Driftwood (1947) Poster


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Surprisingly sweet "B" feature from Republic is a delightful sleeper!
mark.waltz24 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Not since Margaret O'Brien buried her dolls and smashed her family of snow people in "Meet Me in St. Louis" has there been such a delightfully eccentric child as Natalie Wood in "Driftwood". Outrageosly honest, Wood is getting over the death of her great grandfather (H.B. Warner in a heartbreaking cameo), and is discovered on the road by research doctor Dean Jagger who is researching a cure for spotted fever caused by ticks. Having found a dog after witnessing a horrendous plane crash, Wood is slightly in shock, and obviously in need of a place to stay. Jagger takes Wood home with him, which he shares with pharmacist Walter Brennan. Wood's brutal honesty makes adults like Brennan and town spinster Charlotte Greenwood question Jagger's taking care of her, but Jagger's lady friend (Ruth Warrick) likes Wood's spunk. When the dog protects Wood from the town bully, the pooch is put on trial, and the town takes up sides against the dog and the town's power-thumping mayor (Jerome Cowan), the father of the nasty youth. Then, an outbreak of spotted fever hits, and Jagger must find a cure before its too late.

This is quite a unique film for its day, and Wood is quite good as the young heroine. The cast features some of the best character performers of its day, and its nice to see two "Aunt Ellers" ("Oklahoma!") on screen together-Ms. Greenwood (of the movie) and Margaret Hamilton (of a 1960's Lincoln Center revival). Ms. Hamilton is very amusing in her role of Brennan's clerk at the pharmacy, and "Wizard of Oz" viewers will find it ironic that she appears as a witness in the dog's defense after taking away Toto from Dorothy in the 1939 classic. Ruth Warrick, so missed as the imperious Phoebe during the last 6 years of "All My Children", plays a sweet character here, while Brennan, Greenwood and Hobart Cavanaugh add small town charm to their grouchy characters with a heart of gold. This is the perfect movie to play for adolescents to teach them both the power of honesty and the art of diplomacy and tact.
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Alan Dwan at His Talkie Peak
boblipton9 February 2018
When preacher H.B. Warner drops dead during a sermon, reducing the town's population to his great-grand-daughter Natalie Wood, she follows his instructions and heads out to Sodom and Gomorrah, almost getting hit by a crashing plane, being eaten by a wildcat, and rescuing a collie. They are rescued by Dean Jagger, a country doctor, who's living with his foster father, druggist Walter Brennan a small but corrupt town run by Jerome Cowan.

The story roams hither and yonder, involving Rocky Mountain fever, rotten kids, and a story line with plenty of laughs that eventually veers into a serious plot, a lecture on the necessity of getting your children vaccinated, and an over-the-top coincidence that saves the day at the end. It's carried by Dwan's impeccable direction, John Alton's flawless camerawork, and a cast of professionals that includes Ruth Warrick, Charlotte Greenwood, Margaret Hamilton, Hobart Cavanaugh, Alan Napier, Francis Ford.... well, Dwan had worked with everyone and could get them to come in. Lots of fun, and the dog was cute too.
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One of my daughters' all-time favourite films!
john-wmartin24 December 2007
I must have sat through this film at least twenty times, and cannot say that I was bored on any of them. My girls insisted I record it from them (on VHS) when it was on about 25 years ago, and then proceeded to watch it every Saturday morning for the next 6 months. It may be rather twee nd cute, but even now "daisy's ... they're my favourite flower" still evokes a smile from them and from my wife Predictable, happy ending - but then what else do you want from a children's film? Natalie Wood performs very ably, and the other main characters are highly satisfactory, including the lady who played the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. Highly recommended for those with small girls, and I wish they would issue it on DVD
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Didn't expect to watch the entire movie. - but it pulls you I
huttonjack11 May 2015
Remarkable how talented a child actor Natalie Wood was. Saw this on Amazon Prime- clicked it like playing 'movie roulette' - the initial fire & brimstone deserted decayed church scene is so strange but then , yeah,it's cheesy, And sweet but you wind up liking these people and rooting for them: it's got 'Lassie' 'the wicked witch Walter Brennan , etc many character actors of that time '. It has the happy ending you know is coming and, which in these days of superior cynicism, is oddly satisfying: they're happy. Good wins.

Viewing this from 2015 it's an amazing & sweet time capsule I got pulled in and wound up watching the entire thing.
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Forgotten second-feature from Republic Pictures...
moonspinner553 December 2005
Fine cast races through second-string drama about an orphaned girl from Bull Frog Springs, Nevada whose Collie dog may hold the answer to an outbreak of Spotted Fever that threatens a homey town. Begins well, with Natalie Wood (spunky with a solemn little face) just fine as the Bible-quoting youngster, but the plot gets all balled-up, spending too much time on the buffoonish town dolts (like a foolish mayor and his bratty son, whose complaints about a dog bite brings the entire town into the courtroom). The subplot about the disease is agonizing, yet not nearly as bad as a second one involving two unmarried women hoping for husbands. The movie rushes along at a fast clip, but it's not very inspiring, original or inventive. ** from ****
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It has the germ of a good plot, but the film really needed a re-write.
MartinHafer3 January 2013
In general, "Driftwood" is an agreeable family film. However, at times, the dialog is really quite stupid and could have improved from a re-write.

The film begins in a virtual ghost town that is occupied by an insane old preacher who spends all his time preaching to his granddaughter (Natalie Wood). Soon, the old guy dies and the kid wanders into to desert where she witnesses a plan crash and adopts a dog that survived the crash. Soon, a nice doctor (Dean Jagger) finds this VERY precocious kid and brings her home. But, things don't go very smoothly (just see the film and you'll know what I mean) and it all culminates with an outbreak of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

My biggest problem was the bizarre dialog spoken by Natalie Wood. She talks like an adult religion professor--which just seems gimmicky and weird--and VERY heavy-handed. It also didn't help that he script was, at times, very saccharine. It's a shame, as the film had many good moments as well as good performances by Jagger and Walter Brennan. Not terrible but rather flawed. And, I should mention that the film features Wood saying 'Beelzebub' (an Old Testament word for Satan) about 9000 times. Again, no child talks like that!

By the way, early in the film you'll see a delivery boy. Look closely, it's Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer of the Our Gang fame.
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Corny Drama
kenjha7 August 2011
A little girl is not having a good day: her grand-pappy (her only relative) dies and then a plane crashes in her yard. The story is corny and the plot meanders somewhat, with the focus shifting from the plight of the little girl to small town politics to a spotted fever outbreak. In the same year she appeared in "Miracle on 34th Street," Wood here plays the youngster who quotes Bible verses. She is taken into the home of Brennan and Jagger (it's not clear why these two middle-aged men are living together). Warrick, who made her film debut in "Citizen Kane," and whose career went downhill from there, here plays the love interest of Jagger.
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