Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

United Kingdom 1960
Directed by
Jack Cardiff
98 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Sons And Lovers

D. H. Lawrence’s semi-autobiographical story tells of a young man (Dean Stockwell) caught between his devotion to his mother (Wendy Hillier) and his romantic dreams of escaping the dreary dead–end of his home town and his drunken, boorish coal miner father (Trevor Howard). Rather surprisingly the Twentieth Century Fox production was nominated for seven Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor (Trevor Howard, who despite top billing had only a supporting role), Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Art Direction. "Surprisingly", because although Freddie Francis’s rich black and white cinematography is particularly impressive in treating of the North of England setting (and won the film its only Oscar), as an adaptation the film is more diligent than inspirational and is consequently largely forgotten these days.

Stockwell, who was then shaping up to be a hot property as a teen star was cast in the lead role of Paul Morel but his well-spoken public school English stands out rather oddly from his cloth cap, working class background (not to mention his Californian T-shirt tan visible late in the film). Much the same applies to Heather Sears as Miriam, the romance between the two, which provides a major component of Lawrence's novel, being given rather scant attention, as for that matter is the affair between Paul and Clara Dawes (Mary Ure). On the other hand Wendy Hillier (in a role originally offered to Joan Collins!) is typically effective as his idolized, long-suffering mother and Howard nails the bitter and broken father who understands the family dynamics with unvarnished directness.

The scenes between these two are the film's strongest with director Cardiff, whose best work was as a cinematographer, notably for Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's production company The Archers, never really managing to invest proceedings with much dramatic vigour, and in the latter stages Paul's moonings about love and freedom starting to feel rather dated.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst