Well worth seeing.
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Well worth seeing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !!!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.