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Seed

  • Directed by John M. Stahl
  • United States, 1931, 93 mins., English

Stahl, a master of the melodrama often situated as the proto-Douglas Sirk, made his second picture of 1931 with the quietly shocking Seed, which like 1932’s Back Street dealt openly with infidelity. Co-produced with Universal head Carl Laemmle Jr., Stahl’s vision of the complexity of American family life during the Depression simmers behind the story of Bart Carter (John Boles), an aging married-with-kids writer who’s at a dead end. Enter old flame Mildred (Genevieve Tobin), who seeks to free Bart from his doldrums, offering him a great career opportunity. But when their success and Bart’s old life begin to slowly collide, can happiness last for both of them? Bette Davis appears in a small role—one of her first—as Bart’s eldest child.

35mm print courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Genres: Melodrama

Other Films by John M. Stahl

Back Street

Under Carl Laemmle Jr.’s steady leadership, Universal in the 1930s produced a slew of social-issue dramas that were pitched slightly quieter than their major-studio rivals. John M. Stahl, one of Universal’s finest filmmakers of the period, had made the jump from MGM and independently produced silents to be a crown jewel of the studio. With