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Returning from the War, Noah Lark discovers his family is gone. With a passion for fishing, Noah travels to a new town in search of a legendary great bass that has yet to be caught. On his journey he learns that with great friendship and great faith he will always be happy.
Noah Locke has served in Europe during World War II, earning a Purple Heart. Still, he comes home to find that the farm he lived on belongs to someone else, and his brother Travis is in prison (though he says all he did was drive the car). Travis was told he could go to his mother's funeral but he couldn't do go through with that if he had to be chained, feeling it would bring shame to his family. The brothers have also lost their father.
As he explains later, Noah travels from place to place across the South, camping out and fishing in various rivers. While fishing, he meets an old man named Hoke with a special gift, who tells him about this wonderful community in a nearby valley, where there is a legendary fish no one can catch.
Noah follows Hoke's advice. Taylor runs the store in the town, and it is there that Noah befriends Matthew, who never speaks. Matthew's mother is deceased and his father may be working somewhere in Tennessee. His grandparents Howard and Ada, who invite Noah to their church, are raising Matthew.
Also at Taylor's store, Noah meets Eleanor, who gives Noah some work to do and a place to live. Eleanor's late husband fought in the war, and now she is trying to run a farm on her own while taking care of her elderly grandmother Beatrice, known as Granny.
Noah makes a living partly from fishing, and Taylor also gets him to do work at his store Moody and Peavo won't. Moody and Peavo are lazy and just want to talk and otherwise have fun. They are the movie's primary comic relief.
Noah has a positive influence on this community, particularly on Matthew and Eleanor. The big question: will he win the big fishing contest, which attracts many outsiders? Will Noah catch that fish no one else can? And will Noah and Eleanor become a couple?
There's not really anything here for parents to be concerned about. Noah has memories of the war, but these are not a big problem. The reality of the war has caused some sadness, though. And there is a tragedy by movie's end which could be upsetting to children, though it brings out the best in several of the actors. But strong family values are presented here. Noah always says, "Yes, sir" and "Yes, ma'am", for example. And he believes in hard work, as do most of the people in town. I've mentioned the exceptions.
The acting is very good here. Zach Mills is particularly impressive because he can give a great performance without saying a word, and he makes us care about Matthew.
It was worthy of the name Hallmark Hall of Fame.
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