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Posted November 09, 2010 to photo album "Father-Daughter Movies"
Inspired by Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, resident film historian David Parkinson looks back over the history of films that focus on father-daughter relationships.
Slide 3: The Wartime Father - Journey for Margaret (1942)
Adapted from a bestselling memoir by journalist William L. White, Journey for Margaret saw unconventional father-daughter relationships forged both before and behind the camera. The screen story centres on US war correspondent John Davis (Robert Young), who remains in London after his wife Nora (Laraine Day) returns home after losing their unborn child during the Blitz. However, the emotionally shattered reporter finds new hope in two young orphans – Peter Humphreys (William Severn) and Margaret White (Margaret O'Brien) – whom he attempts to adopt and bring back to the United States. With its simple, if sentimental message, Journey for Margaret made quite an impression on wartime America, with its themes of sacrifice and courage resonating with audiences whose loved ones were themselves about to face the enemy. As the film's prologue explains: “The Margaret of this story is real. She hopes, with the rest of us, for ever lasting peace after the war is won. This picture is dedicated to her. This is a small dedication. The great dedication is being made by millions of men and women who are fighting on far-flung battlefronts for all the Margarets of the world." Billed as Major W.S. Van Dyke II, the film's director was well aware of the picture's propaganda value. But, during its production, he also found himself becoming caught up in its emotional side. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Van Dyke (who was a devout Christian Scientist, who refused any treatment) became increasingly protective of his five year-old star, Angela Maxine O'Brien, whose own circus performer father had died when she was a baby. Under Van Dyke's paternalistic tutelage, O'Brien came to identify so closely with her character that she changed her name to Margaret and went on to become one of Hollywood's most beloved child stars. However, her new beginning proved to be Van Dyke's swan song, as he committed suicide shortly after the film's release. But he left behind an exhortation to carry on in the face of adversity that remains poignant seven decades later.