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

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Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
John Wickliff Shawnessy
...
...
Nell Gaither
Nigel Patrick ...
Prof. Jerusalem Webster Stiles
...
Orville 'Flash' Perkins
...
Garwood B. Jones
...
Ellen Shawnessy
...
T.D. Shawnessy
Jarma Lewis ...
Barbara Drake
Tom Drake ...
Bobby Drake
...
Ezra Gray
Russell Collins ...
Niles Foster
...
Southern Officer
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Storyline

An abolitionist John Wickliff Shawnessy drifts away from his high school sweetheart Nell Gaither and enters into a passionate love affair with a wealthy New Orleans belle Susanna Drake but is tricked into marrying her when she falsely tells him that she is pregnant. But even after Susanna tells him the truth his still stays with her out of love. But John soon learns that Susanna is hiding a dark secret which leads her into madness. This madness causes Susanna to flee to the South during the Civil War taking their son with her. John leaves home and enlisting in the Northern Army as his only means to pursue Susanna. Written by Matt Patay

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In The Great Tradition Of Civil War Romance

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War | Western

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 December 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El árbol de la vida  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(original) | (Turner Library Print)

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was the first to be photographed in the MGM Camera 65 process; the second was Ben-Hur (1959). Later, the process was renamed Ultra Panavision 70. It involved using a 65mm negative with the addition of lenses that applied a 1.25 X anamorphic squeeze. When projected, the aspect ratio would be 2.21:1 X 1.25 = 2.76:1. However, around 1957 theaters were still showing Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), which forced MGM to release this film only on 35mm anamorphic prints, with an aspect ratio of 2.55:1. MGM used the older CinemaScope format because it allowed for the inclusion of four-track magnetic audio, in contrast to the mono-only audio offered by 2.35:1 optical soundtrack prints. See more »

Goofs

After Lincoln's 1860 election, the crowd sings "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". However, Julia Ward Howe wrote the poem, on which the song was based, for the Atlantic Monthly in 1861. See more »

Quotes

John Wickliff Shawnessy: [On the riverboat with Susanna, visiting the South for the first time] You were right, Mrs. Shawnessy, I like your river. I really do. It even smells good.
Susanna Drake: I knew that you'd understand it. Which is more than most Yankees do. Now, that's something I don't understand. 'Cause all you have to do is go South once and you LOVE it!
John Wickliff Shawnessy: Well, to us Yankees, the South is not too easy to understand... You ever read "Uncle Tom's Cabin"?
Susanna Drake: [Shocked] "Uncle Tom's Cabin"? Phoo... I haven't married an abolitionist, ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Norma Jean & Marilyn (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Never Till Now
(uncredited)
Music by Johnny Green
Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
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User Reviews

Typical late MGM, trying to recapture past glory
20 August 1999 | by (New Hope, PA, USA) – See all my reviews

It takes forever for the Civil War to begin, but this expensive, massively scaled MGM adaptation and bowdlerization of Ross Lockridge's now-forgotten best seller is moderately entertaining. Elizabeth Taylor, stunning in lushly detailed period costumes, has some fine moments of hysteria, a good warm-up to the meatier roles she starred in the 60's. Montgomery Clift holds his own against the melodramatic machinations of the plot and, as always, he looks great paired with Taylor. Agnes Moorehead is miscast, as she so often was during her film career, but the rest of the players come through nicely.

The film lacks the detailed historical touches that enrich "Gone With the Wind", so which it has often been compared. There are a few howling anachronisms (the interiors, particularly, reflect 1950's Decorator Dreams of home decor) and, in the usual MGM style, everyone is ludicrously over-dressed. The outdoor location shooting is refreshing, however. The scene where Taylor and Clift visit the burned-out ruins of her childhood home is particularly striking (the actual ruins of Windsor, a Mississippi plantation house, where used for the shot).

Director Edward Dmytryk keeps things moving along, and the score by Johnny Green is a nice additon, though Johnny Mathis' title ballad is an odd disappointment.


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