53 user 8 critic

Raintree County (1957)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 20 December 1957 (USA)
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:
Garwood B. Jones
Barbara 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 | Plot Synopsis


M-G-M's Mighty Motion Picture Spectacle! See more »


Drama | Romance | War | Western


Approved | 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)

Gross USA:

$5,830,000, 31 December 1957

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,080,000, 31 December 1957
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more 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 cast and crew developed code names as to how drunk Montgomery Clift was on any given day. If he was bad, they used the word Georgia, if he was very bad it was Florida and Zanzibar was used when he was off-the-charts drunk. See more »


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 »


Cousin Sam: We in the South dream of a great republic on the soil of America. Within its pillared homes dwell the most beautiful women.
Bobby Drake: [Chuckling] Oh, Sam, you are wonderful. You shovel that stuff with a golden pitchfork!
See more »


Referenced in Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime (2001) See more »


Never Till Now
Music by Johnny Green
Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
See more »

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User Reviews

sumptuous and nostalgic
22 July 2003 | by See all my reviews

An individual's life is formed by his memories. Books, music and - yes, movies - influence us. We remember the situations and the dialogue, we remember the sweet melodies. These memories enable us to react, as well as give us the ability to identify situations as they occur.

I saw "Raintree County" when I was 15. Orphaned at six, I'd just departed from an orphans home in Dallas, after nearly nine years. Knowing virtually nothing of the outside world, I was receptive to everything, every person that I encountered. That summer of 1958, I sneaked into the Forest Park Drive-In to see Elizabeth Taylor, of whom I knew little, other than that she was a breath-taking beauty, and had been recently widowed when Michael Todd's chartered plane had crashed.

The characters in the movie (when I was 15) were literal, if not visceral: the magnificence of Miss Taylor's satin gowns encased over crinoline, Lee Marvin's sharp, smart-alecky wit, the professor's lechery, Montgomery Clift's Yankee stoicism, Agnes Moorehead's curious detachment, were all primary colors.

Forty-five years have passed. Those primary colors are now a multitude of blendings and shadings of secondary colors. Montgomery Clift's character is now a beautifully controlled young man who reflects his parents' stoicism, a young man whose intelligence and self control are at the core of the film, and upon whom all characters revolve.

Originally, I thought that "Raintree County" was strictly Taylor's vehicle. She is the burr under the saddle, the exquisite seductress that interfers with Clift's heretofore regulated, almost predestined lifestyle upon his college graduation.

'Raintree' is an achingly beautiful film, and Miss Taylor, who is the most gifted in her portrayal of anguished characters, blesses the movie. Norma Shearer could be beautiful in 'Marie Antoinette", but she lacked depth. Betty Davis portrayed Sturm und Drang, but was never a clothes horse. Taylor combines the two.

Having read some of the other's comments, most of whom disliked the story, perhaps it helps to be Southern to truly love this film. And also, one wants to realize that it depicts two diametrically opposed cultures: North and South. When Northern chill mixes with Southern humidity, chaos results. And so it did, and it was known as The War Between the States.

In conclusion, one wants to luxuriate in this film: Lockridge wrote a brilliant story, and for the most part, it is well delivered. It is rich in history and characterization.

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