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A female doctor returns from the city to her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia in the 1930s, intending to bring modern medical care to the town's impoverished and ill-educated residents. However, she finds herself going against the local "medicine woman," who believes that her simple, backwoods remedies and methods are sufficient and distrusts the new doctor's "big-city" ways. Written by
Interesting story, but does a disservice to mountain people
Synopsis: In the 1920s-30s, Dr. Meg Laurel, a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, goes to Boston and becomes a doctor. To make a long story short, she returns to the mountains, thinking to be of service to the natives. She clashes with, learns from, and teaches a few things to the local Granny woman who provides what little medical care the people of the community receive until Dr. Meg arrives. The people of the mountains fear her and her "brought-on" medical treatments and medicines. They call her "evil" and "wicked" and threaten her repeatedly with "hayullfar" (hellfire, that is). Lots of shotguns are bandied about. It's a mighty struggle for all involved.
Opinion: The story is intriguing. Do not, however, watch this movie if you are truly interested in Appalachian culture. It would have been about 10x more intriguing if the mountain people had been - with the exception of the Granny woman, played excellently by Jane Wyman, and delightful child actress playing a girl named Gloria - even slightly more believable or complex. The accents come in three varieties - close, caricature, and no attempt made. The language and customs likewise. There is a ridiculous amount of behavior on the part of the mountain people predicated upon superstitions. While mountain people of the time were undoubtedly superstitious, the movie goes a little over the top with this conceit, including a bizarre portrayal of a "sin eater" (portrayed by a bearded and altogether scary James Woods, no less, who must have based his take on this role on interviews with Richard Manuel in "The Last Waltz"), one of those mythic creatures not unlike the unicorn or Bigfoot about which many theories and little evidence, at least in mountain culture, anyway, exist.
And if you, like another sadly mistaken reviewer stated, are watching this film for scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you will not find any. Aside from a few stock horizon shots, the terrain in the movie is most definitely not that of the Blue Ridge or any other Appalachian Mountains. In fact, most of the outdoor shots bear a striking resemblance to those in the TV show "Bonanza."
However, Lindsay Wagner is grave and honorable and lovely, and she has a gorgeous horse. Jane Wyman is steely and smart and even gets the accent right most of the time. So it's not altogether a waste of time.
And in the essence of full-disclosure, I myself am a mountain girl!
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