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A feud, the origins of which can barely be remembered, has been boiling for decades between two sheltered mountain families, the Tollivers and the Falins. With plans to build a railroad through both families' land and mine coal deposits beneath it, enterprising outsider Jack Hale (Fred MacMurray) inadvertently becomes entangled in the region's politics. He soon captures the attention of the beautiful June Tolliver (Sylvia Sidney) and quickly becomes involved in a love triangle with her and her cousin Dave (Henry Fonda) Written by
A landmark Technicolor film that is still effective.
THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE (1936) is a landmark color film of considerable dramatic power that has been neglected in Hollywood history. It was the second full-length feature to be produced in the newly-developed 3 strip Technicolor process. The first Technicolor feature, BECKY SHARP, had opened the previous year (1935) but did not find audience favor. There is strong evidence to suggest that THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE was the film that really popularized color.
Aside from the superb color photography, the film has much to recommend it. There are very strong performances, particularly that of Sylvia Sidney as the backwoods mountain girl - a very convincing portrayal. She is supported by two handsome newcomers, Henry Fonda and Fred MacMurray, plus veterans such as Fred Stone, Beulah Bondi, and Spanky MacFarland. The story line is very compelling and there is the strong direction of Henry Hathaway (LIVES OF A BENGAL LANCER, KISS OF DEATH, TRUE GRIT). In its original release, audiences reportedly burst into applause while viewing some of the color scenes. The film was a box office smash for Paramount, playing to packed houses in both large and small towns. (This is well documented.) It remains compelling entertainment today. The high-quality color photography was very much in evidence in the VHS tape that MCA released in the Nineties. It is to be hoped that the same high quality will be seen in the projected 2009 DVD release of this beloved film.
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