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Viennese surgeon Dr. Braun and his daughter Leni come to a small town in North Dakota as refugees from Hitler. When the winds of the Dust Bowl threaten the town, John Phillips leads the townsfolk in moving to greener pastures in Oregon. He falls for Leni, but she is betrothed to the man who helped her and her father escape from the Third Reich. She must make a decision between the two men. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Douglas Evans, shown as the master of ceremonies for the radio show "We The People," was a radio announcer in real life. He worked for KFI (Los Angeles) in the 1930s. See more »
Doctor Braun's "Austrian" accent briefly reverts to a distinct Irish brogue at around 29 minutes. See more »
There ain't no college professor gonna teach me how to farm my land.
How much land you got left that hasn't blown away? Look, men, let's quit arguing and kidding ourselves. We're all in the same boat. And we're all gonna sink unless we stick together. Every one of us has been served with a "dispossess notice," not by Uncle Sam or a bank or some mortgage company, but by a little ol' gal we've been kicking in the teeth, Mother Nature.
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This film fits into an odd gap - in John Wayne's career, into the tenor of the times, into the evolution of cinema. But it's highly entertaining, at times visually spectacular, and really a lot better than it has any right to be.
The depiction of the Dust Bowl is remarkably strong. There's grit and dust in every shot. Many of the scenes are painted in strong, noir-ish tones. Against this backdrop, we have a solid little story about an Austrian doctor and his daughter finding a new new home. It could have been mere Hollywood fluff, but it all rings quite true. The touch of propaganda you might expect in a wartime production is restrained and palatable, with a positive focus on emotions rather than a negative one on ideologies.
All this is abetted by strong performances from the three leads. John Wayne is only about a year along from his breakthrough role in Stagecoach, and proves himself capable of surprising depths. He's as likable here as he's ever been, but also more human. And much more of an acting talent than we might usually give him credit for. This is one of those overlooked Wayne entries, like Island in the Sky, or Hondo, where you can really see how he earned his star billing. Sigrid Gurie is a perfect match. She runs a gamut of emotions, yet remains always appealing.
It's true that the second part of the story does cover some of the same historical ground as The Grapes of Wrath. But the two films don't really overlap. We have here a happier outcome, and much more of a small-scale adventure-drama than an allegorical social commentary. Obviously, this film isn't on the same level artistically as John Ford's masterpiece. But it's also far better than the mere B-movie it might have been.
If you're a fan of John Wayne, or have any affection for the workmanlike dramas of Hollywood's golden era, this film is going to be a very welcome discovery.
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