Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title over a man's silhouette
This week’s mystery movie was the 1952 Paramount film My Son John, with Helen Hayes, Van Heflin, Dean Jagger, Robert Walker, Minor Watson, Frank McHugh, Richard Jaeckel and James Young.

harrisons_reportsScreenplay by Myles Connolly and Leo McCarey. Adaptation by John Lee Mahin. Story by Leo McCarey.

Photography by Harry Stradling. Art direction by Hal Pereira and William Flannery. Edited by Marvin Coil.

Orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett. Costumes by Edith Head.

Photographic effects by Gordon Jennings. Process photography by Farciot Edouart.

Set decoration by Sam Comer and Emile Kuri.

Makeup by Wally Westmore. Sound by Gene Merritt and Gene Garvin.

Music score by Robert Emmett Dolan.

Produced and directed by Leo McCarey.

My Son John is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.

More on the history of the film is available from the AFI catalog.


I picked My Son John somewhat at random. I knew about the ending but not much more. Spoiler alert: Robert Walker died during production of the film at the age of 32. His death scene was “borrowed” from Strangers on a Train. Walker is fascinating to watch. He plays John, the disaffected son of what’s presented as an all-American family. Helen Hayes, returning to the screen, and Dean Jagger are the parents, Richard Jaeckel and James Young as the younger brothers going off to Korea.

John has a mysterious job in Washington, levels a piercing humor at his father’s flag-waving and scoffs at the town padre’s religion. Could he be (gasp) a Communist? This is from the era of the Red Scare, so the answer is yes. He’s an atheist too, so swearing to his mother on a Bible that he’s not a Communist is meaningless for him. John might be the lefty sibling of Bruno in Strangers and I’m not sure another actor of the era could have pulled off this role to make the character charming and engaging while (at least in the film’s world) horribly misguided and tracked by the government (Van Heflin in a two-dimensional role as an FBI agent).

Did Bosley Crowther like it? I’m guessing he did not approve of such goings-on.

Nope, he sure did not (It’s an easy call. He rarely liked anything) April 9, 1952:

For her return to a full-length role after an absence of seventeen years, Helen Hayes has regrettably selected and permitted herself to be starred in an extraordinarily positive, impassioned and controversial film. My Son John, produced and directed (as well as planned and written, in part) by the talented Leo McCarey, who is best remembered for his Going My Way, is a picture so strongly dedicated to the purpose of the American anti-Communist purge that it seethes with the sort of emotionalism and illogic that is characteristic of so much thinking these days.

For Monday, we have a mystery woman.

Update: This is Irene Winston. I’m a sucker for newspapers in movies!

Sept. 6, 2022, Mystery Photo
For Tuesday, we have this mystery fellow. His mystery companion has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear later in the week.

For “Aha Thursday,” we add the less mysterious companion.

Update: This is Todd Karns, left, and Van Heflin.

Sept. 6, 2022, Mystery Photo
We also have this mystery fellow. His mystery companion has also been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear later in the week.

For Friday we add our mysterious leading lady.

Update: This is James Young and Helen Hayes.

Two mystery guests in uniform

For “Hm Wednesday,” Tuesday’s mystery fellow has a mysterious companion.

Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, all mystery guests and second mystery guest cropped out for lack of mysteriousness) and Bob Hansen (Tuesday’s mystery fellow No. 2).

Update: This is James Young and Richard Jaeckel.

Sept. 8, 2022, Mystery Padre
Also for “Aha Thursday,” we have this mystery padre.

Update: This is Frank McHugh.

Brain Trust roll call: Jenny M. (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mysterious Marine No. 2), Gary (Wednesday’s mysterious Marine No. 2), Tucson Barbara (Wednesday’s mystery Marine No. 2), Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery Marine No. 2), B.J. Merholz (Wednesday’s mystery Marine No. 2) and Benito (Wednesday’s mystery Marine No. 2).

Sept. 9, 2022, Mystery Photo
For Friday, we have a mystery fellow.

Update: This is Dean Jagger.

Sept. 9, 2022, Mystery Photo
Our mysterious leading lady explains her pills to our mysterious leading man.

Update: This is Robert Walker and Helen Hayes with her “goofy pills.”

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie and all mystery guests, plus cropping victim No. 1), Anne Papineau (mystery movie, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Tucson Barbara (mystery movie and Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery padre and Tuesday’s cropping victim No. 1),  Incredibleinman (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guests), Gary (mystery movie, Tuesday’s cropping victim No. 1), Mike Hawks (mystery movie, Mystery Marine No. 1, Tuesday’s cropping victim No. 1, and Thursday’s mysterious padre), Beach Gal (mystery movie and all mystery guests), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast) and Sylvia E. (mystery movie and all mystery guests, plus both cropping victims).

