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Divorce in the Family

Divorce in the Family(1932)

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Divorce in the Family (1932)

Separate from his enormously popular buddy pictures with Wallace Beery, MGM's talented child star Jackie Cooper starred in other, smaller comedies and family dramas. 1932's Divorce in the Family sees Jackie once again winning over audiences by crying on cue. Little Terry Parker returns from a sleep-away camp to find his scientist father (Lewis Stone) replaced by an unwelcome stepfather (Conrad Nagel). Mother Lois Wilson hopes both of her sons will accept the change, but Terry rebels when Nagel clamps down with new house rules, such as prohibiting Terry from playing in the kitchen with his pet lizard. The miserable Terry finally runs away, his lower lip jutting out in protest. But his older brother Al (Maurice Murphy) almost drowns looking for him. Seeing his new stepdad donate blood to save Al's life, Terry dries his tears and decides that, "having two fathers is not so bad after all." Reviewers of the time gave equal praise to newcomer Jean Parker in a supporting role, and a comic dog that sleeps with one eye open. Jackie Cooper remained an audience favorite, especially when he re-teamed with Wallace Beery in Treasure Island. Lewis Stone would earn a second chance at proper fatherhood in the long running Andy Hardy series, as a wise paterfamilias and advisor to Mickey Rooney.

By Glenn Erickson

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