Edna marries Texan Sam Gladney, operator of a wheat mill. Edna discovers by chance how the law treats children who are without parents and decides to do something about it. She opens a home... See full summary »
Edna marries Texan Sam Gladney, operator of a wheat mill. Edna discovers by chance how the law treats children who are without parents and decides to do something about it. She opens a home for foundlings and orphans and begins to place children in good homes, despite the opposition of "conservative" citizens, who would condemn illegitimate children for being born out of wedlock. Eventually Edna leads a fight in the Texas legislature to remove the stigma of illegitimacy from birth records in that state, while continuing to be an advocate for homeless children. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Someone over at MGM saw the possibility in the story of Edna Gladney the same kind of box office appeal that Boystown had for Spencer Tracy with a female protagonist/heroine. Save for winning the Oscar it almost worked out that way for Greer Garson. As it was Blossoms in the Dust became an important film for her.
Like Boystown the film is based on a real person, still living who worked with young people although this protagonist is female. And she works with the youngest of children, abandoned babies giving them shelter and eventually a home.
Greer Garson really hit her career stride with this role. Edna Gahley sustained two tragedies in her life that propelled her to her work with foundling kids. First her sister was found out to be adopted and when facts of her real illegitimate birth came to light, she committed suicide. Marsha Hunt has a small but very key role as the tragic sister.
Secondly she marries Sam Gladney played by Walter Pidgeon and when their child is killed in an accident, after a bit of soul searching she finds her true calling in founding and running a home and orphanage for unwanted children in Fort Worth, Texas. She also campaigns vigorously and successfully for the repeal of a law that mandated births out of wedlock be stamped illegitimate. Back in the day the simple fact of an out of wedlock birth could brand someone for life in real terms concerning job and service discrimination.
Watching the film I was struck that the opponents of Garson who wanted to keep the law as is were using the same arguments that are being used against same sex marriage, that were used against repealing the miscegenation laws. It seems we have to fight the same fight over many generations.
This was the first film in which Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon were teamed by MGM. Their biggest success was in their next film the following year with Mrs. Miniver.
Blossoms in the Dust got an Oscar for Best Art and Set Design for a color film. It was nominated for Best Picture, but lost to How Green Was My Valley and Greer Garson got her first nomination for Best Actress, but she lost to Joan Fontaine for Suspicion.
Edna Gladney lived until 1961 twenty years after this film about her came out, to the last a passionate advocate for the rights of the littlest citizens on planet earth. She would have been a firm believer in what Hillary Clinton said about it taking a village to raise a child.
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