Tuesday, July 3, 2018

THE THIRD ANNUAL OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND BLOGATHON: Linnett Moore in The Proud Rebel (1958)


Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood are once again hosting their blogathon tribute to Olivia de Havilland. Click HERE or HERE for the contributions to this online event.

Samuel Goldwyn Jr. had the rights to James Edward Grant's 1947 short story Journal of Linnett Moore since 1950, but it took almost the entire decade before the funding and personnel came together to produce the Golden Globe winning picture as The Proud Rebel starring Olivia de Havilland as Linnett Moore. The screenplay is by Joseph Petracca (The Proud Ones) and Lillie Hayward (The Biscuit Eater).

The town records of Aberdeen, Illinois would show that Miss Moore resides alone on the family farm outside of the town, having lost her father and brother during the preceding Civil War. Linnett was the subject of much gossip even before the stranger and his son played by Alan Ladd and David Ladd came to town, and started working for her.

Olivia de Havilland, Eli Mintz, Mary Wickes

Mrs. Ainsley (Mary Wickes): "Why, Linnett, it's been ages. Nobody ever sees you anymore. Why, just the other day at the Union League Social everybody was talking about you and nobody knew what to say. What have you been doing with yourself out on that farm?"

An ambitious sheepherder named Harry Burleigh played by Dean Jagger, and his sons Jeb and Tom played by Harry Dean Stanton and Tom Pittman are troublemakers who like throwing their weight around. Their current target is Linnett Moore and her farm which, according to the Burleighs, is standing in the way of their expansion.

David Ladd, Alan Ladd

Johnny Chandler and his son David are traveling the country looking for a doctor to cure David's hysterical mutism. The trauma of the violent death of his mother while his father was away fighting caused David's condition. The family's sheepdog Lance has been David's only emotional support. The Burleighs covet the dog and turn their bullying on the Chandlers. Johnny takes a beating at their hands and when taken before a judge lack of witnesses causes him to be found guilty in the altercation. Unable to pay a fine and certainly unwilling to leave David, Johnny is placed in the custody of Linnett Moore to work out his fine on her farm.

We learn something of Linnett, how she sees herself and her place in the community in her conversation with Judge Morley played by Henry Hull during their transaction following the trial. Linnett is as broke as the convicted man. She simply couldn't see that poor boy separated from his father.

Olivia de Havilland, Henry Hull

Judge Morley: "Oh, that farm of yours. You'd be a darn sight better off if you got rid of that place and moved into town."
Linnett: "And do what, be a clerk or a waitress or an overworked hired girl? No. I'll stay with the farm."
Judge Morley: "Linnett, you're still a mighty handsome woman."
Linnett: "I won't stay young forever."
Judge Morley: "This is no laughing matter, people are beginning to talk about you and they ain't gonna quit talking until you're respectably married."
Linnett: "People. Don't tell me about people. What am I supposed to do, fly right into the arms of the first man to offer me lawful marriage just to please them? Poor Linnett Moore, all alone on that big farm. As if it were a crime to live alone because I'm a woman and not a man. I'm not a man-starved old maid, Judge Morley."

Young David takes to life on Linnett's farm as if he were born to it. It is the first home he has known for a long time.

Linnett (to Johnny): "He's busy. He feels useful. It's strange but when you're around him you never think about his being - the way he is."


Olivia de Havilland, Alan Ladd

Johnny has those same feelings about the farm and about getting to know Linnett, but he is driven to find a cure for his son. Aberdeen's Quaker doctor played by Cecil Kellaway works to connect the Chandlers with a colleague in Minnesota who has helped patients such as David. Johnny is both hopeful and desperate to make that trip. When the question of the medical treatment becomes a reality the question of money becomes a reality as well. Three hundred dollars is needed and the only way to get it is to sell the beloved Lance to a breeder played by James Westerfield.

King as the beloved Lance

Linnett: "Suppose he never speaks. You've got to be prepared for it. You can't sell the dog. Not on a 50/50 chance. You know how I feel about David. I'd give anything to hear him speak. That's why I'm telling you these things. I'm only thinking of what's good for him."

Johnny cannot be swayed, and will only stop his quest "When the boy speaks." More trouble comes to the little group when the Burleighs burn down Linnett's farm. Faced with a choice, Johnny offers to stay and rebuild. Despite himself, he is putting down roots.

A trip to town brings Linnett's only fine dress out of the trunk. She is very pleased when David signs that she is beautiful and that phrase is interpreted by Johnny. She can't help making a little feminine fuss over her lack of fashion.

David Ladd, Olivia de Havilland

Linnett: "My bonnet is hopelessly out of date. Hats can never stay in style but my father always said that a woman without a hat is only half dressed."

A step forward in the blossoming relationship between Johnny and Linnett occurs at the General Store when Johnny calls her "Linnett".

Linnett: "You never called me that before. As a matter of fact, I was getting tired of all that ma'am talk. Made me sound ten years older than I am and no gentleman would do that."

It is a charming moment in which to see a character who, up until now, has been all gruff and businesslike in her dealings with peers, though a beacon of gentleness to young David. Trouble during the trip to town leaves no doubt that the trip to Minnesota must be made for David's sake, but with one important difference.

Johnny: "Linnett. About the operation. I was wondering if it wouldn't be better for you to go to Minnesota. I just think he'd feel better with you and, I might never come back, but you will. Besides, I need to get the barn up and there's the harvesting, and you never know what the Burleighs are going to do. Will you, Linnett?"
Linnett:  "If that's the way you want it."


David Ladd, Olivia de Havilland, Alan Ladd

There could be no greater sign of the bond which has grown between these characters. The commitment between them is unspoken, but the trust is implicit. The strength of the unit will be tested when the operation on David is not successful and the loss of Lance is unbearable for both the boy and the dog.

The Burleighs make one last play to eliminate their enemies. The trauma of the violence with the Burleighs and danger to Johnny works a final psychological healing on David. Linnett Moore gets her family and the Chandlers find theirs in her.

Alan Ladd, David Ladd, King, Olivia de Havilland

The Proud Rebel would be the last of ten films which teamed Olivia de Havilland with director Michael Curtiz. Their first collaboration was 1935s Captain Blood when Olivia was 19 years old. Olivia was 42 years old at the time of this film's production. So much of her film career was behind her at this point.

Ted McCord is the brilliant cinematographer who makes The Proud Rebel so beautiful. It would be his final of nine films made with Curtiz. Oddly enough, despite their years at Warner Brothers, this was the only film in which McCord would film de Havilland. Also adding to the emotion of the film is Jerome Moross' sweeping score which echoes that of The Big Country released the same year.

Olivia de Havilland
Dodge City

I can see Linnett Moore as a full circle counterpart to an earlier western hero also directed by Curtiz, Abbie Irving of Dodge City. A younger woman, but still with pride and strength, and a strong stubborn streak that is both a hindrance and useful. Linnett Moore is a character and a performance that I enjoy and admire. I hope Ms. de Havilland, if she thinks of The Proud Rebel, can say the same.















22 comments:

  1. This is a film I've been wanting to see for a while. Your review further cemented that desire. Next time I get a chance, I will be watching The Proud Rebel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I first saw it as a child and it really holds up beautifully with lovely layers. As my husband often says, "Curtiz doesn't know how not to entertain."

      Delete
  2. Though I'm an Olivia fan somehow I've always missed this one. It sounds like a beautiful love story. I'll definitively seek it out now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the title, and coming relatively late in the careers of all involved (except for David Ladd!), let's it slip by unnoticed. Personally, I have found that it improves with age.

      Delete
  3. I enjoyed this post! I actually hadn't realized de Havilland played another role in a western later in her career. I'll have to look this one up :-).

    Tam May
    The Dream Book Blog
    https://thedreambookblog.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is fun to discover something unexpected in an old favourite's filmography, isn't it?

      Delete
  4. Paddy Lee, I remember first seeing THE PROUD REBEL on television, when I was a youngster. I liked it then and I like it better today. The chemistry between Olivia de Havilland, Alan Ladd, and his son David Ladd made this the top notch family movie that it is. First time viewers be prepared for the pulling of heart strings. This is a really good movie worth watching.

    Happy 102nd Birthday to the one and only Olivia de Havilland.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Olivia is a formidable woman and a lovely actress who brought us so many interesting characters.

      I like how you described your journey with The Proud Rebel and how it found a lasting place in your heart.

      Delete
  5. Linnett Moore is such a strong character. I really enjoyed watching this movie, and I look forward to a rewatch! I liked reading this post, and you put the quotes in the perfect places!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I find the dialogue more interesting and intriguing the more I watch this very watchable movie.

      Delete
  6. Paddy Lee aka Caftan Woman, HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy 4th of July to you from a friendly northern neighbour. A day for celebration, reflection and resolve.

      Delete
  7. I sent you a comment via twitter message a little bit ago but was just now able to sign back on the comments while on someone else’s blog!! I will have to be extra careful to not hit the sign out button when commenting!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gee technology is great ... when it works!

      Delete
  8. Paddy Lee aka Caftan Woman, a belated HAPPY CANADA DAY! From a friendly southern neighbor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate the good wishes. Happy times!

      Delete
  9. You always have a way of writing about the best movies I never heard of! This sounds like a real winner. I love movies like this. It seems like it would have the charm of "Rachel and the Stranger", "The Romance of Rosy Ridge", and I don't know why it reminds me of this title but "So Dear to My Heart", all rolled into one. Thanks for putting me on the scent of a film I was missing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure.

      Those titles you use for a comparison are quite fitting. It seems as if this movie was made for you.

      Delete
  10. Hi Patricia! I'm glad you covered this movie with an excellent review. I saw The Proud Rebel once when I was doing a Olivia de Havilland marathon and was totally enchanted by it. It is visually beautiful as you point out but also have some touching and memorable scenes. I didn't remember Jerome Moross composed the score!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so glad you added your fondness for the movie to this post. Hopefully you can turn the tide for some who may be on the fence about checking it out.

      Delete
  11. Thanks for such a lovely write-up of this film, you capture so well its quiet quality, which comes through in Olivia's performance. She plays strong without being brassy or ostentatious, and she's quite believable. I do find the film difficult to watch, though; the scenes of cruelty to the dog are too disturbing for me. I wonder how they would affect children.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I was young I was quite upset at Lance's predicament but, for me, that only made the reunion that much more emotionally satisfying (rather like Dumbo). I admit to feeling the same emotions today.

      Delete

THE WORLD WAR ONE ON FILM BLOGATHON: Broken Lullaby (1932)

Maddy Loves Her Classic Films is hosting The World War One On Film Blogathon on November 10th and 11th to commemorate the 100th annive...