Cast & Crew
Sally Weston, a widow with two sons, Bob and Henry, leaves her native small Southern town for Harlem to provide better educational opportunities for her boys. Once in Harlem, however, Sally realizes that the city is a cold and friendless place, and because she has difficulty finding work, her savings begin to dwindle. Time passes, and after working at many low-paying and back-breaking jobs, Sally finally has saved enough money to open a coffee shop. While Sally is delighted with Bob, who is enthusiastic about his studies and wants to be a lawyer, she despairs over Henry, who soon turns to delinquency. As Bob becomes an honor student and captain of the football team, Henry continues on a downward spiral into gambling and petty crimes. Following his graduation from college, Bob marries his coed sweetheart Betty and passes his bar examinations. Henry, meanwhile, is expelled from school. During this time, Sally's best friend, Police Officer James, proposes marriage to her, but she refuses, declaring that she must devote her attention to her boys. Bob and Betty eventually move into a beautiful apartment and invite Sally to live with them. Henry gets deeper into trouble after falling in with a group of gamblers in the employ of Bull Connors, a gambling house owner. When Connors tries to involve Bob in his illicit activities, Bob refuses and punches him. Connors vows revenge, and when he learns that Henry is Bob's brother, he makes Henry the club manager moments before a police raid, thus setting him up to take the punishment and bringing disgrace on the Weston family. One evening, when safecracker Slug Finney, one of Connors' men, attempts to break into his boss's safe in a darkened room, he is caught and killed by an unseen gunman. Later, one of Connors' men finds Henry standing over Finney's body holding a gun, and calls the police. After Henry, who now calls himself Monte Howard, is taken into custody, Bob is deputized as public defender and assigned to handle Howard's case, unaware that Howard is his brother. Bob is shocked when he discovers who he has been assigned to defend. During the trial, as things begin to look bad for Henry, Bob cross-examines Connors and reveals him as the real murderer. Following Connors' confession, Henry is vindicated, and he vows to reform his life. Realizing that his mother was happier in her old home in the South, Bob buys it for her and takes her back to live there.
A working title for the film was My Sons. According to the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, in September 1937 the PCA informed Ralph Cooper of Million Dollar Pictures, Inc. that "because of the suicide of a criminal," this story was not acceptable under the Production Code. Elaborating on this, the PCA wrote Cooper that the Code prohibited the showing of "a murderer escaping justice through suicide." According to the pressbook for the film, this was "Louise Beavers' first all-Negro picture." Life Goes On was re-released in the late 1940s by Toddy Pictures under the title His Harlem Wife.