Sam Tucker, a cotton picker, in search of a better future for his family, decides to grow his own cotton crop. In the first year, the Tuckers battle disease, a flood, and a jealous neighbor. Can they make it as farmers?
Running Time: 92 Minutes
MPAA Ratings: Passed
A slice of the farming life and the hardships that lie therein from director Jean Renoir, who earned his only Academy Award nomination for his effort;he also wrote the screenplay from a Hugo Butler (Edison, The Man (1940)) adaptation of George Sessions Perry's novel Hold Autumn in Your Hand. This slightly above average drama also received Oscar nominations for Werner Janssen's Score and Jack Whitney's Sound, Recording. Though the story lacks the edge and grittiness of director John Ford's essential film version on John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath (1940), the images do give it a similar feel.
Zachary Scott plays Sam Tucker, a hard working laborer that's ready to try and go it alone as a cotton sharecropper on some abandoned land owned by his employer Ruston (Paul Harvey). Betty Field plays his equally tough, dependable, and supportive wife Nona. The Tuckers have two small children (Jay Gilpin and Jean Vanderwilt), and his disagreeable crotchety old Granny, played by Beulah Bondi, reluctantly goes along (because she has no choice!), complaining all the way. The family faces various setbacks and challenges, from a dilapidated shack that will have to serve as their home, an ornery neighbor named Devers (J. Carrol Naish) and his hired hand Finlay (Norman Lloyd), to their son's sickness and bad weather. But they survive it all and hang together because of their love for one another, honest efforts, and help from Sam's oldest friend, a city bachelor named Tim (Charles Kemper). Percy Kilbride plays a friendly local merchant who later falls in love and marries Sam's mother (Blanche Yurka), who'd come to help with the Tucker children. Estelle Taylor plays Lizzie, Noreen Nash is the more neighborly Becky Devers, Jack Norworth plays Dr. White, and Nestor Paiva is a bartender who gets in a skirmish when he tries to cheat Tim. Sam's Uncle Pete (Paul Burns) provided the Tuckers with some assistance.
I saw this film on a Saturday morning and loved it. It's about a man, his wife, their two children and the grouchy grandma, who are dirt poor (and I mean that literally) farmers. It's based on the book by George Sessions Perry called "Hold Autumn in Your Hand," but the movie and the book are completely different in style and manner. I personally like the movie more, as it showed the family's togetherness much better than the book. A wonderful Renoir film (I think my favourite of all his) and definitely a must see. The courage of the family is really touching. I gave it a...10/10.
An odd, Grapes of Wrath sort of Depression feeling film. But filmed by Jean Renoir post WW2. Some of the shots and situations are deeply affecting and beautiful. But then there's the dreadful, cartoonish performance by Beulah Bondi. And then there are the wonderful performances by Zachary Scott, whom I had never valued before, and Betty Field. Historically interesting and certainly worth the time. Very Americana. (S Scanlon, NY, NY)
J. Carrol Field
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