I'd Climb the Highest Mountain (1951) Poster

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A terrific picture of rural life
steveareno4314 February 2007
I had seen this movie 30 years ago with my Grandad in rural middle Tennessee and have searched for it any times since. However, I could not remember the name of it. I found it yesterday on TBN and it was all I had remembered it to be. The story as well as the scenery was first class. Many of the homes were still like that in Middle Tn when I first seen the movie. Based on the scenery, the story, and what my relatives told me of rural life in the early 20th century this appears like a pretty accurate portrayal. While life was simpler it was not without tragedy.

Well worth seeing.
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Another Heartfelt Americana from the Underrated Henry King
Kalaman21 May 2004
Simple, easy-to-take evocation of a 19th century rural religious life in Georgia, "I'd Climb the Highest Mountain" is one of director Henry King's profoundest and most personal works. I just saw it for the first time. A friend recommended it to me a while back, told me it's a timeless experience I would never forget. My expectations were further aroused when I found out the director had been Henry King, one of the most underrated American directors of his time.

The screenwriter is Lamar Trotti, who used to collaborate with John Ford, and who previously worked with director King in films "In Old Chicago"(1937), "Alexander's Ragtime Band"(1938) and "Captain From Castile"(1947).

Filled with lush, resplendent scenery of Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains & gorgeously photographed in Technicolor, "I'd Climb…" is the uplifting story of a dedicated, scrupulous preacher William Thompson (William Lundigan) and his marriage to a charismatic city girl Mary Elizabeth (Susan Hayward). They settle in a small peaceful town populated by simple town folk trying to live, survive happily and peacefully.

Hayward and Lundigan are outstanding throughout, and give some of their most moving performances. Narrated by Elizabeth, the story flows nicely through several moments of tenderness. The preacher heals the community, providing hope and support in time of a fever epidemic, and transforms an atheistic neighbor into accepting the community's uncomplicated way of life.

Nothing of significance happens; it is a film of hope and harmony, a sense of time and place, beautifully realized.
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A labor of love by the great Lamar Trotti
gerdeen-131 January 2011
Lamar Trotti, one of the finest writers in Hollywood during its golden age, was a native of Atlanta. The year before he died, he was both producer and screenwriter for this tale of a Georgia mountain preacher and his beautiful wife in the early years of the 20th century. The movie was shot on location in what was then a very rural area of the state, and Trotti promised the locals that their culture would be respected.

He kept his word. "I'd Climb the Highest Mountain" avoids condescension toward the people of Appalachia and their religion, which makes it an unusual film. But thankfully it's not too sentimental either, though it is ultimately an inspirational film.

The story is adapted from a 1910 novel by Corra Harris, a Georgia writer who was once nationally famous, and somewhat controversial, though she was not much remembered by the time the movie was made. Harris had been married to a minister herself, but the story was not autobiographical. It does have the ring of authenticity, though. The backwoods was really the backwoods a century ago, and a stylish, city-bred woman would have felt restless even if she was deeply in love.

Henry King was a great choice to direct the film. He was religious himself, and at home with the material, and he had begun his long filmmaking career in the era in which the story takes place. Stars William Lundigan and Susan Hayward do an adequate job, though she seems just too glamorous for her surroundings. Ironically, from today's perspective, the fact that Lundigan is no longer much of a "name" makes him a better fit for the role of the preacher.

The scenery is a big part of the film's appeal. North Georgia is not as spectacular as the Rockies, or even the Great Smokies, but it is a gorgeous area. And it was largely unspoiled when this movie was made.

I notice that many Georgians writing about this movie have strong memories of the time when it was being made. In those days, it was rare indeed for a motion picture to be shot in Georgia. People drove from hours away to see what Hollywood types looked like.

Susan Hayward's move to Georgia in the late 1950s had nothing to do with this film, and her new home wasn't in the mountains, but what she did was unusual for a Hollywood star of that era. She met and married a Georgian with the unglamorous name of Eaton Chalkley, and she lived with him on his farm when she wasn't making films. Chalkley was the love of her life. When he died, she moved out of the state because she couldn't bear to live at their home without him. When she herself passed away, she was buried beside him, in the cemetery of a church near his farm.

Whenever I see "I'd Climb the Highest Mountain," I think of the Chalkleys.
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Henry King's Americana
briantaves6 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'd Climb the Highest Mountain is a representative achievement of one of Hollywood's most distinguished directors, Henry King. Working from the 1910s through 1962, King compiled a record of unparalleled duration, productivity, and artistry. Henry King's career is so long and prolific, and the documentation so immense, that he has, in effect, defied analysis by scholars. Born in 1886, he died in 1982, and during his 96 years he granted countless interviews, some of which have been published in an oral history; I was one of those so privileged to meet him, while finishing my Ph.D. at the University of Southern California. Henry King was gifted with an extraordinary memory and a skillful intellect that made such encounters particularly memorable. Many of you have probably seen King's commentary in Kevin Brownlow's series on Hollywood in the silent era some years back.

King's films are better known than he is, and he prided himself on his ability to handle diverse stories. Examples range from such contrasting genres as historical adventure, like Romola, The Magic Flame, Lloyds of London, Stanley and Livingstone, Little Old New York, The Black Swan, Captain From Castile, Prince of Foxes, King of the Khyber Rifles, and Untamed; to melodrama, like Stella Dallas, I Loved You Wednesday, Seventh Heaven, Remember the Day, Deep Waters, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, This Earth is Mine, and Beloved Infidel; to westerns, like The Winning of Barbara Worth, Ramona, Jesse James, The Gunfighter, and The Bravados; to musicals, like Alexander's Ragtime Band and Carousel; to war films, like The Woman Disputed, She Goes to War, A Yank in the RAF, A Bell for Adano, and Twelve O'Clock High; and concluding his career with a trio of modern literary adaptations, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Sun Also Rises, and Tender is the Night.

For some thirty years, the bulk of his creative period, King was associated with a single studio, Twentieth Century-Fox. He was a courtly gentleman of the old school, and his films reflect this mannered tone and pace. In all of his pictures, even his action films, King is most interested in the mind and motivations of his characters. He had a keen ear for the quieter side of life, and unlike so much of modern cinema, there are no displays of raw emotion. King values the ordinary, daily yet largely forgotten aspects of life, and is attentive to the silences, the pauses, the words left unsaid as well as those uttered. His characters tend to be isolated, even when in a group, and he accepts honest sentiment and is expert at depicting a convincing story of two people in love.

I'd Climb the Highest Mountain is a film that reflects King's greatest achievement, the expression of Americana on the screen. Americana is the dramatic capturing of the values, culture, history, personalities, and character of the nation, a vision of the United States as a living entity of people and ideals. Such films can cut across many genres and ideologies. Among King's films of this type are Tol'able David, Lightnin', Over the Hill, the Will Rogers version of State Fair, Carolina, Way Down East, The Country Doctor, In Old Chicago, Maryland, Chad Hanna, Margie, and Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie. King's Americana is more than nostalgia, yearning for the rosy afterglow of a past that never was. He evokes the past in its full light, and memory can prove to be a bitter, wrenching experience, even with the the passing of the years.

King also had a fundamental belief in the efficacy and importance of religious faith; he was a convert to Catholicicism, and his other religious films include The White Sister, The Song of Bernadette, and David and Bathsheba. I'd Climb the Highest Mountain is the key intersection in his work of these themes of faith and Americana, and was based on an old Saturday Evening Post story and filmed in the mountains of North Georgia.
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A looks-good, feels-good, ends good film.
flikflak15 February 2002
The charm of the North Georgia Mountains as they used to be, coupled with the human warmth of the acting captured on beautiful color filming, makes this film a perennial classic. The story of a moderate minister and the ordeals he faces, as his wife faces her own. They come to combine their trials as well as their triumphs. A glimpse at olden times, but which reveals that folks back then were quite like us. Yet wholesome and safe for the entire family.
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A year in the life of a pastor and his wife
jjnxn-112 October 2013
Warm piece of Americana, based on Corra Harris' semi-autobiographical novel The Circuit Rider's Wife with Susan as the new bride of country parson William Lundigan and her travails learning the ways of his flock. This is one of her more subdued roles but she gets one opportunity to show off the Hayward moxie. Although she didn't recall the film itself with any special affection she did become enamored of the Georgia countryside where it was filmed, eventually falling for and marrying a Georgian businessman and settling in Carrollton, ultimately at her passing having it be her final resting place. Aside from Lundigan and her fine performances there is quality work by the entire supporting cast with Alexander Knox a standout. A good family film.
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A Mountain Worthy to Climb ****
edwagreen18 June 2006
William Lundigan and Susan Hayward starred in this 1951 film regarding the trials and tribulations of a preacher and his wife.

The scenery was truly beautiful in the part of Georgia where the film was made.

Alexander Knox, so memorable in 1944's Wilson, steals the film in another wonderful performance as the dirt farmer, a non-believer, whose child drowns accidentally while under Hayward and Lundigan's care. That scene in itself will just tug at your heart.

A film of the human spirit beautifully realized by Lundigan and Hayward.
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A wholesome but exciting and inspirational story of a circuit riding preacher.
dugfowlr15 April 2001
This movie was being filmed in the mountains of Cleveland, Georgia, at the time I had just finished high school in Atlanta, and one of my co-workers was from that town. I saw it as it was first released the following year, and enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery as well as fine acting by Susan Hayward, who later married a Georgian and made her home in Carrollton. The author, Cora Harris, was married to a Methodist circuit riding pastor, and had a good understanding of the trials and triumphs of pastors. I would heartily recommend this film along with "A Man Called Peter" and "One Foot in Heaven" as among the best that Hollywood offered when it sought to inspire better behavior.
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I really loved the plot and acting of this movie.
jmc75923 March 2008
I believe that everyone involved with the story itself, screenwriter, director, production as well as the actors' portrayal was very good. It showed an accurate glimpse back to a much simpler place and time in rural Southern customs and attitudes concerning the human plight, as well as the controversy that always surrounds religion even in a small community in the mountains of North Georgia.

My family's roots were started there and many who have passed on lie underneath the red clay, where I too one day shall lay this body down. They don't have writers or actors today who could do this film. 20th Century Fox did well in backing this story. Don't know if it made them money at the box office, though it made a lasting impression of a precious moment in our past when life was lived at a much slower pace. A neighbor was a person you knew. Ahhh, to love thy neighbor as thyself.......what a radical idea !!!!!!! ENJOY !!!
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Charming and refreshing escape to a simpler time. Great talent.
J B Thackery24 February 2003
They were simpler times, in the 19th century N. Georgia Mountains. A good portrayal of period-referenced American sentiments and sensibilities overall. A very high-profile cast performs in poetic unison against the pleasing backgrounds. A full range of human emotion is encapsulated within a smoothly flowing plot and dialogue. Hope prevails over life's challenges. Kudos to the director for capturing it all within a wonderfully coordinated conceptual frame.
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Solid, Yet Not Quite Scriptural
ccthemovieman-17 November 2005
This was a pretty good movie in that the main character was a solid preacher, not the flawed one seen in all modern-day films. The only chink in his armor was that he married an unbeliever, something a sincere minister (William Lundigan) such as the one shown here, would NEVER do.

Susan Hayward's character, the minister's wife, is annoying at times but at least she admits her weaknesses and doubts and then realizes the doubts were unfounded. However, her allegiance, even at the end with a quote from Scripture, is not to God but to her husband. She thinks her purpose in life is to follow him, not Him!

