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Young Matt Masters, an Ozark Mountains moonshiner, hates the father he has never seen, who apparently deserted Matt's mother and left her to die. His obsession contributes to the hatred rampant in the mountains. However, the arrival of a stranger, Daniel Howitt, begins to positively affect the mountain people, who learn to shed their hatred under his gentle influence. Still, Matt does not quite trust Howitt..... Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Herbert J. Yates of Republic Pictures must have gotten a tidy sum from Paramount for the use of his number one star for his first technicolor feature film.
Shepherd of the Hills was the first film in which John Wayne worked with director Henry Hathaway. They didn't work together again for another 19 years and then in the Sixties did four films culminating with Wayne's Oscar winning performance in True Grit.
In fact Hathaway had directed the first outdoor technicolor film in the same Ozark area for Paramount five years earlier in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.
You think of this area of the country and you either think of the comic characters of The Beverly Hillbillies or the inbred freaks of Deliverance. In both films Hathaway avoids those stereotypes and he creates characters of dignity and strength.
John Wayne is Matt Matthews whose father left his mother before she was born and she died leaving him to be raised by his aunt Beulah Bondi. Bondi's a bitter old woman who fills the Duke's head with evil thoughts about his father.
A stranger comes to their valley and has a lot of money, buys a piece of property from the Matthews clan and settles there. Harry Carey wins over most of the people there with several acts of kindness and charity. He especially makes a big fan of Betty Field who's a hankerin' after the Duke.
Carey's got a past secret and I think if you read the review you can figure out what it is without me being explicit. But all is revealed in the end and it's worth the wait.
Wayne and Carey have a great chemistry between them because next to John Ford, Harry Carey was probably the single biggest influence in creating a star named John Wayne from a USC football player named Marion Michael Morrison who earned some extra money working as a prop man on silent movie sets. The same rapport between them is also carried over to The Angel and the Badman which Wayne produced himself.
Shepherd of the Hills is a good film about some simple people with some great performances by the entire cast.
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