The Male Animal

Watch The Male Animal

"SHE turned a lamb into a lion!"
  • Passed
  • 1942
  • 1 hr 41 min
  • 6.6  (1,423)

The Male Animal is a 1942 comedy-drama film that follows the story of Tommy Turner (Henry Fonda), a literature professor at Midwestern University. Tommy is a devoted husband to his wife Ellen (Olivia de Havilland), and they live a comfortable life together. However, their marriage is put to the test when Tommy faces pressure from the university board to cancel a student-led production of a controversial play.

The play in question is "The Male Animal," which centers around the freedoms and responsibilities of American citizens. The university board is worried that the play's liberal views will offend the alumni and jeopardize their funding. Tommy, however, believes in the play's message and struggles with his decision on whether or not to cancel the production.

As Tommy deals with the university board's pressure, he also faces an unexpected visit from his former flame, Patricia Stanley (Joan Leslie). Patricia is a vivacious and free-spirited woman who represents Tommy's youthful past and reminds him of the excitement that his life once held.

This visit from Patricia reignites old feelings within Tommy, and he finds himself torn between his love for his wife and his longing for his former lover. Meanwhile, Ellen begins to suspect that Tommy's reunion with Patricia is more than just a friendly visit.

As the play's opening night approaches, tensions between Tommy and the university board escalate, and Ellen's suspicions about Patricia become more pronounced. The Male Animal is a captivating look at the complex nature of relationships, the importance of personal freedom, and the struggles individuals face in balancing their past and present selves.

The film's strong performances from Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland, and Joan Leslie bring a depth and complexity to the characters that elevates the film beyond a simple romantic comedy. Fonda plays Tommy with a sense of earnestness and sincerity, and his struggle to balance his beliefs and his marriage is portrayed with depth and nuance.

De Havilland, meanwhile, brings a warmth and humanity to Ellen, making her a relatable and sympathetic character, despite some of her more suspicious tendencies. Leslie's portrayal of Patricia is fun and flirtatious, but she also adds depth to a character that could have been one-dimensional.

The film also tackles themes of censorship and freedom of speech, which are just as relevant today as they were in the 1940s. The conflicts between Tommy and the university board ring true, as the pressure to appease donors and maintain political correctness continues to be a challenge for institutions of higher education.

Overall, The Male Animal is a charming and thought-provoking film that explores the complexities of human relationships and the importance of personal freedom. Fonda, de Havilland, and Leslie deliver strong performances, and the film's themes of censorship and freedom of speech remain relevant to this day.

The Male Animal
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 41 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.6  (1,423)