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Roy Del Ruth
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Former MGM queen Norma Shearer was vacationing in the Sierras in California and at a ski lodge took notice of the owner's beautiful daughter. She thought that she ought to be in pictures and got her old friends at MGM to give her a look over. They did and signed the girl to a contract and Janet Leigh made her debut in The Romance of Rosy Ridge.
During the Civil War both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis spent a lot of time worrying about the fate of those border states like Missouri where this story takes place. There was considerable public opinion for both sides and a lot of neighbors fought each other.
Into one Missouri town comes stranger Van Johnson and helps out a Confederate family which lost a son, Marshall Thompson, during the Civil War. Father Thomas Mitchell is suspicious, but his wife Selena Royle and children Dean Stockwell and Janet Leigh take to Johnson right off.
Of course Johnson takes to Leigh right off as well. The people of the area can't seem to reconcile because a whole lot of bad things keep happening and only to Confederate families. Someone has a vested interest in keeping the Civil War going long after Appomattox.
I won't say any more about the plot, but film fans will take one look at the cast and know who's responsible for all the bad things. But also a secret about son Marshall Thompson is revealed before all are reconciled.
The Romance of Rosy Ridge was an auspicious debut for Janet Leigh. You could easily tell what Norma Shearer saw when she served as talent scout for her former studio. Van Johnson gives Janet a lot of support here, very generously allowing her to gain maximum exposure, he seems to have made an effort not to steal any scenes. Van and Janet have a good cast of supporting players as well.
The film has a kind of nostalgic quality like some of John Ford's work. It might have really been a classic had Ford been the director. It's still pretty good as is.
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