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Grandma Moses (1950)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Credited cast:
Grandma Moses ... Herself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Archibald Macleish ... Narrator
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Short

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23 October 1950 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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Lovely Film, Lovely Lady
28 January 2014 | by See all my reviews

GRANDMA MOSES is a 22 minute color film from 1950 on the legendary primitive artist who became an American phenomenon in the 1940's in her eighties and was amazingly famous for the rest of her life with the general public (she made it past 100 and lived into the early 1960's). Obviously shot on silent 16mm film, the movie has a quite appropriately charming original score by the famed composer Hugh Martin (Meet Me in St. Louis) heard throughout the film. Most of the film is narrated but we only hear Grandma's voice in a fairly brief scene in a voice-over as family photos are shown on screen in a segment in which she is showing the family picture album to a endearing trio of preschoolers who are right out of a vintage children's book. The film opens with several scenes of a ninetyish Grandma shown in her every day routines, doing chores on the farm, visiting with friends (at a "gossip fence" no less!), and the like, then some wonderful panoramic shots of rural New York where Grandma was born and raised. The segment with Grandma and the children follows and leads into the lengthiest segment of the film, scanning views of Grandma's art.

There isn't that much footage out there of Grandma (she was on television a few times in the 1950's) so this film is to be cherished, particularly for it being in color. One may regret so much footage is devoted to showing her artwork but one must remember back in 1950 there were no lavish, full color books of her art and probably the general public saw it, if anywhere, on the greeting cards and other ephemera that reproduced her work or the occasional magazine article with often B&W photographs. Still, there must be plenty of unused footage of Grandma taken for this film (there is quite a variety of different footage, even in different seasons here), one hopes it is preserved somewhere. It is curious though why Grandma's voice is used so sparingly here, she was quite a capable and interesting interviewee as can be heard on the excellent 1956 radio program BIOGRAPHIES IN SOUND available at archive.org.

You can currently view this film on youtube and the Folkstreams website.


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