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All those nights I was away from the farm, I dreamed of nothing but being up here. Place all fixed up and you waiting for me as I came up the trail. It's ours, Lissy. Nothing's gonna keep us from having it now.
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I really enjoyed this film starring Van Johnson and featuring Janet Leigh in her film debut. It is set in the Ozarks of Missouri after the end of the Civil War. The Civil War is over, but being a border state, there are existing tensions between neighbors who fought on opposing sides. So the movie opens with the following words: "But peace is achieved by the goodwill of people, and not by the flourishing strokes of a pen... "
In this town, everyone is sized up by the color of their britches - blue (Yankee), or gray (Confederate). The war was fought over giving rights to all people, no matter the color of the skin. Now they're fighting over the color of their pants. The harvest has come in, but everyone risks losing their crop in the fields because neighbor won't help neighbor to bring it in.
I liked the cast chosen for the film. Janet Leigh has a fresh, young face in her very first film. She has such delicate features. It's amazing this is Leigh's first film. She seems quite relaxed and natural.The little boy, played by Dean Stockwell - you may recognize him as the crippled boy from "The Secret Garden". The father is played by Thomas Mitchell, who also played the dad in "Gone with the Wind", Gerald O'Hara. Van Johnson is charming as the stranger who wanders in one day - looking for work, shelter and a warm meal - but also has an ulterior motive. He's the right mix of rugged and muscular, mixed in with the boy-next-door approachability. His honest face helps him to pull off his character's purpose (I won't give it away). The mother, played by Selena Royle, is just the right mix of sadness and hope. She is bold to make the first move at the barn dance and asks one of the men from the "other side" to dance. The folk songs are infectious, toe-tapping melodies.
The movie is full of homespun sayings like my grandmother used to say: right as rain, tighter than a gopher hole, wipe the vinegar off your face, "my hunger's powerful enough to lift the lid off the pot",etc. I like the depiction of the sparse and harsh life shown in the film. The location shootings, combined with the sets, create the perfect atmosphere for recreating a bygone era.It's funny when they discuss having a "play" party (a dance where music is played). When it's mentioned to invite everyone from BOTH SIDES in the community, the father says "You can't go mixin' britches!". Hilarious!
My favorite part of the movie is the twist at the end- when there is a fork in the road (Liberty Road), and the truth is revealed. I won't give it away. Some will find it very cliché and a little too obvious. But I liked the use of the fork and what it ended up meaning in the movie.
This was very good story telling, matched with a more than capable cast and adequate cinematography. I don't think you will be disappointed!
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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