Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Technically, Mother Machree was director John Ford's first sound film -- even though the sound was limited to a Fox Movietone musical score and sound-effects track. The story begins in a tiny Irish village at the turn of the century. Having lost her husband to a lightning storm, Ellen McHugh (Belle Bennett) vows to take her son Brian (Phillipe de Lacey) away from Ireland and bring him up in America. Upon her arrival in the States, Ellen is unable to secure a job, forcing her to accept employment as a fabricated "freak" with the carnival side show managed by rowdy Terrence O'Dowd (Victor McLaglen) Her meager earnings are hardly enough to finance her son's education, so Ellen tearfully allows the wealthy principal of the school to legally adopt her boy. As the years pass, Brian grows into manhood believing that his mother is dead. Now a lawyer (and now played by Neil Hamilton), Brian is unaware that his mother is working as a housekeeper in a ritzy 5th Avenue household. He falls in love with Rachel Van Studdiford (Eulalie Jensen), the girl whom Ellen has raised from infancy. Upon being introduced to Ellen's beloved "nanny," Brian is at last reunited with his mother -- just seconds before he is called away to serve in WWI. Unfortunately, Mother Machree, along with most of John Ford's silent films, apparently no longer exists.
adoption, immigrant, Irish [nationality], mother, nanny, single-parent, son, village