A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
(1945)

The first film from 3 time Academy Award winning director Elia Kazan. James Dunnand PeggyAnn Garner won Academy Awards for their performances.  It is based on the autobiographical book by Betty Smith.

The Nolans are a poor Irish family living in a tenement in Brooklyn.  Johnny (James Dunn), the father, is an alcoholic who can not keep a job.  Katie (Dorothy McGuire), the mother, scrubs floors and does other jobs, and keeps the family together.  Everyone from the butcher to the librarian looks down on them and treats them badly.  Their social standing drops further when Katie's sister, who has had multiple marriages, divorces and remarries again.

Daughter Francie (Peggy Ann Garner) is intelligent and studious.  The father lies and falsifies their address to get her into a better school.  The teacher there is kind and encourages Francie to be a writer.

When mother becomes pregnant again, they have to move to a smaller cheaper apartment.  On Christmas eve, the children win a Christmas tree and have presents for their parents.  Shamed that his children are providing for the family instead of him, Johnny heads out into the cold night and disappears. Several days later, he is found dead of pneumonia.

The mother marries Officer McShane, the policeman who kept popping up and was always kind and helpful.  

Thanks Joseph C!