Friday, July 06, 2012


This rather mild romantic drama tries to trade on the aura of Douglas Sirk's glossy melodramas of the 50's such as MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION and ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (which, with its plotline about class conflict, this does resemble a bit). Susan Hayward lives on a farm in the woods in Saskatchewan with her husband and young son. When her husband dies in a forest fire, she struggles to keep the farm going. A young and hunky guy (Stephen Boyd) who knew her husband ambles on by, offers to help, and winds up staying as a handyman.  He's rather moody and temperamental; it turns out his wife died in a fire as well. During a snowstorm, Hayward's horse bolts while she and her son are returning home and the two of them collapse in the snow. Boyd heroically heads out in the storm to save them and soon he and Hayward fall in love. They marry and, though the boy (Dennis Holmes) is jealous of Boyd at first, they seem to be bonding until they run across a deer that had been mauled by a mountain lion. Boyd shoots it to put it out of its pain and tries to make the boy help him skin it, but Holmes becomes so upset, he faints. Boyd is determined to make a man out of him, and of course his efforts just alienate Holmes, and soon Hayward as well. Things deteriorate; Boyd slaps her and rapes her, tries to apologize the next day, and gets into a brawl in town. Hayward winds up pregnant and, during the event-filled climax, has a miscarriage during a torrential rainstorm, and winds up in the hospital while her son goes missing and Boyd tries to find him. Believe it or not, everything works out in the end. It feels like everybody, from the scriptwriter to the stars, was working on half-energy here. It’s a watchable movie but it's very predictable and never compelling.  Boyd and Hayward are fine, though Boyd's character becomes a real pain in the ass by the end, even though we know eventually he'll redeem himself (as will the boy). Also with Barbara Nichols as a hot blond who has an eye for Boyd, and Theodore Bikel as the town doc. Early on, there's a shot of a quicksand bog, so we know that will be important in the third act somehow. [FMC]

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