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 ...
See full summary »
Charming love story set on the Erie Canal in the mid-19th Century. A farmer works on the canal to earn money to buy a farm. He meets a cook on a canal boat, but she can't even consider ... See full summary »
A comedy about marriage and everything relating to it. New York novelist Henry Fonda meets up with an actress, Margaret Sullavan, and the two date and later marry, though neither knows of ... See full summary »
William A. Seiter
Jonathan Street is a struggling composer when he meets and marries Annette. The problem is that Jonathan was drunk and does not want to be married. Annette does go with him to Paris and ... See full summary »
A young woman is on trial for murder. In flashback, we learn of her struggles to overcome poverty as a teenager -- a mistaken arrest and prison term for shoplifting and lack of employment ... See full summary »
College sweethearts Julie and Ives have planned to marry. Their plans go amiss when Julie meets a weak writer and runs off to marry him. After her husband dies, she's left in Paris, ... See full summary »
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
The movie's an affecting tale of feuding backwoods families, who must also make adjustments to encroaching modern world. I was expecting a Romeo-Juliet situation with the families, but that's surprisingly not the case. Instead June (Sidney) has to decide between her cousin Dave (Fonda) and outsider Hale (MacMurray). Tradition favors Dave, but her heart favors Hale. At the same time, railroad developers are crossing land owned by each family, and neither the Tollivers nor the Falins wants to accommodate their hereditary enemy. They'd rather shoot each other if they get the chance. And who knows how the enmity started, except now it's part of both families' tradition. If the movie's flawed, it's with the use of of popular backwoods stereotypes.
Apparently this was the first outdoor Technicolor feature (IMDB), but you'd never know it. Visually the film is quite striking, with a lot of beautiful outdoor compositions. Also, you'd never guess these were filmed just 35-miles east of LA in the San Bernardino mountains. The acting too is first-ratea soulful Sydney, an ornery Fonda, and an underrated MacMurray. Then there's Sherlock Holmes' favorite Dr. Watson, Nigel Bruce, in a non-comedic role. Needless to say, that took some adjustment for this old Sherlock fan. In fact, there're a couple other unexpected cast members, as well: Little Rascal Spanky McFarland and comedic Fuzzy Knight. And, of course, mustn't forget everyone's favorite hard-scrabble mom, Beulah Bondi, as the long-suffering ma Tolliver.
I like the way the movie works the culture clash between tradition and modernity into the plot. The railroad company pays big money for land use, and that along with a railway to service the expected coal deposits, is bringing the backwoods into the modern age, as June's evolution shows. Of course, not everyone's supportive of change, particularly dad Tolliver (Stone). The movie has some uncommonly poignant moments, especially that final sequence, which conveys an extraordinary emotional power. As a kid, I recall bawling at it, and even now as a geezer, it brought a tear to the eye. As I see it, Fuzzy and his dog are mourning not only friends but the passing of a simpler way of life.
All in all, the movie is surprisingly good, with a strong story, commanding visuals, and a thoughtful subtext. So don't pass it up because of a relative obscurity.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?