Having previously suffered the heartbreak of a still birth, Paula Rogers (Loretta Young) is devastated to learn that she has just lost another baby. Adding to the agony of the miscarriage, is the doctor's diagnosis that she will never conceive again. With no hope for future pregnancies, and the longing for a child intense within her, Paula is in deep anguish, yet for her husband, John's (Kent Smith) sake, she puts on a plastic smile and pretends that she is fine. (I call this "smiling through the tears"...something I did for years myself, during my own long battle with fertility issues.) Although John suggests adoption, Paula isn't open to obtaining a child by those means.
Terribly upset by the news of her infertility and having had a small sip of drink, Paula jumps into her car and hightails it to a reception being given to celebrate her husband's promotion at his university job. Running late and driving erratically, Paula hits a young boy (Tommy Rettig) who darts into the road. Terrified that she killed the child, Paula rushes to his side; after briefly opening his eyes and making contact with her, the boy loses consciousness. A passerby---whom Paula had recklessly passed on the highway---assumes control of the situation and drives the child to the hospital. Though Paula had promised to follow him, after getting stopped by a train and knowing she is late for the reception, she makes the decision to not continue on to the hospital.
Paula tries to inform her husband of the accident, but the timing always seems to be off, and upon hearing that a scandal would hurt his career, she ends up not telling him at all. Instead, she seeks to make amends by volunteering at the hospital where the boy (David) is recuperating. Learning that David is an orphan from a nearby children's home and that the accident damaged the area of his brain responsible for speech, Paula takes it upon herself to bring him into her home and to re-teach him how to speak.
The police are still on the trail of the hit-and-run driver, though, and with the man who witnessed Paula's erratic driving able to identify her and claiming she was drunk, things won't go as smoothly as Paula hopes they will. And what about David, who is beginning to remember the woman who was leaning over him when he opened his eyes at the scene of the accident? Does he realize the woman who hit him is the very woman taking care of him now? How it all plays out is the balance of the film.
Having sought to adopt a child myself, movies concerning adoption are near and dear to my heart. This one is touching and mildly heart-tugging and features fine performances by all. Tommy Rettig is adorable, and I quite fell in love with him. Loretta Young is very solid as the heartbroken, guilt-ridden woman, and Kent Smith, who I am not overly familiar with, is adequate in his role as well. I'm not exactly sure why I didn't enjoy this film more. Really, it ought to have been a 4 or even 5-star film for me, given the theme and the sentimentality of it, but for some reason---the speech lessons, I believe---I just wasn't wild about it. The lessons, I thought, were a bit tedious and drawn out. Also, while unrealistic situations don't generally bother me too much, the whole idea of the police "looking the other way" so long as the perpetrator of a crime tried to make amends was just too outlandish. Still, though, I do enjoy this film, and I think it's one all Loretta Young fans will want to see. I do know from reading Miss Young's biography, that after her third child, she had a couple of miscarriages, and though she would have liked to have had more children, she never did. Perhaps that parallel to Paula made this a somewhat-personal role for her.
While I don't believe Paula is out on DVD, TCM does air it quite often, so you should probably be able to catch it there in the near future.