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In rural 1840's Scotland, Gavin Dishart arrives to become the new "little minister" of Thrums's Auld Licht church. He meets a mysterious young gypsy girl in the dens and to his horror Babbie draws him into her escape from the soldiers after she incites a Luddite riot. But unknown to Gavin, Babbie is more than she seems. And they must overcome her secret, the villagers' fears of her, and worst of all, Gavin's devotion to his mother's sensibilities, before they can openly declare their love. Written by
Its tender sentimentality is out of fashion today, of course, and has been for decades. But that's the point -- and that, for me, is the beauty of this film: it's positively luminous with an innocence and understated nobility that put our postmodern "edginess" to shame. I have to wonder if we've lost the capacity to experience and appreciate such rarefied sweetness of feeling. A sadly neglected film, with one of Katharine Hepburn's incomparable early performances -- radiant, charmingly quirky, and more emotionally expressive than a dozen Garbos. Sad, too, that co-star Robert Beal never crashed into the upper ranks of stardom; I saw tremendous potential in that performance.
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