Following the Second World War, a northern cannery combine negotiates for the purchase of a large tract of uncultivated Georgia farmland. The major portion of the land is owned by Julie Ann...
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Following the Second World War, a northern cannery combine negotiates for the purchase of a large tract of uncultivated Georgia farmland. The major portion of the land is owned by Julie Ann Warren and has already been optioned by her unscrupulous, draft dodging husband, Henry. Now the combine must also obtain two smaller plots - one owned by Henry's cousin Rad McDowell, a combat veteran with a wife and family; the other by Reeve Scott, a young black man whose mother had been Julie's childhood Mammy. But neither Rad nor Reeve is interested in selling and they form an unprecedented black and white partnership to improve their land. Although infuriated by the turn of events, Henry remains determined to push through the big land deal. And when Reeve's mother Rose dies, Henry tries to persuade his wife to charge Reeve with illegal ownership of his property, confident the the bigoted Judge Purcell will rule against a Negro. Written by
In 1967, for some unknown reason, my father took me, my sister, and my mother to see this film. It was pretty bad. It was also the first time I saw a film starring Jane Fonda and Michael Caine, and the only time I saw a film directed by Otto Preminger, in a movie house. As such it has significance to me - but that is marred by it being such a ridiculous film.
The Civil Rights Movement was in full gear, and Preminger, always wanting to be on the cutting edge of movie making and current events, made this film about the "modern south". The heroes are the poor white trash (John Philip Law) and the poor African American sharecropper (Robert Hooks) who worked together to build up a bigot-less America. Their enemies are led by sneaky, greedy, land grabber Michael Caine, as well as George Kennedy, Burgess Meredith, and most of the other whites. The film ends with Caine discovering that his villainy kills one of the few human beings he loves.
There was plenty of saxophone playing (supposedly by Caine) who does that to get into the mood to have sexual encounters. And there was little else that was memorable.
One thing I did recall was a confrontation in Burgess Meredith's courtroom, where he is hoping to disengage Hooks deed to the valuable land by typical southern skulduggery. But Hooks is defended by a Yankee lawyer (Jim Backus, in possibly the best performance in the film - and a short one), who produces the original documents that show that Hooks owns the farmland. Meredith tries to question "this chicken scrawl" signature at the end of the paper. Backus points out it is the signature of Meredith's grandfather, also a judge. That was the best moment of the film - you can imagine what the film is really like.
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