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The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (2001)

TV Movie  -   -  Drama | Family | Western  -  18 February 2001 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 364 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 5 critic

The adventures of a family who head west to the California gold fields in the 1850s.

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(novel), (teleplay)
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Title: The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (TV Movie 2001)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Amos 'Rattlesnake Jake' Frogge (as Meat Loaf Aday)
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Andy Garrison ...
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Neblis Francois ...
Charles Grueber ...
Papa (as Charles Cruber)
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Storyline

When her widowed mother decides to move the family from New England to California during the Gold Rush, teenager California Morning Whipple is furious. She misses her New England home, even though her mother and younger siblings are happy in their new home and life. Not wanting anything to do with California, she renames herself Lucy. But over time "Lucy" begins to think of California as her home. Written by Rebecca <Rebecca191@aol.com>

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Genres:

Drama | Family | Western

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Details

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Release Date:

18 February 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

California Gold  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Early in the film, empty tin cans were shown littering the creekside, indicative of how the gold-rush miners littered the gold fields. But the cans depicted were modern tin cans, not the type of cans used in the mid-1800s when this story took place. Among other differences, the cans of that period would still have had their lids soldered on by hand, which means they couldn't be opened neatly like modern cans, making for a rough or jagged appearance to the lid when opened. The cans depicted were modern ones, with neatly opened lids as if done by a modern can opener. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Good research, a strong cast, and a story that just keeps moving made this the best two hours of my week.
20 February 2001 | by (Midland, Texas) – See all my reviews

Lucy's mother (Glenn Close) acts on her long-held dream of moving west from Massachusetts after the death of her husband. She brings her three children to a California mining town: a patch of buildings, tents, mud, and rough people on a hillside. Young people's author Karen Cushman, in her third book, provides a rich cast of characters for Lucy's (Jena Malone) learning experiences: traveling preacher Robert Pastorelli, Sheriff Wilford Brimley, Meat Loaf as a cowboy poet and even a cross-dressing prospector. In the months of spring and summer, Lucy encounters death, new friends in strange places, secrets, prejudice, and evil. Resolving a maze of adolescent conflicts with her mother, 13-year old Lucy gains maturity in spite of her frustrations, learns to trust herself, and struggles with a most difficult choice at the story's climax. She ably displays the roots of this kind of story, where we can see ourselves in failure, and as we wish we could be in success.

There is a direct wholesomeness about this story of the Old West that begs comparisons to `Little House on the Prairie' and `Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman.' It would be easy to be cynical about the simplistic and obvious moral values being preached. But good research, a strong cast, first class production values, and a story that just keeps moving made this the best two hours of my week. Malone still has the elfin charm of a child actor, but never falters in stealing the show from far more experienced actors. Fans of character actors Pastorelli and Brimley will not be disappointed, and Close masterfully portrays painful changes as she becomes increasingly disillusioned with her circumstances. Note that Close is co-executive producer (snagged the rights four years ago?) and author Cushman signed on as a producer (is that how an author can stay close to her work without having to do the screenplay?). I wish my kids were the right age to buy Cushman's award-winning books for. I may do it anyway, for myself.


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