Films, Books, Musings-With the Glamour of Old Hollywood and the Flair of the Retro

One Foot in Heaven- A Movie Review

In Movies on September 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm


Warner Bros.1941. Blk/Wht.

One Foot in Heaven is based on Hartzell Spences’ biography of his preacher father, and the life of the Spence family. It begins with the decision by William Spence (Frederic March) to answer the call to become a Methodist minister rather than follow a career in medicine. His in-laws are upset at his change of career plan and the prospect of taking their daughter so far away from Canada to America.

Though upon hearing her new husbands’ decision, Hope Morris Spence (Martha Scott) claimed ” whither thou goest, I will go…”, she immediately finds life as a ministers’ wife difficult. Dr Spence is supportive and with his guidance she rallies.They have children and they move from town to town and live through WWI, a low ministers salary,uncomfortable living conditions, contention from parishoners and the changing times, all on the families’ ability to compromise and on the strength of their faith.

One Foot in Heaven was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture and credits Dr Norman Vincent Peale as technical advisor.Viewers who grew up as children of the clergy vouch for the realism of the movie and the conflicting feelings of teenagers growing up in a strict household.

The quality of acting, moments of humour and real life drama, such as running out of money for food and the anxiety the teenage children face at the inability to fit in with their peers, makes this movie relatable to a wide audience, despite its religious themes. It is a story of married love and family love and friendship, of faith and courage and persistence.

(As yet, this movie is not readily available on DVD, but can be viewed on TCM and some movie hire websites.)

  1. Love this! And love the vintage movie reviews. I am sooo jealous. We need to chat about hooking me into these. I’m hoping there’s an online service–maybe TCM? You are SO good at these reviews–succinct, engaging (sometimes heartwarming, others funny–or both), and informative.

    I’m going to try to “share” these w/ my folks and sister. We are old movie fans. But finding them has been the challenge.

    Swept away a bit in Labor Day Weekend here. Hopefully more in touch this week.

    God bless,

    • Thank you Rachel! You are the best commenter ever!
      I am going to start adding a link to purchase or rent the reviewed movie when I find out which companies are reputable and serve which country and I need to see what the wordpress rules are. Do you have any reccommendations? Did you mention Hulu?

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