Pilgrimage (1933)

Pilgrimage (1933)

“All right, son: if you love her, you can’t love me.”

A domineering widow (Henrietta Crosman) is so disapproving of her son (Norman Foster) dating a girl (Marion Nixon) from “across the tracks” that she signs her son up to fight in World War I, where he’s killed. Years later, Crosman refuses to interact either with Nixon or her grandson (Jay Ward), but experiences a gradual change of heart when she travels to Europe as a Gold Star Mother.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • John Ford Films
  • Single Mothers
  • Soldiers
  • Widows and Widowers
  • World War I

This Fox Studios outing by the ever-prolific John Ford is notable for showcasing Gold Star Mothers (an organization which first convened in 1928 to support mothers of soldiers killed during service), and for presenting a true Mother-From-Hell — albeit one who undergoes an enormous transformation thanks to a remarkably coincidental series of events later in the film. Ford’s sure directorial hand is in full evidence here, and Crosman gives a fine performance, but the storyline overall doesn’t quite work for me; we’re asked to invest in a character whose bullish behavior isn’t sufficiently explained or given any kind of back-story. Only Ford fans need seek this one out.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Henrietta Crosman as Mrs. Hannah Jessop
  • Marion Nixon as Mary
  • Fine cinematography

Must See?
No, though Ford fans will want to check it out.


One thought on “Pilgrimage (1933)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see – but not because I think there’s anything particularly wrong with it. I agree that the film shows Ford’s confident directorial hand – and I’m not bothered about any kind of lack of explanation re: the mother.

    It’s a bit dated but it does hold some historical interest. I find it sufficiently engaging. Ford’s fans won’t be disappointed.

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