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Selina lived well until her father Simeon died. Her aunts sold the estate and put her in a boarding school. As an adult she wants to be a teacher in farming country. She falls in love with and marries Pervus, a Dutch farmer she has been tutoring. When he dies her hopes lie with their son Dirk, who disappoints her by giving up architecture for stock brokerage. Her new hope is Roelfe, the son of her former boardinghouse keeper and a sculptor. Dirk falls in love with Dallas O'Mara, whom Selina hopes will be the inspiration for her son's salvation.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
I've always been of the opinion that you cannot make a bad movie from an Edna Ferber novel. Her stories wherever they be set have characters that are larger than life in settings the same. Texas, Alaska, the Mississipi River, Oklahoma her stuff practically writes itself for the screen.
In So Big we have the story of Selina Peake DeJong who goes west as a schoolteacher in a Scandanavian farming community. It's a place for people who work hard with little frivolity in their lives. Education is a luxury, the work on the farm comes first.
Barbara Stanwyck in her first lead in an A budget film, on loan out from Columbia to Warner Brothers plays Selina. It's a challenging role requiring Stanwyck to age 40 years. She marries farmer Earl Foxe and she has a son who eventually grows up to be Hardie Albright. Albright is trained as an architect, but decides to go into a bond selling firm at the entreaties of Mae Madison, wife of the firm's head who has other interests in Albright.
Stanwyck has as much interest in the land as Scarlett O'Hara does in Gone With The Wind. She wants to impart that to Albright and fears she has not.
Bette Davis and George Brent are both in the cast of So Big. It's their first film together. Brent plays the grown son of Alan Hale a neighboring farmer who Stanwyck boarded with when she first arrives and whom she encouraged to take education seriously and pursue his dreams. Davis has a role as an artist that Albright engages for an advertising campaign for his bonds.
In a recent biography of Barbara Stanwyck there was friction on the set as Stanwyck took note of Davis trying to upstage the cast. Bette wanted the lead role herself and probably would have done a good job. It's similar in many ways to what she did in The Corn Is Green. But there was no Davis-Stanwyck feud as their would be with Miriam Hopkins and Joan Crawford. Simply because Davis just didn't have star prerogatives yet.
There was another version of So Big made in the 50s with Jane Wyman in the lead and a silent version that starred Colleen Moore. But you watch So Big and you will be a big Edna Ferber fan immediately.
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