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Friendly Persuasion (1956)

Unrated | | Drama, Romance, War | 25 November 1956 (USA)
1:52 | Trailer

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The pacifist attitude of a Quaker family is tested as a result of the American Civil War.



(book), (screenplay)
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Little Jess Birdwell
Phyllis Love ...
Mattie Birdwell
Gard Jordan (as Mark Richman)
Professor Quigley
Joel Fluellen ...
Theodore Newton ...
Major Harvey
Caleb Cope
Opal Hudspeth
Marjorie Durant ...
Pearl Hudspeth
Frances Farwell ...
Ruby Hudspeth


The story of a family of Quakers in Indiana in 1862. Their religous sect is strongly opposed to violence and war. It's not easy for them to meet the rules of their religion in everyday life but when Southern troops pass the area they are in real trouble. Should they fight, despite their peaceful attitide? Written by Olaf Mertens <olafbahg@w210zrz.zrz.tu-berlin.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Drama | Romance | War | Western


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 November 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mr. Birdwell Goes to Battle  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


(as De Luxe)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


After filming started, William Wyler kept Jessamyn West on as a technical advisor. She ended up spending about a year commuting between her home in Napa Valley (CA) and the apartment Wyler rented for her in Beverly Hills. See more »


When Jess Birdwell sends the children upstairs after mother Eliza retires to the barn, he says, "up stairs to bed, all of thee!" In Quaker dialect, the pronoun thee is used as the objective case of thou, and is used only when addressing an individual. He should have said, "up stairs to bed, all of you!". See more »


Jess Birdwell: I'm just his father, Eliza, not his conscience. A man's life ain't worth a hill of beans except he lives up to his own conscience.
See more »


Version of Friendly Persuasion (1975) See more »


Indiana Holiday
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
See more »

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User Reviews

Quite Satisfying, With Thoughtful Drama & Many Good Lighter Moments
22 October 2004 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

This fine adaptation of "Friendly Persuasion" is quite satisfying, with thoughtful drama that takes place in an interesting and believable setting, plus many good lighter moments. Though the story ultimately focuses on just a couple of the characters' concerns, along the way it provides an effective overview of their lives as a whole.

Gary Cooper is surprisingly believable in a somewhat atypical role as a Quaker father. Dorothy McGuire is well-cast as the sometimes fretful mother, and Anthony Perkins works very well as the son torn between his family and what he perceives as his duty. Walter Catlett is a bit over-the-top as the organ salesman, but he is entertaining, and his character is used well. In fact, the subplot with the organ is an interesting contrast with the main plot about the war, mirroring a couple of the same themes in a much less consequential context.

The setting in the American Civil War is well-conceived, and the family's dilemmas are portrayed sympathetically and convincingly. It is such a nice contrast with the type of movie that has to make its points through heavy-handed, contrived events, and it offers some worthwhile thoughts without pretending to offer easy, superficial answers.

Besides all that, it's a thoroughly enjoyable movie because of the many lighter, amusing moments. Director William Wyler and the cast work them in nicely with the more serious material, and the film maintains a harmonious balance throughout. It all makes for a very worthy and memorable picture.

25 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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