In Kings Row, a small American town ca. 1900, we track the fates of four young people, and watch malevolence and tragedy form on an idyllic horizon. Parris Mitchell and Drake McHugh (Cummings and Reagan) are boyhood friends whose lives take diverging paths in adulthood: Parris leaves Kings Row to study medicine, while the more carefree Drake stays behind. With Parris away, Drake's fortunes start to plummet. Luckily, he has the steadfast love of Randy (Sheridan), a beauty from the other side of the tracks. Meanwhile, Parris's professional success compensates for a less satisfying romantic life, as it's gradually revealed that Cassie (Betty Field), the girl he's adored since childhood, may be mentally unstable.
Rediscover the lost art of melodrama with Sam Wood's peerless "Kings Row." The film's strength lies in its subtle transformation from wholesome Americana into a dark tale of madness and evil, transcending any sentimental, dated attributes. Unquestionably, our 40th President did his finest screen work here, and Cummings fits the stolid, noble Parris to a tee. This combined with Sheridan's star-wattage and a top-notch Warners supporting cast (including Claude Rains, Judith Anderson, and Charles Coburn) makes Kings Row a town well worth visiting.