Adam Had Four Sons

Adam Had Four Sons is a 1941 drama and romance film directed by Gregory Ratoff and starring Ingrid Bergman, Warner Baxter, Susan Hayward and Fay Wray.[1] The supporting cast features Richard Denning and June Lockhart.[2]

Adam Had Four Sons
Italian film poster
Directed byGregory Ratoff
Produced byRobert E. Sherwood
Screenplay byWilliam Hurlbut
Michael Blankfort
Based onLegacy
1940 novel
by Charles Bonner
StarringIngrid Bergman
Warner Baxter
Susan Hayward
Fay Wray
Music byW. Franke Harling
Rudy Schrager
CinematographyJ. Peverell Marley
Edited byFrancis D. Lyon
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
February 18, 1941
Running time
81 min.
CountryUnited States
Budget$488,000 est.


Adam Stoddard (Warner Baxter) is a wealthy, easy-going family patriarch who falls on hard times after the death of his wife Molly (Fay Wray) and a stock market crash in 1907 that wipes out his wealth. Recently arrived governess Emilie (Ingrid Bergman) works to keep the family together. But with the loss of Adam's fortune, the boys are sent off to boarding school, their schooling paid for by wealthy, aged Cousin Phillipa (Helen Westley). Emilie must return to France until Adam can afford to repurchase the family estate and recall her to look after it. Reversing his fortunes takes Adam several years. By then, the three older boys are fighting in World War I. Then, just as the family is getting back to its former way of life...

One son, David (Johnny Downs) returns with his new wife, Hester (Susan Hayward), who turns out be a conniving, evil woman wanting to rule the roost. Cousin Phillipa figures out the false Hester, dying before she can tell Adam. Hester schemes to rid the home of Emilie, and seduces another son, Jack (Richard Denning), while her husband is away at war. Emilie discovers the affair, but keeps quiet to preserve Adam's happiness and the brother's reputation, pretending to Adam that she was the one involved with Jack. Later, when David returns, Hester inadvertently exclaims "Oh, Jack" while David is caressing her. Realizing her infidelity, David leaves to commit suicide by flying a plane and crashing on a stormy night. Yet, he is hospitalized and survives. Ultimately, all is discovered, and Hester receives her comeuppance and is evicted from the home. Emilie and Adam become engaged, and all ends happily.

(The youngest brother, Phillip, is involved with their neighbor, Vance.)


Older Boys:

Younger Boys:

  • Billy Ray as Jack
  • Steven Muller as David
  • Wallace Chadwell as Chris
  • Bobby Walberg as Phillip


  1. "Adam Had Four Sons". FilmAffinity. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  2. "Adam Had Four Sons". AFI Catalof of Feature Films. Retrieved 21 December 2015.

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