Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Director King Vidor intended An American Romance as the third entry in his "War, Wheat and Steel" trilogy (the War had been covered in The Big Parade, while Wheat was dispensed with in Our Daily Bread). Two years in production, the film cost nearly $3 million-little of which actually shows up on screen due to heavy post-production editing and rearranging of scenes. Brian Donlevy stars as immigrant laborer Steve Dangon, who becomes convinced early on that the only way he'll get anywhere in life is to accumulate huge sums of money. He takes a job in a midwestern steel mill, calculatedly working his way up the ladder from foreman to owner of an auto manufacturing firm. Though he regards himself as a "man of the people", Dangon resists the efforts of his workers to form a union.--even when his son Teddy (Horace McNally) is won over to the workers' point of view. A bitter three-month strike forces Dangon's board of directors to give in to the workers' wishes Disillusioned, Dangon retires from his business, but returns to work determined to switch over to the manufacture of airplanes when WW2 creates a demand for defense products. The "documentary" aspects of the story are far more compelling that the dramatic passages, with Donlevy's performance vacillating from strong to so-so. Minus any real star names (the leading lady is MGM contractee Ann Richards, a graduate of short subjects), An American Romance flopped at the box office, and Vidor in later years tended to dismiss the film as a misfire, severly damaged by studio tampering. The currently available 121-minute version stands up reasonably well, leading one to wonder if the film was not actually improved by MGM's insistence (over Vidor's protests) upon removing 30 minutes from the running time.
immigrant, survivor, aerial, America, business, car, development, dishonesty, industrialist, industry, iron [metal], labor-relations, life, mine, power, striker, success, union [labor union], wealth