Raintree County (1957)

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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 2,503 users  
Reviews: 42 user | 4 critic

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



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


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


In The Great Tradition Of Civil War Romance


Drama | Romance | War | Western


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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 town of Freehaven of the mythical Raintree County was created in 1956 on MGM's vast Backlot #3 at Jefferson and Overland Boulevards in Culver City, California, by re-designing a portion of an old western set and adding some new buildings such as the Freehaven Town Hall and its clock tower. In 1971, MGM's Lot #3 was demolished to make way for a new apartment and condominium complex which became known as "Raintree Estates," named for this motion picture. Several Chinese Golden Raintrees were planted around the new residential property and many of the complex's streets and buildings were named for various MGM productions. 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 »


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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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.

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