Four Sons

This article is about the 1928 film. For the remake, see Four Sons (1940 film).
Four Sons

Original 1928 film poster
Directed by John Ford
Produced by
Written by
  • Philip Klein
Based on "Grandmother Bernle Learns Her Letters"
by I. A. R. Wylie
  • Charles G. Clarke
  • George Schneiderman
Edited by Margaret Clancey
Distributed by Fox Film Corporation
Release dates
  • February 12, 1928 (1928-02-12) (USA)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Box office $1.5 million[1]

Four Sons is a 1928 silent drama film directed and produced by John Ford and written for the screen by Philip Klein from a story by I. A. R. Wylie first published in the Saturday Evening Post as "Grandmother Bernle Learns Her Letters" (1926). It is one of only a handful of survivors out of the more than fifty silent films that Ford directed between 1917 and 1928. It starred Margaret Mann, James Hall, and Charles Morton. The film is also notable for the presence of the young John Wayne in an uncredited role as an officer. Though "silent," it was released with a Movietone music and sound effects track.

A family is torn apart by the advent of World War I. It was remade in 1940 with the same title, starring Don Ameche and Eugenie Leontovich, and directed by Archie Mayo, although the war was updated to World War II.


Mother Bernle is a widow in Bavaria with four sons: Franz, Johann, Andreas and Joseph.

Joseph receives a job offer from the United States, and he is given money to travel there by his mother.

The First World War is heating up. Franz, who is already serving in the German army, is joined by first Johann and then Andreas who is forced into the army after the village learns that Joseph joined the American army. Franz and Johann are killed on the eastern front. After Andreas is forced into the army, he is wounded on the western front and dies in his brother Joseph's arms.

In America, Joseph has married and is running a delicatessen. when America enters the war, Joseph enlists to fight for the American side. This causes problems for Mother Bernle, who is shunned in her village.


The Academy Film Archive preserved Four Sons in 1999.[2]



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