Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tonight's Movie: The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947)

I just watched this post-Civil War film for the first time. This is a somewhat unusual film for MGM -- a very rustic picture about struggling farmers also dealing with lingering post-war animosity in their community. Janet Leigh made her film debut as the poor but pretty girl who charms Van Johnson, a mysterious teacher "passing through" after fighting in the war, who insists on helping her family with the harvest.

I thought this movie was really special and surprisingly overlooked over the years; I had heard very little about it other than being Leigh's first film. (Leonard Maltin does give it three stars in his CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE, noting the movie's "fascinating script.") In tone, look, and themes ROSY RIDGE reminded me of other films of its era to which I'm partial, such as ANGEL AND THE BADMAN, RACHEL AND THE STRANGER, and even a touch of John Ford's WAGON MASTER or MY DARLING CLEMENTINE. Like ANGEL AND THE BADMAN and RACHEL AND THE STRANGER, the action is propelled by the arrival of a stranger; most of these films also have the theme, to one degree or another, of a search for peace. Music and dancing also play an important role in several of these movies.

The excellent supporting cast included Thomas Mitchell, Dean Stockwell, and Selena Royle; the film was directed by Roy Rowland, who also directed the fine OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES.

Janet Leigh wrote movingly of the dreamlike experience of being cast and making her first movie in her autobiography, THERE REALLY WAS A HOLLYWOOD.

THE ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE is part of the Turner Classic Movies library. It does not appear to be currently available on video or DVD. (The MacKinlay Kantor novel it was based on is available via Amazon vendors.)

Highly recommended.

Update: This film is now available in a remastered edition from the Warner Archive.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older