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Stars in My Crown (1950)

In 1865, the small Southern town of Walsburg has become so dangerous, that Parson Josiah Doziah Gray gives his sermons while holding a gun.


Jacques Tourneur


Joe David Brown (novel), Joe David Brown (adaptation) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview:
Joel McCrea ... Josiah Doziah Gray
Ellen Drew ... Harriet Gray
Dean Stockwell ... John Kenyon
Alan Hale ... Jed Isbell
Lewis Stone ... Dr. Daniel Kalbert Harris, Sr.
James Mitchell ... Dr. Daniel Kalbert Harris, Jr.
Amanda Blake ... Faith Radmore Samuels
Juano Hernandez ... Uncle Famous Prill
Charles Kemper ... Prof. Sam Houston Jones
Connie Gilchrist ... Sarah Isbell
Ed Begley ... Lon Backett
Jack Lambert ... Perry Lokey
Arthur Hunnicutt ... Chloroform Wiggins
Marshall Thompson ... Narrator (voice)


Civil War veteran Josiah Grey comes to a small town to be a gospel minister. In time he has a family and many friends, but he also finds friction with a few of his parishioners. A young doctor grates at what he feels is the parson's interference in the scientific treatment of patients, and a mine owner resents Grey's protection of an old sharecropper whose small plot of land stands in the way of his continued mining. Grey must face a public health crisis and a lynch mob as a result, all seen and described through the eyes and memory of Grey's young nephew John. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Take your choice ... either I speak ... or my pistols do !


Drama | Family | Western


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Release Date:

1 September 1950 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Estrellas en mi corona See more »


Box Office


$1,175,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,962,000, 31 December 1950

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,146,000, 31 December 1950
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Cast includes a young James Arness and Amanda Blake. They appeared together for 20 seasons on the television series Gunsmoke (1955) as Matt Dillon and Kitty Russell. See more »


Josiah Doziah Gray: When you coming to church Jed?
Jed Isbell: Just as soon as you get God to plow that bottom land for me!
Sarah Isbell: Shame!
Josiah Doziah Gray: I'll see what I can do.
See more »


Ten Green Bottles
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User Reviews

The master of ambiguous Gothic horror does sentimental faith-restoring family drama and does it well!
21 July 2009 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

This, the second of director Jacques Tourneur's westerns after CANYON PASSAGE and one of several collaborations with actor Joel McCrea, finds him at least at first sight as far removed from the ambiguous psychological Gothic horror films he became famous through a couple years back for Val Lewton's RKO horror unit, yet once we scratch the surface, peel back the layers of faith-restoring sentimentality which lies at the film's core, we'll find this can be a pretty dark film.

Not only because the life of a small rural town in the post-Civil War South has to face a typhoid epidemic and Klan racism because the 'family' nature of the film ensures these are merely obstacles to be overcome, each of them a lesson learned in Christian love and brotherhood not only for the characters but also for the audience, but mostly because of the way Tourneur shoots the major set-pieces that revolve around them. Going back to what he learnt next to Val Lewton at RKO, Tourneur gives an otherwise saccharine film a dark underbelly, Klansmen pinning threatening notes on negros in front of burning crosses et al.

Yet STARS IN MY CROWN never feels like a film whose message and theme is beneath the director. Tourneur approaches the story in earnest. The truth is that it takes a while for things to get going. That the film is a bit too episodic and scattershot to really register until the final 15 minutes when parson Joel McCrea has to face off alone with a mob of Klansmen to save the life of a negro. That the small vignettes scattered throughout the film push the two major plots (smalltown biggotry and typhoid epidemic) a bit too far apart, the result making the first half a pretty meandering anemic affair. But the denouement, for all its saccharine 'everybody gets together to sing hymns in the church' quality, feels honest and I find it hard to fault such a film. Building something as emotionally earnest and unassuming as this is harder than tearing it down with cynicism.

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