy Gregory Ratoff, so it all left a very pleasant souvenir."
Bergman also added that "It wasn't a very good picture. But as long as a part makes sense, and the character is a human being, I will try because I can't do artificial people on the screen. Nothing done with such a character can make it real to audiences." With Ratoff's permission, Bergman introduced changes to her character that turned Emilie from a cardboard saint to a humanized woman, such as adding the scenes in which she did gymnastics and played basketball with the boys. Bergman would humanize her Sister Benedict in The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) with some similar athletic character development.
Bergman wasn't alone in identifying this reality as being an important aspect of her work. "Somehow," said the San Francisco News, "you believe in her." Co-star Fay Wray praised Bergman. "She seemed not to be an actress, but a reality...Ingrid had a quality that was spiritual and physical at the same time. She seemed real, not like she was performing at all."
Producer: Gordon Griffith, Robert E. Sherwood
Director: Gregory Ratoff
Screenplay: Michael Blankfort, William Hurlbut, Charles Bonner (novel)
Cinematography: J. Peverell Marley
Film Editing: Francis D. Lyon
Art Direction: Rudolph Sternad
Music: W. Franke Harling
Cast: Ingrid Bergman (Emilie Gallatin), Warner Baxter (Adam Stoddard), Susan Hayward (Hester Stoddard), Fay Wray (Molly Stoddard), Richard Denning (Jack Stoddard), Johnny Downs (David Stoddard).
by Scott McGee
Adam Had Four Sons
The working title of this film was Legacy. This picture marked former radio announcer Robert Sherwood's (not to be confused with Robert Sherwood the playwright) debut as a film producer. According to the Variety review, Sherwood bought the rights to Charles Bonner's novel and then used the property to orchestrate a production deal with Columbia. Variety incorrectly lists the picture's running time as 108 minutes. Ingrid Bergman was borrowed from David O. Selznick Productions to appear in the film. Gregory Ratoff also directed Bergman's American screen debut in the 1939 Selznick film Intermezzo (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2140). On April 4, 1957, Lux Video Theatre broadcast a televised version of this film script titled Adam Had Four Sons and starring Leon Ames and Valentina Cortesa.
Released in United States 1941
Released in United States 1941