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Wyler's "Friendly Persuasion" and "The Big Country" entitle an
authentic and significant theme which is somewhat expressed in stronger
terms in "Friendly Persuasion" but which meet with the impressive "The
The story is simple, lovely and sensitive...
Gary Cooper, head of a Quaker family, is a loving husband and a caring father who has to consider his position at the outbreak of the Civil War in Southern Indiana... Cooper believes - as a father - that a man must be guided by his own conscience...
Anthony Perkins takes the part of Cooper's son which he plays beautifully... He is the 'peace-loving' young man who does not believe in fighting... He is like his mother shattered and teared apart by the events, but also feeling uncertainty about his capacity to meet danger without giving way to fear... Perkins sees that he has to convince himself that he is not a coward, so he becomes a member of the Home Guard, ready to defend the community...
Dorothy McGuire emits pleasant emotions as the Quaker mother, projecting inner beauty to her family...
Sentimental and well done, "Friendly Persuasion" is superbly acted and directed, beautifully shot in color... The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound Recording and Best Song...
Nearly half a century old but a film with irresistible charm and atmosphere. Some might describe it as rather sickly sentimental at times, but William Wyler's touch is always assured and coaxes performances of great charm from all the principals. I saw the film for the first time in1957 and was immediately captivated by it. It has remained one of my favourite movies -and takes its place with such classics as "It's a wonderful Life" and "Casablanca" It was also the first time that I really noticed the music of Dimitri Tiomkin, who is now firmly established as my favourite film composer. He is the composer 'par excellence' in setting mood, and there is something haunting in his themes and melodies. Take away Tiomkin's soundtrack and you would destroy the film. Fortunately you can buy the CD of the soundtrack. Tiomkin also wrote the music to "It's a Wonderful Life", and "Gunfight at the OK Corral", which I find also strangely moving. Another feature of the film which adds to the overall charm is the inclusion of humorous touches such as Gary Cooper staring through two curtain hoops at the music booth at the county fair which gives him the appearance of wearing glasses. The strong storyline involves the viewer directly in that one realises the crucial choice involved in taking up arms to defend one's home or refusing to oppose the aggressor because the New Testament asks us to "turn the other cheek". So, what makes this film so memorable? I have spoken to people who think that this movie is "O.K" -"nothing special", and other such comments that suggest mediocrity. But to me , there is an atmosphere that is unforgettable- and thanks must go to the genius of Wyler, Tiomkin, Cooper and a host of talented craftsmen and women.
When Monogram Pictures decided to change its name to Allied Artists to
give it a more prestigious look, the studio didn't last too long after
that. Still had the Monogram/Bowery Boys look to it. But the biggest
and best film that little studio ever put out was this wonderful film
by William Wyler.
Gary Cooper by now had a whole lot of career roles, but this one as Jess Birdwell, Quaker farmer in Southern Indiana during the Civil War was probably his last really great performance. But for Dorothy McGuire this was her career role. She and Cooper work so well together that you think you are prying in on the family of Eliza and Jess Birdwell.
The film is based on a novel by Jessamyn West and it's about the effects of the Civil War on the Birdwell family, the parents and the children, Anthony Perkins, Phyllis Love, and Richard Eyer. The tenets of pacifism are not easy to follow, especially during time of war. And we're not talking about war overseas. But war just the other side of the Ohio River where Confederates do cross occasionally for raiding.
Each of the Birdwells feel differently about the war, including hired hand Joel Fluellen who's a runaway slave. He's got real reason to fear raiding Confederates. Phyllis Love is in love with Peter Mark Richman who's a non-Quaker friend of the family and he's gone off to war. And Anthony Perkins feels it his duty to defend what they've earned and sweat for.
Perkins got an Oscar nomination for his role. It's a telling portrayal of the angst of youth brought up in a pacifist house. Perkins is a truly torn individual.
Years ago I met Anthony Perkins at a science fiction convention in NYC. The poor man looked nervous and ill at ease in those surroundings. He was there because of the Psycho films and the role of Norman Bates with which he had become so identified with. I have to say he looked grateful that someone asked him about Friendly Persuasion. He said he admired both Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire as thorough going professionals and it was a pleasure to be working with them and William Wyler and associated with Friendly Persuasion.
