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Life Begins (1932 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Life Begins
Movie poster
Directed byJames Flood
Screenplay byEarl Baldwin
Based onLife Begins
1932 play
by Mary McDougal Axelson
Produced byDarryl F. Zanuck
StarringLoretta Young
Eric Linden
Aline MacMahon
Glenda Farrell
CinematographyJames Van Trees
Edited byGeorge Marks
Music byLeo F. Forbstein
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • September 10, 1932 (1932-09-10)
Running time
71 minutes
CountryUnited States

Life Begins is a 1932 American pre-Code drama film starring Loretta Young, Eric Linden, Aline MacMahon, and Glenda Farrell. The film was adapted from the 1932 play of the same name by Mary M. Axelson.[1][2][3] It was released by Warner Bros. on September 10, 1932. The film was praised for its honest portrayal of a maternity ward.

The film was remade by Warner Bros. as A Child is Born (1939) and again by Italy's Lux Film as Love Story (1942).

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At a maternity hospital, future fathers pace the corridors while their wives wait for their babies either anxiously or happily. Efficient and compassionate nurse Miss Bowers keeps the ward running smoothly.

Things liven up when Grace Sutton is transferred from the prison where she is being held for murder. Most agree that the man she killed deserved to die, and Nurse Bowers sympathetically allows Grace's concerned husband Jed unlimited time with his wife.

In the ward, the women have varied feelings about motherhood. Mrs. West, a mother of six children, thinks babies are what give meaning to women's lives. In contrast, Florette, a showgirl, just wants to get rid of her twins as soon as possible. Miss Layton has decided opinions about child rearing and has no intention of being a doting mother. While the women debate their various theories, a woman who wants a baby so much that she has become demented wanders in from another ward. An Italian woman quietly sobs when she learns that her newborn has died.

After a touching farewell with Jed, Grace, whose health has suffered from prison conditions, is taken into the labor room. While Jed waits anxiously, Florette is appalled by the plans that the prospective adoptive mother of her twins has concocted. She cradles one baby herself and discovers mother love. Miss Layton has also given up on her progressive plans for her baby.

Down the hall, things are going badly for Grace. When the doctors ask Jed to choose between saving Grace or the baby, he chooses Grace, but she herself insists that the doctors operate and save the baby. After she dies, Jed refuses to see the baby girl, but wise Nurse Bowers places the child in his arms, and as with the mothers, he cannot resist her charms.



The film's pre-release titles were "Give Me a Child and Woman's Day". The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America expressed concern at the directness of the movie's subject, but in 1936, when the Hays Code was being enforced, still considered it acceptable for Warner Bros. to re-release the film. However, a large number of local, state, and international censor boards heavily edited the film or banned it completely.[4] The British Board of Film Censors banned the film.[5][6]


Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times wrote in his movie review: "It is a film endowed with fine performances by most of the players; the settings are realistic and the direction is of a high order. There are also some excellent character delineations, but the main thread of the story is disappointing. It is dragged out, and the closing interludes possess little in the way of drama. There is also too much harping on harrowing details."[7]


  1. ^ "Life Begins". Moviefone. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  2. ^ "Life Begins (1932) Review, with Loretta Young, Eric Linden and Glenda Farrell". February 11, 2016. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  3. ^ "Life Begins (1932)". All Movie. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  4. ^ Kirby, David A. (September 2017). "Regulating cinematic stories about reproduction: pregnancy, childbirth, abortion and movie censorship in the US, 1930–1958". The British Journal for the History of Science. 50 (3): 451–472. doi:10.1017/S0007087417000814. ISSN 0007-0874. PMID 28923130.
  5. ^ "Life Begins". American Film Institute: Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  6. ^ Robertson, James C. (1993). The hidden cinema : British film censorship in action, 1913-1975. London: Routledge. ISBN 9780203990070. OCLC 191951726.
  7. ^ Hall, Mordaunt (August 26, 1932). "Movie Review: Aline MacMahon and Loretta Young in a Film Version of a Play by Mrs. Axelson". The New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2016.

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This page was last edited on 21 May 2024, at 23:53
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