Sam Tucker, a cotton picker, in search of a better future for his family, decides to grow his own cotton crop. In the first year, the Tuckers battle disease, a flood, and a jealous neighbor. Can they make it as farmers?Written by
George S. Davis
Life in Renoir films is always one damned thing - or one absorbing incident - after another, which is why the ideal Renoir film (a) sticks to the one subject, or the one place ("Grand Illusion" WOULD be as great as everyone says it is, if only it didn't wander about so), and (b) doesn't even purport to have a plot. (Not that the second requirement matters so much as the first.) In any case, the material Renoir had here suited him down to the ground. The fact that the central character is tied to the land, the fact that he has a clear goal (to survive by means of farming) without having any particular quest, allows Renoir to let whatever will happen, happen, without there being any danger of the film falling apart.
A delightfully warm film, but one with a real bite. It carries a real charge when the established farmer, after treating the newcomer with such unjustified coldness you start to feel he must be positively evil, begins to reveal his humanity and open up a little - only to describe, in detail, why he's so bitter - and determined to remain bitter. But this is just one perfectly realised scene among many. There's so MUCH to this film, not one segment of which could profitably be lost - except, of course, the minute-long spoken prologue, which contributes about as much to the overall effect as Cecil B. DeMille's anti-communist rant contributes to "The Ten Commandments". But ignore that last nit-pick.
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