Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

(Please note the films reviewed on this site contain plot summaries and may contain SPOILERS.)

  • The Younger Generation (1929) - Plot Summary - In that great melting pot, New York's Lower East Side, lives poor immigrant family the Goldfishes. Papa, Julius Goldfish (Jean Hersholt), operates a push-cart and likes to spend his time joking with his pals rather than making money - he is devoted to daughter Birdie. Mama pushes Papa to "think big" and try to make more money - Papa believes that money is no good if it can't buy happiness. Mama is devoted to her son Morris (who she calls "Morris, my life" and always gives the big one - bread that is) - - she believes he will be a big, successful businessman one day, and she's so right. Morris grows up and starts a second-hand furniture store with Papa, soon to become the more successful "Goldfish & Son Antiques", and before you know it, Morris has become a big antiques dealer and moved the whole family to a Fifth Avenue mansion. Baths, bow ties, formal attire for dinner, a butler - Papa is miserable here! Mama seems pretty happy, all gowned and bejeweled, but Birdie is daddy's girl and both she and Papa think they'd be happier living back on the East Side. Morris won't hear of it as he is trying to climb the ladder in society - he starts on the road to the darker side by changing his too Jewish-sounding name to "Maurice Fish", and it gets worse. Meanwhile, beautiful twentyish Birdie still loves her childhood sweetie, Eddie, who Morris never liked. Eddie, a song writer, gets tricked into performing a song in front of a jewelry store as a distraction while inside, unknown to him, his cohorts are committing a robbery. Eddie's in trouble and faces a prison sentence, but not before Birdie secretly marries him. Now brother Morris goes over the top, kicks her out of the house, and leaves the parents to believe she's run off without a word. He then proceeds to keep her letters hidden from the parents, for two years they don't know what happened to her! He humiliates his parents and it continues to get worse - will Papa ever get to see his beloved Birdie again?!

    Review - This is a well done silent film that includes several talkie scenes with dialogue and synchronized soundtrack of music that matches pretty nicely with the story. Interesting camera work and tracking shots, plus art direction enhance the film. Quite well acted, particularly by Jean Hersholt and the actress who plays mama, both giving sensitive portrayals of the trod-upon immigrant parents of a major social climber. Hmm - just a small pet peeve, doesn't affect the film, but the little girl who plays Birdie as a child - as cute as she is, looks absolutely nothing like the grown-up Birdie as played by Lena Basquette. Interesting to note, I sometimes didn't even notice when the film switched from silent to talkie I was so involved in the story - that always happens to me with these silents that include a few talking scenes (example, "The Jazz Singer"). Rating - * 8.5 to 9/10 stars *

    Director: Frank Capra
    Film Genre: Soap Melodrama
    Film Runtime: 84 minutes


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RATINGS KEY:

10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed




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