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A House Divided (1931)

In a small Pacific village, a widowed fisherman marries a girl young enough to be his daughter. Complications ensue when the new wife falls in love with her husband's son.


William Wyler


John B. Clymer (screenplay), Dale Van Every (screenplay) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview:
Walter Huston ... Seth Law
Douglass Montgomery ... Matt Law (as Kent Douglass)
Helen Chandler ... Ruth Evans
Mary Foy ... Mary
Lloyd Ingraham ... Doctor
Charles Middleton ... Minister
Frank Hagney ... Big Bill


In a small Pacific village, a widowed fisherman marries a girl young enough to be his daughter. Complications ensue when the new wife falls in love with her husband's son.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis









Release Date:

5 December 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Heart and Hand See more »

Filming Locations:

Laguna Beach, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Bette Davis was screen tested for this film. See more »


Referenced in Dallas: A House Divided (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

Very upsetting
22 September 2018 | by HotToastyRagSee all my reviews

There was no way for me to go back in time an hour and tell myself not to watch A House Divided, since time travel doesn't exist. How I wish it did, because then I wouldn't have had to watch this very upsetting movie. If you're renting it because of the interesting title, I'd tell you to rent Walter Huston's Abraham Lincoln instead to hear him say the famous phrase, but after sitting through that lousy movie, I can't recommend it in good conscience.

In A House Divided, Walter Huston is made out to be a royal jerk in the opening scene. He and his son, Douglass Montgomery, attend his wife's funeral, and as soon as it's over, he drags them to the local bar and gets rip-roaring drunk. He sings, dances, starts fistfights, and encourages his son to do the same. He has no intention of grieving or letting his son feel his feelings. Then, he sends away for a mail order bride so he can get someone to do the chores around the house for free instead of hiring a new housekeeper. When Helen Chandler shows up, nineteen years old and afraid, Douglass feels he has a bond with her because they're close in age and don't particularly care for Walter. It's very clear it's only a matter of time before they fall in love.

Now here's the problem with the movie. Everything bad that happens, with the exception of the funeral scene, is Douglass's fault. Walter is gruff and a little crude, but he never does anything really wrong. Helen answered a mail order bride summons; she expects the guy who sent for her to not want to marry her? What is she complaining about anyway-her husband-to-be could have been a sadistic monster or someone enormously ugly. She gets Walter Huston! I don't understand. Her first impression of him is that he's handsome, a hard worker, generous with his money, well-liked in town, and prepared to give her a fancy wedding reception. He says, "I'll make you happy," and her response is, "I'm afraid." Do you understand her?

So, if you're a masochist and want to watch a movie where tons of bad things happen and for no reason Walter Huston is supposed to be the bad guy, be my guest. He does put his heart and soul into his performance, and under normal circumstances he might have gotten an Oscar out of it. Of course, he wasn't nominated by the Academy, which begs my famous question of, "What does it take?"

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