Cast & Crew
Jake Cohen, the owner of a successful London department store, feels useless now that the daily work of running the business is handled by his son Sam and family friend, Joe Levine. Nevertheless, he happily anticipates the return of his second son Jack, who has been abroad. At Jack's homecoming party, Rachel, Jake's wife, tells Jack how much she is looking forward to his marriage to Julie Levine, Joe's sister and Jack's childhood friend. Before Jack can tell her that he has fallen in love with Sally O'Connor and plans to marry her, Rachel suffers a stroke and dies. Jake is upset when he learns that Jack refuses to marry Julie, and behind Jack's back, he visits the O'Connors, implying that Jack is not free to marry Sally. When Jack finds out what happened, he is heartbroken. Sam tells Jake that his plans for his sons are old-fashioned, just like his business ideas, and suggests that he leave for a vacation. Taking Sam's advice, Jake sets off early one morning to walk through the English countryside. He acquires a dog as a companion and meets Bob West, a young, unemployed man. After giving Bob a note that will help him get a job at the store, Jake continues his walk, until he learns that the employees at his store are threatening to strike on the eve of a big sale if Sam refuses to honor the agreement that Jake signed before his departure. Jake rushes back to prevent the strike and, taking charge again, advises Sam to use his heart as well as his head. After learning that Julie and Bob have fallen in love, he is reconciled to Jack's marriage to Sally, and soon the two fathers attend two weddings, one Catholic, one Jewish.
Father Takes a Walk
The film was advertised as "Mary Roberts Rinehart's Father Takes a Walk" (it was co-written by Brock Williams), but the picture is far removed from the mystery thrillers that had made her reputations since the early 20th century. It follows Jake Cohen (Paul Graetz), a businessman more interested in the human side of running the department store he founded. Now that his sons have taken control, however, he feels left out of a world increasingly run by business projections and number crunchers. His wife's death triggers a crisis, followed by a conflict with younger son Sam over the boy's wish to break his engagement with Julia (Chili Bouchier) and marry a rival store owner's daughter (Meriel Forbes). Finally, Graetz takes off on a foot tour of rural England to get back in touch with the values on which he had founded his business career.
Long before he became famous for churning out low budget and exploitation films, Beaudine was considered one of Hollywood's top directors. He had started in movies as an extra and all-round gopher in 1909, moving up to second unit direction in 1911 and becoming a director in his own right in 1915. He earned his nickname, "One Shot" during the silent era not because of any excessive economy but for his habit of cutting in the camera and his knack for knowing when a mistake could be fixed inexpensively in post-production rather than through a costly re-take. His work impressed Mary Pickford, who hired him to direct her in Little Annie Rooney (1925) and Sparrows (1926), and by the end of the silent era, he was one of the industry's top-paid directors. Then a run-in with an executive at Columbia Pictures seriously affected his work opportunities.
Nonetheless, Beaudine was making $2,000 a week when he, along with Raoul Walsh and Alan Dwan, heeded a call from Great Britain to help upgrade their film industry. Although much of his work there was on quota quickies, movies made to fill the government demand that 20 percent of films shown in British theatres be British productions, he brought them to a very high level. On Father Takes a Walk, Beaudine gave Graetz's trek through the British countryside some of the same grace he had captured for Sparrows. Unfortunately, the director's three years in England hurt his career. When he returned to Hollywood, nobody remembered him, and he had trouble finding work outside of series films such as Warner's Torchy Blane pictures and Monogram's Bowery Boys franchise.
Like many of the Teddington films, Father Takes a Walk features a fascinating cast. Paul Graetz had only recently arrived from Germany, where he had worked with such giants as Ernst Lubitsch and F.W. Murnau. His work at Teddington brought him a chance to move to Hollywood, though he died only two years later, before he could build much of a career in U.S. films. His on-screen traveling companion, Kenneth Villiers, would play his most notable role a year later as the young space traveler in H.G. Wells' Things to Come (1936). Forbes was the daughter of stage legend James Forbes-Robertson and would marry another stage great, Ralph Richardson, in 1944.
The film's most prominent cast member was Bouchier, who through talent, star quality and sheer longevity, would become one of the legends of British filmmaking. She had started in the movies in the '20s, rising to fame in the late silent era as England's first sex star, a wild flapper in the mold of Clara Bow. After signing on with Herbert Wilcox's British & Dominions Film Corporation to star in Carnival (1931), she rose to even greater acclaim as a serious actress. After repeatedly turning down Wilcox's sexual advances, she fell from stardom, finding work in quota quickies such asFather Takes a Walk, the only way she could pay her bills. Teddington proved to be a good career move for her when another of their pictures, Gypsy (1937), made her a star again. Jack Warner then signed her with great enthusiasm and after a few more pictures at Teddington brought her to Hollywood, where he did nothing with her. She literally fled Los Angeles after an attempted rape, and Warner let her sink back into supporting roles. Her ability to hang on through all of that -- touring the provinces when she couldn't get film work and entertaining the troops during World War II -- added to her popularity. Two turns in the long running The Mousetrap and the British productions of Stephen Sondheim's Follies and A Little Night Music brought her a comeback in her seventies. When the British film industry celebrated its centennial in the late '90s, she was one of the few silent stars left. She published her memoirs, Shooting Star, in 1997. Her death two years later made headlines as great as any she had received when she was on top.
Producer: Irving Asher
Director: William Beaudine
Screenplay: Mary Roberts Rinehart, Brock Williams
Cinematography: Basil Emmott
Art Direction: Peter Proud
Cast: Paul Graetz (Jake Cohen), Violet Farebrother (Rachel Cohen), Chili Bouchier (Julia Levine), Mickey Brantford (Jack Cohen), Ralph Truman (Sam Cohen), Barry Livesey (Joe Levine), Kenneth Villiers (Bob West), Meriel Forbes (Sally O'Connor).
by Frank Miller
Father Takes a Walk
The film was released on television as Father Takes a Walk. The New York Times review notes that Paul Graetz was a German actor who had been exiled by the Nazis.