The wide-open spaces of the Midwest provide the backdrop for this Ladd outing which combines the heat of romance with violence en route from Texas to Canada. Ladd pours money into organizing a wheat harvesting combine crew but runs into a financial crisis and must avoid being bought out
by his rival, Wright. The fun-loving Preston enters the scene and agrees to front Ladd the necessary money. With Nolan and Erdman as the two chief assistants, Ladd's crew begins to make its way through the wheat fields. Along the way, in Kansas City, Ladd makes the acquaintance of farm girl
Lamour. Ladd isn't nearly as interested in her as she is in him and shuns her advances, although she continues her pursuit. To stay in Ladd's company, Lamour manages to con Preston into marriage. While the tension increases between Ladd and Wright, Preston spends more and more time with Lamour,
succumbing to her desire for gifts. In order to feed her expensive tastes, Preston starts skimming money from the wheat sales. When Ladd discovers the scheme, their friendship explodes into a two-fisted battle. Ladd and Preston eventually mend their differences and return the money to the farmers.
Disgusted with Lamour's manipulative ways, Ladd and Preston leave her behind as they set off again with the combine. Garnett's follow-up to THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, WILD HARVEST (which had the prerelease title THE BIG HAIRCUT) never quite achieves the level of passion that seeped from the
pages of the James M. Cain original, but it does manage to show off three fine lead talents and a horde of commendable supporting names. The reuniting of Preston and Ladd for the first time since THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942) brought the film a certain chemistry to which Lamour adds fire. The closeness
of the characters in the film comes perhaps not from the script but from the shooting conditions. During filming (December 1946), the Studio Painters and Carpenters Union staged a walkout, forcing the film crew to remain on the set at all hours to avoid crossing the picket lines. Each day's
shooting was capped by an evening of partying and drinking. On one such evening, Ladd noticed a rather large, uninvited guest bullying people at the bar. Garnett, in his autobiography, recounts his conversation with Ladd. "I told him, `That big mug is bad trouble and nobody has a line on him."'
Ladd toughly responded, "I know who he is. He's the big bastard who's leaving as of now." Ladd, who was only 5 feet 5 inches tall--to appear taller onscreen, he often would stand on wooden planks outside of the camera's view--was considerably shorter than the man. Ladd bravely approached him only
to be greeted with the insult, "Hi, Shorty." Without backing off, Ladd told the man, "You weren't invited to this party." As the man prepared to pound Ladd into the pavement, Ladd turned to the crew and shouted, "Get my planks." Everyone burst into laughter except the man, who was shown to the
door before he could attack Ladd.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The wide-open spaces of the Midwest provide the backdrop for this Ladd outing which combines the heat of romance with violence en route from Texas to Canada. Ladd pours money into organizing a wheat harvesting combine crew but runs into a financial crisis… (more)