The Human Comedy is a slice of idealized life during World
War II. It is based upon a story by William Saroyan.
Centered around the Macauley family, it follows the
disembodied spirit of Mr. Macauley (dead from two years
earlier) as he watches over the exploits and foibles of his
lost Californian family. Children range in age from an
adult solder, Marcas Macauley, to the youngest, a precocious
four-year old named Ulysses. In between, there's the
concerned college student, Bess (played by Donna Reed), and
Mickey Rooney's Homer, a teenage telegram delivery boy.
Homer delivers War Department notices to families about
their lost or injured love ones. It is a stressful job on
all involved, including Mr. Grogan, the
drunk-yet-philosophical telegraph operator.
The naturally cute youngster, Jackie "Butch" Jenkins, stole many of
his scenes with Mickey Rooney. They appeared together again later
in the MGM film, National Velvet, that launched Elizabeth Taylor's
The Human Comedy garnered many praises after its release.
It was nominated for several Academy Awards® in 1943:
- Best Picture
- Best Actor - Mickey Rooney
- Best Director - Clarence Brown
- Best B&W Cinematography - Harry Stradling
- Best Original Story - William Saroyan
It won one Oscar® in all its categories - Best Original Story.
- Homer Macauley - Mickey Rooney
- Willie Grogan - Frank Morgan
- Tom Spangler - James Craig
- Diana Steed - Marsha Hunt
- Mrs. Macauley - Fay Bainter
- Mr. Macauley - Ray Collins
- Marcus Macauley - Van Johnson
- Bess Macauley - Donna Reed
- Ulysses Macauley - Jackie "Butch" Jenkins
- Mary Arena - Dorothy Morris
- Tobey - John Craven
- Lionel - Darryl Hickman
- Fat - Barry Nelson
- Miss Hicks - Mary Nash
- Brad Stickman - Alan Baxter
- Auggie - Carl "Alfafa" Switzer