The Law of Contact

In Love With Life (May 12, 1934)

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In Love With Life

Released on May 12, 1934: Professor John Sylvestus Applegate needs a job, and he becomes the private tutor to a young boy who is being taken in by his sour old grandfather. Gramps is sending his daughter away, never to see her son again, as the price for bringing up junior in a wealthy environment.

Directed by Frank R. Strayer

The Actors: Lila Lee (Sharon), Dickie Moore (Laurence 'Laury' Applegate), Onslow Stevens (Professor John Applegate), Claude Gillingwater (Morley), Rosita Marstini (Brouquet), James T. Mack (Stevens), Clarence Geldart (Barlow), Tom Ricketts (bood store proprietor), William Arnold (Townsend), The Meglin Kiddies (floor show performers at the Kiddie Kabaret), Tommy Bupp (one of the Meglin Kiddies), Milla Davenport (Mrs. Gootz), Lloyd Ingraham (Forbes), Betty Kendig (Marie).

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Grab your bowl of white kernel popcorn, and while you are at it, get a box of Kleenex also . . . just in case. This motion picture came out in 1934, in the middle of the Great Depression, but it begins in June of 1929, a few months before the stock market crash of October and the beginning of bad times. In one scene we watch as an auctioneer sells all of the houeshold belongings and home of the once wealthy grandfather. It reminds me of my own grandfather, 'Pap,' and how he lost his house and had it sold at a Sheriff's auction. Pap had a farm that was bought out by the town of Youngstown to become part of a new reservoir for the growing area's water supply. With the newfound money he got, he bought a house on Palmyra Road near Canfield, Ohio, and at the advice of his banker invested the rest into down payments for several houses in the city of Youngstown. The theory was that he would rent out the houses, and the rent would be enough to make the payments on the loans for the homes, and in the end he would multiply his money many times over. A plan that couldn't lose, right? Wrong. When times got bad, and no one could afford to rent his homes, the bank repossessed the houses, and he was left with a pile of debt that he had no hope of repaying. The bank even took over the house he lived in, to help repay the loans. So on the day of the auction, with the crowd of neighbors that were there to watch and maybe pick up a bargain, the auction began, and Pap would soon be homeless. Uncle Dellas, one of dad's brothers, had a little money saved, but probably not nearly enough to outbid the others. He gave a small bid anyway, and when the neighbors saw that he was trying to buy his father's home, they stopped bidding on the house, and Uncle Dellas got the house back as a very small price. Uncle Dellas never married, and he and Pap lived in that house for as long as they remained. I remember visiting them in that house many times as a young boy, and never forgot the story dad had told me about how Pap almost lost it because of a bad economy.

Our movie opens with Professor Applegate, who is offered a job as a private tutor to a young boy. When he goes to the home to be interviewed for the position, he discovers that the boy is the grandson of a wealthy old gentleman. The man's daughter had run away from home several years ago with a man that her father didn't approve of, and he died before the son was born, leaving mother and son in severe poverty. She finally goes back home to wealthy father, and he agrees to bring up her son, his grandson, spending his great wealth on the boy. But there is one condition - the mother, who ran away from home and broke her father's heart many years ago, must leave and never see her son or her father again. She agrees, and leaves in sadness. So Professor Applegate becomes like a father to the boy, with grandpa's money, treating the lad to the best that the world has to offer. But the boy still misses his mother terribly, and Professor Applegate misses her a bit also. He visits her and keeps her informed about her son, and helps her get a job.

The grandfather is approaced by his bankers about selling his interest in the bank because of a South America deal, and grandpa gets angry and says that he will do the South American deal himself, and not sell out to another party. And he will guarantee all of the other investors in the bank, so that they will not worry. Well, this is June of 1929, and in October, when the world falls apart, grandpa will lose every penny he has in order to repay the other investors in his bank, and winds up more broke than his daughter. Not to worry though, in 1934 while some businessmen are jumping to their death out of upper floor windows, our movie is deliberately named, "In Love With Life," so you know that you will need those Kleenex as you watch this roller coaster of a ride, but in the end, family love will unite them all in a 'happily every after' kind of way.