Interwoven in this story are a couple of touching stories of relationships that are transformed from hardened to soft with the patient help from the preacher. It's basically life in strict small Georgia town in Protestant church setting.

Overall, a nice story and good family viewing, as the cliché goes, but nothing extraordinary to be honest. Worth at least one look
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A Ministerial Film
enochbrandon4 July 2007
This movie is a great representation of the many challenges that a minister faces in his career and it is well written from the wife's prospective. It shows that a minister is made better and stronger by a good wife by his side. The setting is North Georgia and shows the wonderful Georgian countryside. The writing is also very good. I think what makes me like this movie most is the fact that this is the one of maybe two times that Hollywood, pre-nineteen sixty, actually portrays evangelical Christians as not only normal people but honestly devout and truthful to the Bible. It really lifts you up and makes you remember that there are people who do live by the Bible and that makes them better people.
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Charming, exciting; danger, romance; conflict, resolution.
flikflak9 February 2002
Filmed in the gorgeous North Georgia Mountains where the true story occurred. Absolutely charming scenery, sets, and acting. A wide spectrum of human nature is examined in an overall feel-good film that the whole family can watch.
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this movie is just what the pastor ordered!
Tink196616 June 2008
I had the opportunity to see this movie last night. I LOVED THIS MOVIE!! This is a good couples movie that makes you think about your marriage and your beliefs. Our Pastor says that this is the best movie ever made and he is not joking. No cursing, no sexual improprieties, just a good movie.

From marriages of the complete congregation, the movie has your heart. How many elderly couples do you know that get to the point they are only where he wants to be and where she wants to be? In the end all of them are perfectly happy to be with each other.

How many families do you know has a black sheep? Well, this movie has one to but in the end gets the girl, repents and does well within the community.

I did not even realize that the full time had passed, I just craved more movie. Sadly, all these great folks are probably not making movies anymore and that is a shame.
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Beautiful Inspirational Film! Susan Hayward Is Magnificent
olddiscs16 November 2005
I really enjoyed this wholesome, thought provoking and inspiring film "I'D Climb The Highest Mountain" Susan Hayward is magnificent as the Preachers wife.. Shes not playing an alcoholic, a murderer or a tramp here/(roles usually associated with Hayward) yet she is wonderful beautiful and touching You feel her conflict regarding her religious/life convictions with every movement & gesture She underplays and plays so well Also very good is William Lundigan in one of his better roles as the Preacher Thompson Fine supporting cast including Ruth Donnelly and Leo Genn as the atheist neighbor..Beautifully photographed.. I really enjoyed this film a an unexpected gem
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Begins wonderfully, but the religious-coated sentiment is sometimes tough to get through...
moonspinner5521 March 2008
In the early 1900s, a city girl (Susan Hayward) marries a country parson (William Lundigan) from North Georgia's hill country, coming to live with him and be the proud preacher's wife, but there are obstacles to overcome. After a spunky start, this adaptation of Corra Harris' book becomes mired in pointless, pious melodrama, coated heavily with religious uplift (which may or may not be ingenuous). The film scores points for not making the minister a stodgy sort--on the contrary, he's frisky and playful, like an overage kid, so much so that his new bride seems like a cold fish by comparison. Still, their early days together have a folksy flavor which is appealing, and a sermon the preacher gives about marriage is full of happy tears. But when a mysterious fever makes the rounds, a boy is drowned at a picnic, and the wife loses her baby and her faith in God, the film drains itself of good will. Hayward has a fun sequence scaring away a wealthy admirer of her husband, but otherwise this character doesn't allow the actress to be friendly or capricious at all; she's a dullard. Lundigan, looking like a relative of Pat Boone's, has the more colorful role (surprisingly) and his sensitivity to the townspeople is well-captured. The Technicolor photography is disappointing, as is the direction and the script--why do religious-themed movies always have to turn sanctimonious? ** from ****
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One I fondly remember watching as a child...
calvinnme20 January 2017
... and then it recently showed up on Turner Classic Movies, and I still find it touching and engaging.

