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A stubborn old farmer won't listen to any of his neighbors about how to improve the efficiency of his farm with modern methods, as he thinks "the old ways" were just fine. His three daughters live on the farm with him, and the oldest one, a teenager, has fallen in love with a local boy. However, she knows that she is expected to help her father work the farm and is torn between her love for the local boy and her father's expectations for her to continue working the farm. Written by
There is one scene where a young Natalie Wood is supposed to run across a bridge. She was told that the bridge would collapse after she got to the other side, but there was an accident and the bridge collapsed while she was still on it. She broke her hand and it never healed properly. She always wore a bracelet to hide the lump left behind. See more »
Charming little farm family drama, made more so by Wood's incandescent performance. Her emotions from joy to alarm are so infectious, it's hard not to be moved. That scene of acceptance into 4H is a little marvel of the kind of uninhibited joy that somehow gets lost on the way to adulthood. True, at times she's a little much, yet it's hard not to believe she's actually feeling what she's conveying, sort of an untutored version of the Stanislavski method, at least as I understand it. I also like Marguerite Chapman's unsmiling farm girl. She's certainly a long way from the expected eye-batting coquette when handsome David Barkley (Paige) comes calling. There's a feeling that the responsibilities of surrogate motherhood are making her old beyond her years. It's an unusually realistic, if rather dour, performance.
Despite the warm family overtones, the script is far from sappy. Catch how Dad (Brennan) manipulates the family's democratic process. He wants the image of democratic equality at the same time he works it for his own advantage. There's a larger lesson here that remains topical for our own time. Also, note how Dad opts for short-term financial advantage over longer-term conservation by cutting down the hillside trees. Those roots provide long-term flood protection, but don't provide the immediate cash he needs. Thus, his motives are understandable, yet when rain comes, calamity results. We continue to be confronted by the environmental issue of short-term advantage versus long-term security; at the same time, the screenplay raises this concern long before its like became a national issue.
The values here may be conservative, but they're hardly hidebound. Catch Rev. Benton's (Stone) Sunday morning sermon. It's really a recognition of the importance of science as both a source of knowledge and a potential benefit to our lives. The message is also a long way from the type of dogmatic conservatism that sees the Bible as the last word on either worldly wisdom or natural history. Then too, the values of 4H and the family farm are as relevant now as they were then, perhaps more so now that the hard lessons of industrial farming have entered our food supply. My general point is that the movie may be dated in some ways, but the screenplay remains an intelligent one even 60 years later.
Unfortunately, the version I last saw (on TMC) was edited and failed to include the now notorious bridge scene referred to by other reviewers. It also failed to include at least one other important scene I recall from an earlier version. So viewers should be alert to edited versions. Nonetheless, the movie is generally under-rated and combines both solid entertainment values with a well thought out message that makes for very worthwhile viewing.
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