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Sunday, June 1, 2008


Family values & family entertainment, circa Kennedy ‘New Frontier’ era, get a workout in this adaptation of the same novel that gave us tv’s THE WALTONS. With nods to LIFE WITH FATHER, HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY and THE CORN IS GREEN, megger/scripter Delmar Daves loses much of the book’s flavor & authenticity by moving it out West and updating to ‘63, as if all the post-WWII socio-economic changes hadn’t occurred. And casting Henry Fonda & Maureen O’Hara in parts better suited for, say Bob Mitchum & Patricia Neal, only masks the rawness needed to cut through all those life-affirming crises. Fonda & O’Hara are fine, of course, but hardscrabble they ain’t. The lead kids, James MacArthur & especially a teen horror called Mimsy Farmer, are a good deal less then fine. Sentimentalists my want to catch a peek just to see 83 year-old Donald Crisp ’s final bow after 50 years on screen.

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