GenreDrama Story byMary M. Axelson CountryUnited States
Elliott Nugent (co-director) Release dateSeptember 10, 1932 (1932-09-10) WriterMary M. Axelson (play), Earl Baldwin (screen adaptation) DirectorsJames Flood, Elliott Nugent CastLoretta Young (Grace Sutton), Eric Linden (Jed Sutton), Aline MacMahon (Miss Bowers), Glenda Farrell (Florette Darien), Clara Blandick (Mrs. West), Preston Foster (Dr. Brett) Similar moviesMad Max: Fury Road, Southland Tales, Jamon Jamon, Expecting, Mad Max, If These Walls Could Talk
TaglineIs It a Masterpiece or Menace?
Life Begins is a 1932 American pre-Code drama film starring Loretta Young, Eric Linden, Aline MacMahon and Glenda Farrell. The film was adapted from the play of the same name by Mary M. Axelson. It was released by Warner Bros. on September 10, 1932. The film was praised for its honest portrayal of a maternity ward.
At a maternity hospital, future fathers pace the corridors while their wives wait for their babies either anxiously or happily. Efficient and compassionate nurse Miss Bowers keeps the ward running smoothly.
Things liven up when Grace Sutton is transferred from the prison where she is being held for murder. Most agree that the man she killed deserved to die, and Nurse Bowers sympathetically allows Grace's concerned husband Jed unlimited time with his wife.
In the ward, the women have varied feelings about motherhood. Mrs. West, a mother of six children, thinks babies are what give meaning to women's lives. In contrast, Florette, a showgirl, just wants to get rid of her twins as soon as possible. Miss Layton has decided opinions about child rearing and has no intention of being a doting mother. While the women debate their various theories, a woman who wants a baby so much that she has become demented wanders in from another ward. An Italian woman quietly sobs when she learns that her newborn has died.
After a touching farewell with Jed, Grace, whose health has suffered from prison conditions, is taken into the labor room. While Jed waits anxiously, Florette is appalled by the plans that the prospective adoptive mother of her twins has concocted. She cradles one baby herself and discovers mother love. Miss Layton has also given up on her progressive plans for her baby.
Down the hall, things are going badly for Grace. When the doctors ask Jed to choose between saving Grace or the baby, he chooses Grace, but she herself insists that the doctors operate and save the baby. After she dies, Jed refuses to see the baby girl, but wise Nurse Bowers places the child in his arms, and as with the mothers, he cannot resist her charms.
Loretta Young as Grace Sutton
Eric Linden as Jed Sutton
Aline MacMahon as Miss Bowers
Glenda Farrell as Florette Darien
Clara Blandick as Mrs. West
Preston Foster as Dr. Brett
Frank McHugh as Ringer Banks
Walter Walker as Dr. Tubby
Hale Hamilton as Dr. Cramm
Vivienne Osborne as Mrs. McGilvary
The film's pre-release titles were "Give Me a Child and Woman's Day". The movie was remade by Warner Bros. in 1939 as A Child is Born. The censors expressed concern at the directness of the movie's subject, but it was acceptable for Warner Bros. to re-release the film in 1936. However, the movie was banned in London.
Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times writes in his movie review: "It is a film endowed with fine performances by most of the players; the settings are realistic and the direction is of a high order. There are also some excellent character delineations, but the main thread of the story is disappointing. It is dragged out, and the closing interludes possess little in the way of drama. There is also too much harping on harrowing details."