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Big Hearted Herbert (1934)

Passed | | Comedy | 6 October 1934 (USA)
Herbert Kalness (Guy Kibbee) is an opinionated man and a huge grouch, but his loving family puts up with him. Herbert is upset when daughter Alice (Patricia Ellis) becomes engaged to Andrew... See full summary »


William Keighley


Lillie Hayward (screen play), Ben Markson (screen play) | 3 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Aline MacMahon ... Elizabeth Kainess
Guy Kibbee ... Herbert 'Big-Hearted' Kainess
Patricia Ellis ... Alice Kainess
Helen Lowell ... Martha
Phillip Reed ... Andrew Goodrich
Robert Barrat ... Jim Lawrence
Henry O'Neill ... Andrew Goodrich Sr.
Marjorie Gateson ... Amy Goodrich
Nella Walker ... Mrs. Goodrich
Junior Durkin ... Junior Kalness (as Trent Durkin)
Jay Ward Jay Ward ... Robert Kalness
Hale Hamilton ... Mr. Havens
Claudia Coleman ... Mrs. Havens


Herbert Kalness (Guy Kibbee) is an opinionated man and a huge grouch, but his loving family puts up with him. Herbert is upset when daughter Alice (Patricia Ellis) becomes engaged to Andrew Goodrich (Phillip Reed). Andrew is a Harvard man, and Herbert hates stuff shirts. After Herbert's rants ruin an engagement dinner for Alice, his wife Elizabeth (Aline MacMahon) decides to teach him a lesson. When Herbert brings some clients home to dinner, they get a big surprise.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

6 October 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Living Up to Lizzie See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The play opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 1 January 1934 and closed in May 1934 after 154 performances. The opening night cast included J.C. Nugent as Herbert and Elisabeth Risdon as Elizabeth. See more »


Herbert Kalness: [Resisting the suggestion that his son go to college instead of going to work at Kalness' factory] I never saw a college man yet who was worth his salt - freshman year or any other year!
Goodrich Sr.: Aren't you being a bit severe on colleges, Mr. Kalness?
Herbert Kalness: "Colleges"? We don't have 'em any more. Big athletic institutions. Football teams. Baseball teams. Crews, swimmers, hockey players. Tiddlywinks teams for all I know. Careening around the country to get their pictures in the paper!
See more »


Version of Father Is a Prince (1940) See more »

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User Reviews

Pleasant Film, Not Quite a Home Run
12 September 2014 | by bbrebozoSee all my reviews

Does Guy Kibbee, a popular 1930's character actor, have what it takes to carry the lead role in an entire movie? This film gives us the answer: No. But it's fun watching him try.

Kibbee plays the sarcastically-named Big Hearted Herbert, a blowhard who scares neither his family nor his daughter's fiancé with his incessant yelling and complaining. In most movies, Kibbee provides comic relief as a blustery background character, which is usually great. But his non-stop bellowing throughout an entire film is too much of a good thing, particularly because Kibbee's one-note acting style doesn't display at any sweet or lovable side of his personality. Only the eye-rolling and put-downs of the other cast members hint that Big Hearted Herbert is really a softy. It's kind of like watching Jackie Gleason play Ralph Kramden in The Honeymooners, except that the richer and more successful Big Hearted Herbert is a way less sympathetic character, and the more talented Gleason was able to demonstrate occasional warmth.

But despite this, the film is actually fun to watch. The cast does a great job of dragging Big Hearted Herbert into reluctantly accepting the lifestyles of his son and daughter. Apparently Herbert hates lawyers, which is a problem, because his daughter wants to marry one. (Imagine how many issues Big Hearted Herbert would have in the 21st century, when his daughter would want to become one!) And his son doesn't want to go into the family business that Herbert worked so hard to build. It's all mostly handled in a lighthearted way, except toward the end, when Big Hearted Herbert's wife has to threaten some drastic action to drag Herbert into developing a more enlightened viewpoint.

So spend an hour with this movie, have a very pleasant time, and gain a better understanding of why the talented Mr. Kibbee was relegated to minor parts for most of his career.

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