"Raintree County," by Ross Lockridge Jr.

Raintree County was a thousand plus novel written by Ross Lockbridge Jr. published in 1948. At its time, it was regarded as the Great American Novel second only to Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind and in some ways, both Raintree County and Gone With The Wind are a bit alike, although everyone generally considers Gone With The Wind to be the superior work of historic fiction. And it is. Gone With The Wind, as we all know, became a highly successful film in 1939, even winning Best Picture. It must have dawned on Hollywood producers that the novel would make a breathtaking movie. It was the 50's, the new invention of television had just entered people's homes and the movie industry was threatened. It was the time of the "epic films" (The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur). In 1957, "Raintree County" was released in theatres. The appeal to the film was its Cival War Era drama and Elizabeth Taylor.
It's no Gone With The Wind, but Raintree County is a beautiful film to look at visually. The master shots of the scenic countryside in Raintree County are incredibly lovely, the costumes look authentic to the period, the music is enjoyable but subtle, and Elizabeth Taylor is always interesting to watch on film. Elizabeth Taylor plays Susanna Drake, a vibrant Southern belle with a troubled past (her plantation home caught on fire and she had issues with her mother). Although she seems to be almost a near replica of Scarlett O'Hara in many of the scenes, she lacks Scarlett O'Hara's strength and willful nature. While Scarlett could survive anything, Susanna Drake weakens out at the end of the film, becomes mentally disturbed (she has a strong attachment to a scary looking Chucky doll) and dies a pathetic death when she seeks out the Raintree. This is not Elizabeth's finest performance.
A tragic heroine is still acceptable, but this particular heroine is not as satisfying as Vivien Leigh's performance as Scarlett. Also, her "rival" and John Shawnessy's first love and childhood friend Nelle is an easily replaceable role. I was thinking she was the equivalent of Melanie Hamilton in Gone With The Wind and a role that could have been played by Olivia De Havilland once again. The women in this film are not portrayed as strongly as the men are. And even the men are not as substantial. It's just Yankee versus Rebels. The relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift's characters is not that well developed. It's not enough that they are from opposite sides of the Civil War conflict- she's at heart a Southerner and he's a Yankee. I was even disappointed in one scene in which Elizabeth says to Montgomery after an argument, "You hate me because I'm Southern!". This film could have used some polishing. I'm very certain that even author Ross Lockbridge Jr. was not entirely satisfied with what they did to his book in screenplay form.
Movie - Raintree County (2Dvd)
Movie - Raintree County (2Dvd)

NOTE: possible multilanguage edition
Montgomery Clift has done other worthwhile movies but in this film, his performance as John Shawnessy is wooden and lacks some substance. Although he is supposed to be portrayed as an idealist poet and writer (much like Doctor Zhivago), we never see him write anything. All we get is his desire to seek out the elusive and magic, all-healing legendary Raintree, supposedly planted by Johny Appleseed and a quest he gives up at the end of the film. Professor Jerusalem is a funny and amusing character but a bit too shallow. Again, this film is rather interesting to look at if you want to get some insight on Civil War Era America (1850's and 1860's) and the mention of such things as abolitionism, Uncle Tom's Cabin, copperheads, Abraham Lincoln, Fort Sumter and Gettysburg to the later Republican politics of the Reconstruction are very historically accurate.

This "Roadshow" version is beautiful to look at nevertheless. Out of curiosity for Civil War history, this would make a great film to watch as a history project in high school or college courses. This film is also worth watching if you're a hardcore fan of Elizabeth Taylor and don't care what role she plays or what movie she is in, whether it's "Little Women" "National Velvet", whehter she plays the tragic Susanna Drake, Cleopatra or the other Southern heroine in Tenesee William's "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" or the incredibly nasty character in "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf ?".

Note: Author of this Review is unknown.



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[New!] "Indiana Rangers: Ranger Airborne, 151st Infantry, D Co."
Supporting the honor and history of our troops, the Indiana Rangers served on behalf of State of Indiana and the entire United States in South Vietnam.


[New!] "The Parade of Planes"
A historical spectacle parade of sixty planes reviewed by the public.  If you like heavy equipment, you'll enjoy the show.  We captured footage of a fresh spectacle of history in New Carlisle, Ohio.  Sixty planes were reviewed by the public.  The agriculture industry is  represented in the event by farm tractors towing the aircraft.  American pride, ingenuity, and patriotism at its best!


[New!] Official Committee for the Preservation of Dreams:   Orville, Wilbur, & the First Flight
A documentary about Orville and Wilbur making their dreams into reality.  A Project in conjunction with Chuck Darling and New Venture Films. See the press release for more details.


[New!] "The Pest House"
A screenplay based on actual events, a project in conjunction with Chuck Darling and New Venture Films, centered around the terror and horror of a small pox epidemic and quarantine which isolated the small rural community of Knightstown, Indiana in the summer of 1902.  Two sequels are in development.


[New!] "Bobcats & Eagles"
A movie about two competing high schools in a regional match. More...


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