Call it a guilty pleasure, but I find this movie satisfying on several levels. I was hooked from the opening shot with Lee Garmes' cinematography capturing writer John Collier's evocation of the mysticism of the mountains, enhanced by the choral version of Frank Loesser's theme song. The fact that Joan Evans was a complete unknown discovered in a New York City High School worked for me. She seemed confused and overwhelmed much of the time, which was natural, given Farley Granger's heavy breathing and bodice-ripping efforts in her direction. As previously discussed, the supporting cast is terrific, with Raymond Massey and Charles Bickford as the patriarchs of the opposing families. They clearly enjoyed chewing up the scenery in their respective roles. Aline MacMahon is wonderful as Ma Hatfield, working tirelessly to end the hostility between the families, to little avail. Mention must be made of the youngsters, played by Gigi Perreau, Peter Miles and William Mauch (formerly Billy of the Mauch twins), for whom I felt concern whenever the bullets started to fly. I was most fortunate to view a beautiful 16mm print of the film. Lee Garmes' lighting and compositions are stunning indeed.
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