Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Kings Row (1942)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Kings Row (1942)

In director Sam Wood's great romantic melodrama set in the turn-of-the-century small-town of Kings Row in the mid-West - concealing evil, sadism, cruelty, and depravity:

  • the opening sequences introducing the childhoods of the five leading characters
  • and later, the melodramatic scenes of the secret love affair between emotionally-disturbed Cassandra "Cassie" Tower (Betty Field) and idealistic neighbor Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) while her strict, stern, secretive, and protective (and incestuous, off-screen) father Dr. Alexander Tower (Claude Rains), who had confined her at home for schooling, was away; as a lightning storm struck outside, they kissed - and shortly later, Cassie frantically made a crazed request to go away with Parris: ("...let me go away with you") when he was about to leave to study abroad in Vienna as a psychiatric medical doctor
  • the (offscreen) scene of Dr. Tower's murder of his daughter Cassie because of her increasing insanity, but really because she had become pregnant, and because of her sexual relationship with Parris; afterwards, the doctor suicidally killed himself
  • the scene of playboy Drake McHugh (Ronald Reagan) waking up, calling to free-spirited Randy Monoghan (Ann Sheridan) and looking toward the foot of his bed to discover that both of his injured legs had been spitefully amputated by a vindictive, sanctimonious and vicious Dr. Henry Gordon (Charles Coburn) following a railroad accident in the yard; Dr. Gordon had needlessly operated to dutifully "punish wickedness" (to seek revenge for Drake's earlier relationship with his daughter Louise); Drake delivered a famous exclamation to Randy: ("Where's the rest of me?")
  • the scene of Louise confronting her father with her strong opinions about his monstrous butchery ("You monster, you fiend! (she was slapped to the ground) I'll let the world know what you are if it's the only thing I'll ever do. Tomorrow, tomorrow I'll tell everyone. I know what you are. I know all about you and your operations"), and her banishment to her upstairs room - and her father's threat to incarcerate her in a mental institution
  • the scene of idealistic young doctor Parris attempting to save his boyhood friend from depression and suicide, while Randy left the room and invoked the Virgin Mary three times while standing at the door: "Mary, blessed Mother of God"
  • the lengthy monologue by Parris to his legless friend Drake when he boldly revealed the truth about Drake's amputated legs and Dr. Gordon's butchery, after reciting half of 19th-century English poet William E. Henley's sixteen-line Invictus (meaning unconquerable or undefeated in Latin) - a poem about self-determination: ("My grandmother used to say, some people grow up and some people just grow older. I guess it's time we found out about us, you and me, whether I'm a doctor, whether you're a man. You know the kind of man I mean, Drake. There's a piece of poetry, Invictus. I don't think I remember all the words. 'Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody - but unbowed.' I don't know if you can take it, Drake...Dr. Gordon cut off your legs. I don't know if it was necessary. He was that kind of butcher, who thought he had a special ordination to punish transgressors. With you he had a double incentive because of Louise. Heaven knows what else. The caverns of the human mind are full of strange shadows, but none of that matters. The point is he wanted to destroy you, oh, not literally. He wanted to destroy the Drake McHugh you were. He wanted to see you turn into a life-long cripple, mentally as well as physically. That's all there is, Drake. Now, if you'd turn your face to that wall")
Parris' Recitation of Invictus and Confession of
Dr. Gordon's Butchery to Drake
  • the response of a chuckling Drake to Parris and Randy - he had defiantly overcome his bitterness after learning that the amputations were unnecessary: ("That's a hot one, isn't it? Where did Gordon think I lived, in my legs? Did he think those things were Drake McHugh? Spout that poetry again, Parris. I never was any good at poetry. (To Randy, with an embrace) What was it you wanted, honey? To build a house? We'll move into it in broad daylight. And we'll invite the folks in, too. For Pete's sake, let's give a party. I feel swell")
  • the very dramatic final scene of Parris running off to meet his new 19 year-old love Elise Sandor (Kaaren Verne) living in his childhood home, and his traverse across a long expanse of lawn to embrace Elise in his arms - as Erich Wolfgang Korngold's music swelled at the end

The Fated Romance Between Cassie and Parris

Drake: "Where's the rest of me?"

Randy: "Mary, blessed Mother of God"

Drake's Defiance to His Disability: "I feel swell"

Dramatic Ending: Parris Running Off Across Lawn


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