Widowed Old Man Matthews, who has lived his entire life as a farmer, has moved his family of himself and his four young adult to adolescent offspring - Deborah, Phineas, Abigail and Susan -...
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Widowed Old Man Matthews, who has lived his entire life as a farmer, has moved his family of himself and his four young adult to adolescent offspring - Deborah, Phineas, Abigail and Susan - to a just purchased farm in Millwood, following the ecological demise of their last farm on which he was able to collect insurance. He has a "my way or the high way" mentality about most things in life, most specifically about running a farm, he believing his experience trumping everything else. He, however, likes to portray himself as being fair and democratic, all important family matters which are decided on by a family vote. He has these votes as he and the other family members know that Abby and Phin will always vote with him, the former to retain his favor and the latter out of fear regardless of Phin's true thoughts as their father always convinces out of coercion. Such ideas against his include Debbie believing the farm too expensive for the many deficiencies it has, and Susie wanting a few...Written by
Beautifully made, but emotionally puzzling and somewhat aloof...
William D. Russell directs this rather unusual screenplay about a widower farmer and his four children of various ages, who live under their pig-headed father's thumb. Pretending to have a democracy in his family, the farmer--who always gets the last word--doesn't see that his stubborn ways of operating a home and a farm are not always the right ways, and he often comes close to alienating his children with his rigidly unsentimental attitude. Upon moving into their newest ranch house, eldest daughter Marguerite Chapman is wooed by the handsome, eligible local agriculturalist, yet she acts frigid and suspicious of men; we are to assume this is the way her papa raised her, but possibility a more vulnerable approach might have drawn us closer to the character. Natalie Wood is the talkative youngest child, and she pulls off some very difficult key sequences in the film with charm and poise (being voted down by her father when she desires buying two lambs, going to the bank and asking for a loan, and diligently taking her oath after being invited into the 4-H Club). The picture isn't a total success...and for a while there, I wasn't sure what Walter Brennan was trying for as the patriarch; at times he's so stern, he's almost villainous. However, the locations and silvery cinematography are perfect, and there's a dandy of a thunderstorm in which little Natalie finds herself caught. A genuine oddity from RKO, and worthwhile despite its flaws. **1/2 from ****
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