One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
This was a rare, early attempt to bring attention to the plight of the farmer during the depression. Wheat was the subject - it's harvesting maintained in spite of drought, low prices, strikes and stock market finagling. An early writing credit for former title writer Casey Robinson, who made the story very convincing. With the help of two dynamic actors playing brothers Chris and Walt Martin, the film was divided to give both of them equal screen time.
The Martin family are eagerly awaiting the return of Chris (Chester Morris) the older brother, from France, but he comes back with new ideas. He has gone off the idea of marrying his childhood sweetheart Ellen (the beautiful Julie Haydon, spelt Hayden in the credits) and he doesn't want to stay on the farm. He wants his share of the money to go into business with a friend, Hugh (Lawrence Grey) in Chicago.
In Chicago, the bottom has fallen out of the wheat market and Chris, who is now a member of the Chicago Board of Trade, creates a panic, by causing the market to sell short, so he can recoup his losses. Over the years Chris acquires wealth and a very upmarket (but very nice) girlfriend, Cynthia (Genevieve Tobin) - Walt (Richard Arlen) and Ellen, who have married, are now the proud parents of twins. When Chris comes back to the farm for a visit, Cynthia seems to fit in well but Chris acts a bit ashamed of his roots. Walt, while struggling on the farm, is requiring a reputation as a "farmer's friend" - dispensing advice on farming methods and trying to form a farmer's union. Things come to a head when the farmers strike and between them - Walt tries to keep the farmers out for as long as he can so Chris can push up the price of wheat on the exchange.
The movie is quite serious in trying to show how farmers were really faring - there is a rowdy meeting in the court when Walt tries to stop the foreclosure of farms, including his old friend's, Loopy Lou (Roscoe Ates) and the farm auction where Walt and his friends buy out the equipment and machinery for just a few cents, allowing Loopy to continue farming.
Between the formidable talents of Chester Morris and Richard Arlen, Genevieve Tobin more than held her own. Tobin was a sparkling comedienne who was a very memorable Della Street in "The Case of the Lucky Legs". She wasn't often given a chance to prove her dramatic worth but "Golden Harvest" was one of those times. Another unappreciated blonde actress was Julie Haydon (she was an Ann Harding look alike). In movies she was famous for being the older sister in "A Family Affair" - the first of the Hardy family series and she was also one of the stars who were dropped after the first movie. Noel Coward and George Jean Nathan could see something in her that Hollywood couldn't and she became a hit on Broadway in such plays as "The Time of Your Life" and "The Glass Menagerie".
Highly, Highly Recommended.
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