In some of the lighter moments of Friendly Persuasion before the war hits home, Cooper and Perkins go on a trip to sell some of their farm produce. They stop at widow Marjorie Main's house with her three eligible daughters who haven't seen a male face in ages. In a more liberal age it would have been quite explicit what daughter Edna Skinner does to Perkins. Cooper knows though, you can see it in his face as to what's coming.
Friendly Persuasion's popularity was helped a great deal by Pat Boone's record of the title song which was a Gold record for him. But a really great version was done by Bing Crosby for the Longines Symphony in the Sixties. It was nominated for Best Song, but lost to Doris Day's Que Sera Sera.
One of Gary Cooper's best screen moments ever is the death scene with his friend Robert Middleton. Middleton who is also Peter Mark Richman's father is Cooper's best friend and friendly rival every Sunday before church for him and Quaker Meeting for Gary. They have a friendly horse race on the way. Cooper finds Middleton shot and dying from a Confederate soldier. Middleton and Cooper both are superb and I guarantee not a dry eye was in any movie house when this was first released. It's followed by a scene where Cooper disarms the Confederate who killed Middleton and let him go. His Quaker faith kicked right in.
Dorothy McGuire in the meantime forcibly hosts a rebel patrol who confiscate the Bidwell stores. They're about to confiscate the pet goose Samantha for dinner when she whacks the offender with a broom. The goose gets a pardon. She stood up and fought for what she loved even if it was a family pet. It's one of her best screen moments.
William Wyler took some southern California landscape and did a marvelous job in recreating Indiana of 1862. He brought home a winner in every way for Allied Artists.
And Friendly Persuasion will pleasure thee in a hundred ways.
A beautiful and sensitive film of a Quaker family whose peaceful existence is disrupted by the Civil War. Beautifully photographed with superb performances by Cooper and McGuire. Anthony Perkins gives an exceptional performance as the son who wrestles with the notion of fighting over his pacifistic views. William Wyler's direction is brilliant. A real gem!
Gary Cooper shines as a Quaker alongside a resolute and opinionated Dorothy
McGuire as his "congregation elder" wife. They live in the rural "North" at
the outbreak of the Civil War, raising 2 eligible teenagers (a boy and a
girl), as well as a 10 year old boy. The emminent Civil War has the Quaker
community divided on the issue of pacivism. Several "older men" in the
congregation quickly turn coats, urging Cooper to join them in fighting the
Rebels who plunder and burn Northern villages and kill women and children.
When put to the true test, it is Cooper who proves to be the "true
A love story between the teenage girl and her soldier suiter is a beautiful bonus. The entire cast is excellent, and the timeless theme song by Pat Boone puts the icing on the cake. This is a 5-star classic. You'll want to watch "Friendly Persuasion" again and again.*****
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.
Heartwarming, funny (sometimes hilarious), serious, beautifully filmed -
many shots are so perfectly framed you could hang them on your wall. Every
performance is perfect for the character in the story, including the goose,
The change of pace provided by the interweaving of the characters' different stories, the appropriate & beautiful music for the various scenes, the sense of getting to know interesting people, genuine married love between two strong characters as well as the awakening of young love in a setting which has not had sex thrust in their faces, real friendship, the respect paid to religious convictions along with gentle humor at personal foibles - everything adds up to a wonderful film which sticks in the memory and needs just the opening bars of the title song to be brought back gloriously to mind.
Truly, one of the all-time great movies.
"Friendly Persuasion" is the second best movie about the Civil War. "Gone
With The Wind" is the first. This movie is about the Quakers living in
Indiana in 1862 and how they are trying to cope with the Civil War. They
live a peaceful life until the war happens in their backyard and they must
decide whether to fight or follow their religion and sit back.
The Quaker family consists of: Jess Birdwell, head of the family (Gary Cooper); his wife, Eliza, a Quaker minister (Dorothy McGuire); two sons, and a daughter. The rest of the cast was perfect. This is my favorite of Gary Cooper's movies. The whole family can enjoy it.
The movie received many Academy Award nominations except for Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire as best actor and best actress. My favorite character is the Widow Hudspeth (Marjorie Main). Widow Hudspeth is similar to Ma Kettle. It must have been hard for Gary Cooper to keep a straight face when working with Marjorie Main. They were both funny and delightful together. Ms. Main made one more movie and retired in 1957; she refused to do television because the pace was too fast.
