Clarence Brown directed this heart-tugging piece of Americana, set during the Civil War era. Walter Huston plays a stern family patriarch, a preacher who thrusts his family into poverty in order to set an example for his parishioners. As a result, his son (James Stewart) grows up to resent him. He looks to travel East and go to medical school, but his father's iron-fisted vow of poverty holds him back from education. Defying the father, his mother (Beulah Bondi) sells off part of her dowry to finance her son's education. The young man travels East and becomes so embroiled in his studies he neglects to stay in contact with his family, returning only when he receives news of his father's death. After father's passing, he goes off to war as a doctor, leaving his mother abandoned back home. Having heard nothing from her son since his departure for the Civil War, mother thinks he may have died and contacts President Lincoln (John Carradine) to investigate his whereabouts. Surprisingly, Lincoln responds to the mother's pleas and seeks to find out about the status of her son.
by Paul Brenner synopsis