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Civil War veteran Josiah Grey comes to a small town to be a gospel minister. In time he has a family and many friends, but he also finds friction with a few of his parishioners. A young doctor grates at what he feels is the parson's interference in the scientific treatment of patients, and a mine owner resents Grey's protection of an old sharecropper whose small plot of land stands in the way of his continued mining. Grey must face a public health crisis and a lynch mob as a result, all seen and described through the eyes and memory of Grey's young nephew John. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
'Stars in My Crown' is over 50 years old, yet in it's humor, it's message of brotherhood, and it's depiction of small-town Western America at a time when religion was the true center of everyone's lives, this film has rarely been equaled!
The story is told through the observations of young John Kenyon (sensitively portrayed by Quantum Leap's Dean Stockwell, with Daktari's Marshall Thompson voicing Kenyon as an adult), who lives with Soldier-turned-Minister Josiah Dozier Grey (Joel McCrea, in one of his finest performances) and his wife, Harriet (Ellen Drew). Grey is kind, warm, and totally sincere, with a penchance for telling funny stories with a Message, rather than being 'preachy'...in short, the kind of Parson who can win hearts, as well as souls!
Grey's congregation includes some of Hollywood's finest character actors, including Lewis Stone (Judge Hardy) as a crusty old doctor, James Mitchell (Days of Our Lives) as his doubting physician son, Alan Hale (The Adventures of Robin Hood) as a Civil War buddy with a large family (including 'Matt Dillon' James Arness!), Amanda Blake (who would costar with Arness in 'Gunsmoke') as the schoolmarm, Arthur Hunnicutt (The Big Sky) as a local character nicknamed 'Chloroform'(!), Oscar-winner Ed Begley as a rich mine owner, and, in a remarkable performance, Juano Hernandez as 'Famous Uncle Prill', a Black farmer who experiences with dignity the racism of the time.
Director Jacques Tourneur, best-known for his gothic classic 'Cat People', shows patience and restraint, allowing the story to build under its own steam, which gives the climaxes (a typhoid epidemic and a Klan near-lynching) an emotional wallop. McCrea's scene with the incensed Klan members foreshadows Gregory Peck's confrontation with the lynch party in 'To Kill a Mockingbird', and is truly unforgettable.
'Stars in My Crown' is a rich, wonderful film that your family will cherish. It is on the short list of my favorite films, and is one that you can enjoy for years to come!
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