As I recall this movie was unofficially black-listed because of who wrote the screenplay. Such a shame as this is one of the few perfect movies ever made. Every frame is measured and presented perfectly. Every role is played perfectly. Just watch the opening scene and you will be hooked. It is a truly magically experience.
This is the interesting and solidly performed story of a family of
Quakers in Southern Indiana in 1862 . This religious sect is strongly
opposed to violence and war . The official name of the Quaker religion
is Society of Friends , members of the faith are called Friends and
nicknamed Quakers ; the book written by Jessamyn West is called "The
Friendly Persuasion", meaning the faith , which more specifically
refers to the Quakers' way of communicating. It concerns about "Jess
Birdwell" (Gary Cooper , he initially turned the film down because he
didn't believe the American public would accept him as Quaker , and
role was originally intended for Bing Crosby) is the patriarch of a
family of Quakers , a Christian sect that refuses to take part in wars
. His son "Josh" (Anthony Perkins) wishes to adhere to pacifism but
worried he's using his religion to hide his cowardice , he then enlists
the army , causing angry on his mother (Dorothy McGuire , though
Katharine Hepburn turned down the role and Jean Arthur was considered
to play her) . Their children are very special : the little boy Jess
Jr. (Richard Eyer) lives in conflict with the goose "Samantha" . And
"Mattie" (Phyllis Love) falls in love with an Union soldier, "Gard
Jordan" (Peter Mark Richman) . As Jess/Gary Cooper (before Cooper
became involved Montgomery Clift was offered the role of Birdwell, but
turned it down) along with his family attempt to remain to its ideals ,
despite the Civil War which touches their farm life .
This enjoyable film packs comedy , religious and familiar life , sense of mood , spectacular battles and lots of reflection . As it deals with the conflict between maintaining a religious belief and reality when takes place a bloody war ; as the flick utterly catches up the spectator in the family's troubles . This earnest picture captures a tender humor and mirth which pervades the whole story ; in addition , at the end occurs a stirring climax . Agreeable screenplay , originally released without screen writing credit due to blacklisting of Michael Wilson; credits restored in 1996 . Spectacular battle depicted in the film based on facts, as the final is very exciting , it was against the Confederate raiders led by General John Hunt Morgan ; on July 9, 1863, 450 members of the Indiana Home Guard met John Hunt Morgan's raiders in battle south of the town of Corydon, Indiana . Gary Cooper as a devout Quaker father and Dorothy McGuire as his wife are very well as the parents ; furthermore , Anthony Perkins is nice as the son fearing being taken for a coward . Good support cast such as Robert Middleton , Peter Mark Richman , Richard Hale , Russell Simpson and uncredited , almost extras : Robert Fuller , William Schallert , John Dierkes , Joe Turkel and Doug McClure . Spectacular and glowingly gorgeous scenarios , including amusing race horses . Colorful and glimmer cinematography by Ellsworth Fredericks in De Luxe Colour Photography . Sensitive as well as moving musical score by the classical composer Dimitri Tiomkin .
The motion picture come out of a minor Hollywood studio , Allied Artists , was compellingly directed by the maestro William Wyler . Wyler was considered by his peers as second only to John Ford as a master craftsman of cinema and the winner of three Best Director Academy Awards . Wyler was a great professional who had a career full of successes in all kind of genres as Film Noir : ¨Detective story¨ , ¨The desperate hours¨ , ¨Dead End¨ ; Western : ¨The Westener¨, ¨Friendly persuasion¨ , ¨Big Country¨ , but his speciality were dramas such as : ¨Jezebel¨ , ¨The letter¨ , ¨Wuthering Heights¨ , ¨The best years of our lives¨, ¨Mrs Miniver¨, ¨The heiress¨ , ¨the little Foxes¨ , ¨The collector¨ and Comedy as two films starred by Audrey Hepburn : ¨How to steal a million¨ and of course the immortal comedy-romance ¨Roman's holiday¨ . ¨Friendly persuasion¨ results to be a good film that catches up the audience . Rating : Better than average , worthwhile seeing .
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