A graduating poet/teacher falls in love with a Southern woman, and then the Civil War and her past create problems.



(screenplay), (novel)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Orville 'Flash' Perkins
Garwood B. Jones
Ellen Shawnessy
T.D. Shawnessy
Barbara Drake
Bobby Drake
Ezra Gray
Niles Foster
Southern Officer


It's the mid-nineteenth century in Freehaven, Raintree County, Indiana. John Shawnessy has just graduated from high school at the top of his class, with a promising career as a writer. He is a romantic, principled, and an idealist, believing the story of the golden raintree - after which the county is named - growing somewhere, most likely in the county's swamp area, searching for and locating it which would provide all the answers to one's life questions. An idea passed down from his father, John also has a strong sense of place as belonging, and as such there is much anticipation in the probable marriage between John and his sweetheart Nell Gaither, a born and bred Raintree girl. However, there is an undeniable mutual attraction on first sight between John and Susanna Drake, a visiting southern belle. Despite Susanna's temporary stay in Raintree County which means that she and John may not have a future, they eventually do marry out of circumstance, leaving behind a heartbroken Nell... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In The Great Tradition Of Civil War Romance


Drama | Romance | War | Western


See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 December 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El árbol de la vida  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(original) | (Turner Library Print)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The first preview for this film was held January 24, 1957 at the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara, the film ran 3 hours and 6 minutes. On March 19, 1957 the New York Times reported that retakes would begin later that month so "that certain dramatic points will be emphasized by re-shooting in close-up and that extra footage will be added to achieve smoother transitions in the sprawling drama." When the film was ready for release two options were offered to exhibitors, either the 168 minute version as a two screenings a day feature or a continuous performance version that ran 151 minutes. See more »


At the party celebrating Lincoln's election, a guest smears charcoal on some of his face. In the next shot, his face is almost entirely black. See more »


Susanna Drake: That 4th of July race... what happens when you win?
John Wickliff Shawnessy: Well, according to a friend of mine, if I win, a beautiful girl will place a garland of oak leaves on my sun-colored locks.
Susanna Drake: I'd like to be that girl.
John Wickliff Shawnessy: Maybe it can be arranged?
Susanna Drake: Oh, it can be arranged, all right. *I'll* arrange it.
See more »


Referenced in Operation Raintree (1957) See more »


The Battle Hymn of The Republic
Music by William Steffe and lyrics by Julia Ward Howe
(written on 18-11-1861)
See more »

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User Reviews

Restored 190 minute version the one to own

The newly restored version of RAINTREE COUNTY contains a short studio-created documentary on its filming, the original wide screen trailer and wide-screen renderings of the main title, the restored overture, intermission screen, and entr'acte - and yet runs the film itself in conventional tv screen dimensions (go figure !!!). None of the fifteen restored minutes is of any added value (scenes that follow these are somewhat illuminated by the footage but one has all the information one needs to understand the scene without what went before). Oddly enough it is obvious even to those who don't know the general release print by heart when the insertions occur - the film changes its look from bright and colorful to grainy, washed out and somewhat out of focus (So the wizards couldn't be bothered to restore the missing footage to the same pristine effect as the previously released footage?). The scenes with Clift that are pre-disfiguring accident are obvious here: a: scene with parents in kitchen; b: street scene with Marvin and early race attempt; c: with Taylor in the photo parlor; d: the race itself; e: the confession scene. Watch the face itself and listen to the voice - the wide smile is no longer possible after the surgery and the voice is constricted and tending towards a mumble, possibly due to the pain medication he was taking at the time. For the record - restored scenes: Cornfield scene; Father's illegitimacy confession; Drake's attack on negro slave; Clift and paper editor re job; childbirth sequence; scenes in Indianapolis looking for Taylor (including Rod Taylor/photographer); discussion of politics with Rod Taylor and Patrick; Taylor gathering of dolls in attic. One is struck by the marvelous supporting work of Nigel Patrick - I still think he deserved an Oscar nom for this performance. Elizabeth Taylor is still impressive in her first Oscar nominated role. Clift seems wooden. The Oscar-nominated sets, costumes and score still seem worthy. Note that the age of the child as cast is anachronistic - the war would have already been over by the time it starts in the film.

19 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
Did anyone else not like Nell? npaxton-3
What is it I don't get about Montgomery Clift? tarmcgator
DVD??? rlapetina
Musical Score doesn't seem too good. oldmovies
end? michelle_p23
m. clift wasn't looking too good La-z-girl_recliner
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