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 ... See full summary »
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>
A country parson (who's packin' heat!) arrives by train in small Whalesburg to take charge of the religious duties, and does so not with violence but with prayer, patience, common sense, and love for his fellow man. Joel McCrea is just about perfect in the lead: with his low-keyed preciseness and enunciation, he's like the country cousin to Henry Fonda (and, even more appealing than Fonda, McCrea has some aw-shucks sex appeal which understandably draws choir-singer Ellen Drew to him). Drew snares him, marries him, but right away starts nagging at him (good-naturedly, of course) and calling him Mr. Gray. It's too bad the screenplay (based on the book by Joe David Brown, who also wrote "Addie Pray", a.k.a. "Paper Moon") doesn't concentrate more on the courtship of the parson and his girl, or even on his unusual blend of crackle-barrel wisdom, Scripture reading and take-no-prisoners approach. Instead, the focus is more on the townspeople and their highs and lows: a black sharecropper is nearly run off his land by the Knightriders (in sheets and hoods), Typhoid fever runs rampant through the school (causing the preacher some self-doubt), and the new doctor in town, while romancing the schoolteacher, must overcome his lack of faith. This is the kind of folksy Hollywood story wherein a man and a woman can't be together in the same room without falling in love. It's sweet all right, and humanized by a good cast and a fine director (the talented Jacques Tourneur), but too often the sentiment turns cloying, slowing the pace down. Lots of now-famous faces from television turn up, including Dean Stockwell, James Mitchell, "Gunsmoke" alumni Amanda Blake and James Arness, and the Skipper's father, Alan Hale, in his final film. **1/2 from ****
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