Susan Hayward marries a circuit riding preacher (William Lundigan) and encounters life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia. Location photography is a plus. People who like, say, Stars in My Crown would probably like this one, too. It's an episodic film with a little laughter, more than a few tears, and a good picture of the community. You can add this one to the short list of Hollywood films with realistic depictions of the South.

A strong supporting cast helps, including Rory Calhoun as a handsome ne'er-do-well who wants to marry nice girl Barbara Bates. Her father (Gene Lockhart) naturally objects. Alexander Knox has a great supporting role as an atheist who doesn't want his children to attend Sunday school. I could wish that Ruth Donnelly got to show more of her comic skill as one of the women in the congregation. Lynn Bari has the enjoyable role of a rich woman with designs on the pastor.

Henry King was a good match for this material. There are some particularly nice moments, including the two girls tunelessly singing a hymn at the welcoming party for the preacher's wife.

Gene Lockhart's character was a pompous jerk but the rest of the folks were the kind you'd want to know for real. The minister was portrayed not as some impossibly pious paragon but a real human being of faith who wanted to care for his congregation body and spirit. Susan Hayward's morphing from spoiled city girl to strong supportive country wife was funny, touching and enjoyable to watch. This is a religious film that's never phony and can be enjoyed by anyone, believers or not.
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a simple story - that is amazingly touching
WorthlessKnowledge6 August 2014
Truly love the comments that come from 'modern-day' people who lived in the area, know the locations, etc,. and are touched in a personal way by this film. We especially loved the story of how one person's grandfather actually made the tomb-rock, and how the man that really owned the car {had} to play a part (himself) and was featured in the movie. Great stuff, thanks for sharing those interesting tidbits.

Whether movies are 'good' is of course subjective and completely based on individual tastes. But - even after seeing this movie many times - Susan Hayward's heartfelt 'speech' near the end of the movie NEVER fails to bring tears to my eyes.

To me it is a reminder of that strong, bonding, lifelong type of true love that our grandparents and parents must have definitely felt for each other. And sadly, it's something that just seems to be all too rare in today's world. Thank you, Susan.
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A second (planned) visit to the area of the filming of "I'd Climb the Highest Mtn"
wf-maxwell16 March 2006
As a native Georgian, I was on a trip to the North Georgia mountains with my parents and their friends and 2 daughters in July of 1950 (I was about to turn 12 at the time). We happened upon the site where the filming of the drowning scene was just being completed. (I still have a photo by my mother depicting me standing beside the buggy used by Lundigan and Hayworth in the movie.)

A recent showing of the movie on TV rekindled my rather nostalgic interest in that period of my life, and I've just returned from a trip to the area where the movie was filmed. Although I enjoyed visiting some of the locations used in scenes from the film, the most enjoyable aspect of my trip was a visit to Brenau College in Gainesville, Ga. where a historical society meeting was being held in which former child actors/actresses gave their recollections of the filming.

I find the film to be acceptably competent, although I wonder if Hayworth might have been better portrayed/acted in her role had she been cast opposite someone other than Lundigan. I found the portrayal of his role to be rather stilted and unconvincing.
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richardann20 August 2005
The scenes where the reverend races his buggy and later trades horses are echoed in "Friendly Persuasion (1956)." In the latter film the winner and loser in the race are reversed from "I'd Climb the Highest Mountain," as are the reasons for trading horses.

The minister is called a "circuit rider," a term which was used especially by Methodists to describe a pastor who was responsible for two, three or more rural churches at a time. The pastor would ride from church to church and hold services, often on the same day. The churches, called a "charge," also shared the cost of the parsonage. In this film the minister seems to be in charge of only one rural church, which may be a change from the original novel.
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