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Hearts of Humanity (September 1, 1932)

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Jean Hersholt in Hearts of Humanity

Released September 1, 1932: A fascinating view of family life in the 'Melting Pot' of New York City as people from around the world work to create new lives.

Directed by Christy Cabanne

The Actors: Jean Hersholt (Sol Bloom), Jackie Searl (Shandy O'Hara), J. Farrell MacDonald (Tom O'Hara), Claudia Dell (Ruth Sneider), Charles Delaney (Tom Varney), Lucille La Verne (Mrs. Sneider), Richard Wallace (Joey Bloom), George Humbert (Tony), Betty Jane Graham (Hilda), John Vosburgh (Dave Haller), Tom McGuire (Mr. Wells).

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These days many good American citizens that live along our nation's border carry guns and feel justified in shooting anyone trying to enter the country along the long border. Since the 9-11 attacks our national borders are locked up tighter than at any time in our history, and the future only promises a tighter border, which will try to keep out any people that would do us harm. Unfortunately it will also keep out some of the struggling people that are looking for a fair chance at a better life. Back in 1932 the United States was a very different place. People from around the world made their way to America, many entering the country at New York City. All that was required before they entered the country was to sign our guest registry at Ellis Island.

This is the story of some people from Europe who fought for a better life, showing us the hardships and blessings that they experienced along the way. If you are the kind of person that gets misty-eyed at sappy, sweet, sad and happy movies, you will not only need a big bowl of white kernel popcorn, but also a big box of Kleenex . . . a big box. You will experience the reality of life and death . . . lots of death . . . in this drama of immigrant life in 1932 New York City.

Our drama begins with Sol Bloom, who owns a little store that he lives behind with his little boy Joey. His wife died years ago and he is bringing up Joey the best that he can, but Joey is a bit out of control, stealing oranges from a neighboring store whenever he can. Tom O'Hara is the cop that patrols the neighborhood, and he lives in an apartment above Sol's store. He is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his wife and young son on their way from Ireland to join him in America. Ruth is a young lady of the neighborhood who likes a young cop from the neighborhood, but really falls for a slick fellow with a brand new car who sweeps her off her feet. But it turns out that the slick fellow is making his money by producing bootleg gin, and it isn't good stuff. Something is wrong with his distilling process, and people who drink his gin are going blind.

O.K. now that we know the cast, let's get this show on the road. After work Tom O'Hara is in his apartment above Sol's store when he gets a telegram informing him that his wife has died on the ship heading towards New York, and was buried at sea . . . he will never see her again. His young boy Shandy is still on the ship headed to New York, so Tom will also be bringing up his boy without the help of a mother. But don't grab the hanky yet, we are still on the steep first downward hill of this roller coaster ride. Later that night someone breaks into Sol's store, and while Sol is going through the store in the dark, he presses a button that rings a buzzer upstairs in policeman Tom O'Hara's apartment, and Tom makes his way downstairs to the store. Before Tom can get his gun out, he is shot and killed by the intruder, who vanishes into the night streets after killing Tom. With his last dying words, Tom asks Sol to get his boy Shandy when he arrives on the boat and look after him, because he will not have any living relatives in America and will be all alone, without a mother or father. Sol promises, and soon Shandy arrives and learns that his father is dead, and he will live with Sol, a man he never met before in his life.

All right, it's time to pull the box of Kleenex a bit closer, as we watch the lives of the youngsters, young adults, and old folks as their lives are pushed together in the melting pot that is 1932 America. This is not Walton's Mountain, but it is another story about the people of this great country as they struggle to find security and happiness in this brave new world.