7 user 4 critic

The Sins of the Children (1930)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 28 June 1930 (USA)
A German immigrant to a small American town is a barber with four children. He has saved enough money to invest in a savings-and-loan company with a friend. Unfortunately, one of his sons ... See full summary »


Sam Wood


Elliott Nugent (story), J.C. Nugent (story) | 3 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Louis Mann ... Adolf Wagenkampf
Robert Montgomery ... Nick Higginson
Elliott Nugent ... Johnnie Wagenkampf
Leila Hyams ... Alma Wagenkampf
Clara Blandick ... Martha Wagenkampf
Mary Doran ... Laura
Francis X. Bushman Jr. ... Ludwig Wagenkampf aka Dr. Lawrence Warren
Robert McWade ... Joe Higginson
Dell Henderson ... Ted Baldwin
Henry Armetta ... Tony the Barber
Jane Reid Jane Reid ... Katherine Wagenkampf Taylor
James Donlan James Donlan ... Bide Taylor
Jeane Wood Jeane Wood ... Muriel Stokes
Lee Kohlmar Lee Kohlmar ... Dr. Heinrich Schmidt


A German immigrant to a small American town is a barber with four children. He has saved enough money to invest in a savings-and-loan company with a friend. Unfortunately, one of his sons has been stricken with tuberculosis, and the investment money goes to pay for the son's treatment in Arizona. Twenty years later, the wastrel son of the now-rich man who was to have been his partner, falls in love with the barber's daughter. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>, A. Nonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A motion picture on humanity- truer, finer, more beautiful than the thrill-seeking cameras of Hollywood have ever caught for the talking screen. The power of the film to thrill your soul is in this mighty drama! (Print Ad-Niagara Falls Gazette, ((Niagara Falls, NY)) 24 September 1930) See more »


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The $200 Johnnie pilfers from the electric company equates to about $2,900 in 2016. See more »


When Adolf takes out a loan, the document says the barber shop is on High Street, but when Laura reads the ad regarding the manicurist job, the shop is said to be on Elm Street. Later, a notice from the loan company says Elm Street, too, even though it's the same shop as the original loan document. See more »

Alternate Versions

MGM also issued this movie as a silent film. See more »


Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht
("Silent Night, Holy Night") (1818) (uncredited)
Music by Franz Xaver Gruber
Lyrics by Joseph Mohr
Sung a cappella in German by the entire Wagenkampf family at the end
See more »

User Reviews

A very good early talkie
14 November 2016 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

I had never heard of this film before I saw it for sale, but being an early MGM Robert Montgomery vehicle and being the only talking film in which Louis Mann had a role, I thought I would give it a try. I'm glad I did. Mann plays a German immigrant who has fled to the U.S. as a young man because of a violent act he committed during a fit of temper. Here in the U.S. he raises four children and becomes the owner of a barber shop. He has the chance to become the partner in a savings and loan, but discovers that his son Ludwig needs to go to a dry climate for two years so he refuses the deal so he can take his son out west.

Years later the savings and loan has become a success and the man that Louis Mann's character would have partnered with has become wealthy. On top of this, the would-be partner's son (Robert Montgomery) has grown up to be a spoiled rascal who happens to be in love with Mann's daughter. But that is the least of his problems. Although this is a very good drama in the MGM-Irving Thalberg era tradition and I highly recommend it, don't be fooled by Robert Montgomery being placed so prominently in the cast. He actually has a very small supporting role. This is basically a one man show and that man is Louis Mann. He's perfect as the man for whom no sacrifice is too big where his children are concerned. That is mainly because he doesn't consider his acts sacrifices, for his most valuable possession is the love of his children. In fact, at the end, Mann's character is feeling like a failure not because of the horrific things going on in his life at that time. It is because he feels like he has lost the love and affection of his children when he is seemingly forgotten by them at Christmas.

Roan put out a DVD release of this film, and the video quality is excellent. The audio can be troublesome in spots but it is clear enough. There is just that background hiss in places that you often have in early talking films. There are some good extras on this DVD too. There is an introduction plus two featurettes. One featurette is on the film itself and the other is about being a child star. The final extra feature is a weird little dance number by some children entitled "The Radiation March". If you have other Roan DVDs you've likely seen this one before.

Sorry to hawk a particular product, but the Roan release is the only way I know to see this film which has apparently been forgotten by the company I think has the copyright, which is Warner Brothers.

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English | German | Italian

Release Date:

28 June 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Richest Man in the World See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(copyright length) | (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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