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1952, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

  1. tucsonbarbara says:

    Well, I’m not sure – and I don’t usually post unless I am sure – but she does look a bit like Jan Clayton.


  2. B.J. Merholz says:

    I”m taking the day off; I’ll check back tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. MY SON JOHN (1952)
    Monday: Irene Winston
    Tuesday: Todd Karns; James Young, Helen Hayes


  4. Michael Lott says:

    I don’t know who Tuesday’s Marine is, but that Jarhead needs a haircut…


  5. Bob Hansen says:

    Is Tuesday’s first guy Todd Karns? I don’t know the movie, however.


  6. Jenny M says:

    Movie is My Son John.
    Monday – Irene Winston
    Tuesday – Todd Karns and James R. Young.
    Wednesday – James R. Young and Richard Jaeckel.


  7. Gary says:

    On the right: Richard Jaeckle?


  8. tucsonbarbara says:

    Hm Wednesday’s guy looks like Richard Jaeckel.


  9. mike hawks says:

    Richard Jaeckel.


  10. B.J. Merholz says:

    Ok, I’m back. With Santa Monica native Richard Jaeckel displaying a teutonic scowl and an iron cross I’m thinking he may have relocated to some town without pity. Or not.


  11. Benito says:

    Richard Jaeckel, in uniform as usual


  12. Mary Mallory says:

    MY SON JOHN. Irene Winston Monday, Todd Karns and Van Johnson out of frame Tuesday, James Young and Richard Jaeckel Wednesday, and Frank McHugh today.


  13. Anne Papineau says:

    On Wednesday, James Young and Richard Jaeckel in “My Son John.” Our mystery padre is Frank McHugh, and Van Heflin surfaced on Thursday.


  14. tucsonbarbara222 says:

    “My Son John”

    Mon – Nancy Hale
    Tues – James Young
    Wed – James Young, Richard Jaeckel
    Thurs – Frank McHugh

    Did Leo McCarey get blacklisted because of, or in spite of, this movie? Oh, the irony!


  15. Frank McHugh and Van Heflin today, making this “My Son John.”


  16. Gary says:

    Well, with Van and Frank and the foresaid Richard, this is none other than My Son John. And remember that in 1957 I, as a busboy, served Richard and Van at a luncheon in Colorado for the world premier of Three Ten to Uma. Van was a vastly underrated great actor…another example of Hollywood’s tendency to waste talent.


  17. Gary says:

    The aforesaid Richard wih Van and Frank in My Son John. And remember that in 1957 I, as a busboy in Colorado, served Richard and Van at a luncheon for the premier of The 3:10 to Yuma. In my estimation Van H was a greatly underrated actor…another example of Hollywood;s practice of wasting great talent.


  18. mike hawks says:

    James Young, Van Heflin and Frank McHugh in MY SON JOHN.


  19. beachgal says:

    My Son John (1952)
    Tues – David Bond with Thurs add on of Van Heflin
    Tues #2 – James Young with Wed add on of Richard Jaeckel
    Thurs – Frank McHugh


  20. beachgal says:

    I think Monday might be Irene Winston, our spy in the news article


  21. LC says:

    My Son John (1952) w/Richard Jaeckel, James Young, Helen Hayes, Van Heflin, Dean Jagger, Frank McHugh…


  22. Sylvia E. says:

    “Aha Thursday”comes through again! Also Ms Hayes has returned to the game.

    “My Son John”1952. Director Leo McCarey

    Monday – not sure, but it’s a news photo of a woman who’s being arrested as a communist spy..
    Tuesday – Todd Karns (I think) and Van Heflin in image one / image 2 – James Young w/ Mom, Helen Hayes cropped for lack of mysteriousness.
    Wednesday – James Young again w/ brother Richard Jaekel (the whole family receives disturbing news about the third brother, who we’ll see Friday.)
    Thursday – Frank McHugh
    Friday will reveal Robert Walker, Helen Hayes and Dean Jagger.


  23. Just noticed Van Heflin on the right.


  24. Sylvia E. says:

    I’m going to guess that you know for sure who Monday’s spy is. I’ll guess that it’s Irene Winston, though IMDb says her scenes were deleted. Maybe her image in the newspaper doesn’t count as a credit.


  25. beachgal says:

    Fri #1 – Dean Jagger
    Fri #2 – Robert Walker and Helen Hayes


  26. Mary Mallory says:

    Dean Jagger, Robert Walker, and Helen Hayes.


  27. Dean Jagger; Robert Walker, Helen Hayes.


  28. tucsonbarbara says:

    Dean Jagger, Robert Walker, Helen Hayes


  29. mike hawks says:

    Helen Hayes, Dean Jagger and Robert Walker.


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