In 1931, Elizabeth Rambeau comes from England to live in California with her aunt and uncle of a winemaking dynasty, who are still wealthy despite 12 years of Prohibition. Object: marriage ...
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In 1931, Elizabeth Rambeau comes from England to live in California with her aunt and uncle of a winemaking dynasty, who are still wealthy despite 12 years of Prohibition. Object: marriage to the heir of another vineyard, to further consolidate holdings in the Valley. But John Rambeau, Elizabeth's illegitimate cousin, has other ideas about who she should marry, and sharply opposes patriarch Philippe's refusal to sell wine grapes to bootleggers. John's activities bring violence to the valley, and soap opera to the Rambeau family... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
This is not available on video, as far as I can determine, and if it does eventually become available, be sure that the CinemaScope ratio is reproduced. Winton Hoch and Universal-International's master of the color cameras, Russell Metty, did some fine location work on this one, having been granted access to over a dozen properties in northern California's world-famed Wine Country. Their work made the use of Technicolor and CinemaScope more than worthwhile.
The story is a bit pulpy but it's not that badly spun out and, surrounding Mr. Hudson, U.-I.'s all-time box-office draw, there are some fine actors, including Dorothy McGuire, the always regal Claude Rains (playing an autocratic patriarch), and the lovely Jean Simmons, fresh from a number of above-the-title roles in Twentieth-Century Fox CinemaScope costumers. Hugo Friedhofer underscores the plot's halting progress with his usual taste and finesse. I'd forgotten he had written this score (I did see it first-run.) until a broadcast some time ago on American Movie Classics (failing, once more, to "letterbox" it. Wish I could sue them. One thing is for sure...I make a point to avoid purchasing anything offered by the advertisers who now clutter up their broadcasts ad nauseum.) Friedhofer's contribution lifts this film into the Class "A" category, something that cannot be said of many U.-I. releases during the Fifties.
When this film was about to be released a friend and I, up from southern California for a brief vacation in San Francisco, suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a stop on a press junket for this film. There, just a few feet away from where we stood, was Mr. Hudson towering over the diminutive Miss Simmons. I recall the patience they exhibited as they posed for numerous pictures, while answering reporters' questions. If there was any security around for the stars' protection, we weren't aware of it...a far cry from what we might observe in these paranoid times.
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