A remarkably naturalistic portrayal of one family's struggle to start a farm in the South.
With the coming of autumn, Scott decides to work his own land. Though its appearance is off-putting, the land is workable. Scott comes into conflict with his neighbor Naish, an embittered man who cannot appreciate the success of his hard work without thinking about how it caused the deaths of his
wife and child. When his crops cause him trouble and his boy becomes seriously ill, Scott appeals to Naish for much-needed milk; he is turned down cold. Kemper, a friend of Scott's from the city who has offered the farmer a factory job, does all he can to help by buying the family a cow, thereby
saving the boy's life. In the meantime, Scott's rivalry with Naish grows stronger when Naish's livestock are found in Scott's vegetable garden. Scott goes angrily to Naish's farm and a brawl begins between them, with Naish finally being thrown into the pig pen.
THE SOUTHERNER, Renoir's most critically respected American film, is a superb depiction, in spirit if not in historical authenticity, of the plight of the farmer. As with such great pictures as OUR DAILY BREAD, THE GRAPES OF WRATH and the brilliant government documentaries of Pare Lorentz to which
THE SOUTHERNER is most similar (PLOW THAT BROKE THE PLAINS and THE RIVER), this picture makes characters of the land, the cotton, the plow, and the water, granting them the same importance as the actors. With the original Hugo Butler script (he later dropped out of the production, in reverence to
Renoir who, Butler felt, could rewrite the script however he pleased) of the Perry novel Hold Autumn in Your Hand, Renoir and his producers, Loew and Hakim, were able to convince Hollywood to make their film. Nunnally Johnson and William Faulkner did uncredited work on the script.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A remarkably naturalistic portrayal of one family's struggle to start a farm in the South. With the coming of autumn, Scott decides to work his own land. Though its appearance is off-putting, the land is workable. Scott comes into conflict with his neighb… (more)