A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that kids may be especially disconcerted by Mary's reaction to the news of Jay's accident, before she learns that he has been killed. (Please note -- while this movie isn't currently available on DVD, it is available via certain Internet streaming/instant viewing options.)
What's the story?
Set in 1815 Tennessee, ALL THE WAY HOME is a story about Jay (Robert Preston) and Mary (Jean Simmons), who are deeply in love, though she disapproves of his drinking and he thinks she is too rigid in her piety and primness about sex. They are loving parents to their little boy, Rufus, give him comfort and guidance and enjoy him very much. When Jay is killed in an accident, Mary and Rufus must try to make sense of the tragedy and find a way to go on.
Is it any good?
This impactful drama is filled with moments of great insight and poignance. The movie's based on the James Agee novel A Death in the Family and its adaptation for the theater by Tad Mosel, both awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Its many memorable characters include Jay, who's a warm and wise father. In the first scene, Jay and Rufus enjoy a Charlie Chaplin movie together. As they walk home together, viewers feel their closeness and the pleasure they feel in spending time with each other. When Rufus is shy in the presence of an elderly relative, Jay shows him that he can talk to her. Mary is loving and devoted, but finds it very hard to talk about her feelings, and especially to talk about sex. When Jay tells Mary it is time let Rufus know that they are going to have another baby, all she can manage to say is that they are expecting a surprise from heaven. After Jay's death, Mary has to deal with Rufus' grief, as well as her own. And she has to find the best of Jay within herself, so she can give that to Rufus.
Kids may be especially disconcerted by Mary's reaction to the news of Jay's accident, before she learns that he has been killed. She goes through a variety of emotions while she waits with her aunt for news. She laughs over a story Jay had told her, nervously checks the tea kettle to see if it has boiled yet, prepares a downstairs room in case he is well enough to be nursed at home, and prays for his life. Discuss with children and teens the way that the stress of uncertainty and the unwillingness to believe that her husband is dead produce this seemingly contradictory and even uncaring reaction.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Mary and Jay disagree on. How can you tell? Are those differences part of what makes them attractive to each other? Why does Rufus tell the minister and his uncle that they can't sit in his father's chair? How does Mary become more like Jay after his death? Why?
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