This week’s movie was the 1951 Twentieth Century-Fox film “I’d Climb the Highest Mountain,” with Susan Hayward, William Lundigan, Rory Calhoun, Barbara Bates, Gene Lockhart, Lynn Bari, Ruth Donnelly, Kathleen Lockhart and Alexander Knox.
Screenplay by Lamar Trotti from a novel by Corra Harris.
Color by Technicolor, Monroe W. Burbank consultant.
Music by Sol Kaplan, photography by Edward Cronjager.
Art direction by Lyle Wheeler and Maurice Ransford. edited by Barbara McLean, wardrobe direction by Charles Le Maire, costumes by Edward Stevenson, musical direction by Lionel Newman, orchestration by Edward Powell. Makeup by Ben Nye, special photographic effects by Fred Sersen, sound by Eugene Grossman and Roger Heman. Technical advisor the Rev. Wallace Rogers.
Produced by Lamar Trotti.
Directed by Henry King.
“I’d Climb the Highest Mountain” is available on DVD from TCM.
I picked “I’d Climb the Highest Mountain” because it was one of the top-grossing films of 1951.
Film Bulletin (Feb. 26, 1951) reported: Atlanta had its biggest movie excitement since GWTW when 20th-Fox’s “I’d Climb the Highest Mountain” opened to a huge $21,000 ($215,352.52 in 2020 dollars) take on opening night, proceeds to charity, and has continued to play to capacity crowds since.” Modern Screen, in a feature on star William Lundigan, reported that a sequel with Susan Hayward was in the works, but I can’t find any trace of it.
The story is simple: The experiences of a country preacher (William Lundigan) and his new bride (Susan Hayward) with his rural congregation.
There is the troublemaker (Rory Calhoun), though he’s really not all that bad, and the stern atheist (Alexander Knox) who comes to respect the preacher. There’s the country doctor (Frank Tweddell) who hasn’t much use for religion but likewise comes to respect the preacher after getting the community through an epidemic by using the little country church as a makeshift hospital. There is triumph and tragedy, underscored as Lundigan and Hayward stop in the cemetery to visit their infant son’s grave before leaving town.
But as one review said, it’s a gentle movie and the company took great efforts to make the movie accurate, including filming in Georgia, although the the film never establishes the location besides being “in the hills” and a foreign territory to “a city girl.”
Sadly, the print that airs on Fox Retro is dismal and blurry with a horrible shift in colors, so bad that it looks like a primitive attempt at colorizing a black and white film. I don’t know if the DVD is in better shape (TCM has only shown the movie once, in 2016), but I would hope so.
Corra Harris’ 1910 book “A Circuit-Rider’s Wife) is in public domain and available via Google Books.
And let’s see which New York Times critic hated it…..
Surprise! Bosley Crowther (May 10, 1951), gave it a solid review:
Outside of the slight improbability of Susan Hayward’s appearance as the wife of a Methodist circuit-rider in the red-clay Georgia hills, there is character and general plausibility in 20th Century-Fox’s amiable film about a horse-and-buggy preacher, now on the Roxy’s screen.
“I’d Climb the Highest Mountain,” which producer Lamar Trotti has derived from a novel by Corra Harris, “A Circuit-Rider’s Wife,” is not what you’d call a picture with a strong dramatic plot, rising to peaks of high excitement or theatrical suspense. It is rather a loosely rambling recount of touching and amusing episodes in the lives of a country parson and his inexperienced city-bred wife as they patiently devote themselves to the service of the people back in the hills. But it is done with such winning affection and it is so agreeably played by William Lundigan as the parson that it carries a warm and cheering glow.
The production used large numbers of locals to add authenticity. The New York Times said that the company had residents look in their attics for the grandparents’ clothing to wear as costumes.
The opening scene at the railroad station – with the only Black people in the entire movie.
For Monday, we have some mysterious singing twins.
Update: This is Fay Fogg and Kay Fogg.
For Tuesday, we have a mystery gent.
Update: This is Frank Tweddell.
For “Hm Wednesday,” here’s a somewhat better image of Tuesday’s mystery gent. And although you may be wondering if this movie was colorized, it’s a Technicolor. Although the colors seem to have shifted over the years.
Update: This is also Frank Tweddell.
Also for “Aha Wednesday,” we have this mysterious bookish gent.
Update: This is Alexander Knox.
And finally, we have this elegant mystery woman.
Update: This is Lynn Bari.
For “Aha Thursday,” we have these mysterious folks.
Update: This is Gene and Kathleen Lockhart.
We also have this mysterious raffish gent.
Update: This is Rory Calhoun.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie, Monday’s mysterious singing twins and Wednesday’s mystery guests,) Jenny M. (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mysterious bookish gent and elegant lady), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Gary (Wednesday’s mysterious elegant lady), B.J. Merholz (Wednesday’s mysterious elegant lady), Mike Hawks (mystery movie, Monday’s mysterious singing twins and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Sheila (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guests), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast), and Patrick (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guests).
And for Friday, we have a mystery couple.
Update: This is William Lundigan and Susan Hayward.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guests), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery gents), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Chrisbo (Thursday’s mystery gent No. 1), FunkyPhD (mystery movie, Thursday’s mystery couple and Wednesday’s elegant mystery woman), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie), Tucson Barbara (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Gary (mystery movie, mystery singing twins and Thursday’s mystery gent No. 2), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests), Noir Allie (Thursday’s mystery gent No. 2), Blackwing Jenny (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mysterious bookish gent and Thursday’s mystery gents), Roget-L.A. (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery gents), Sylvia E. (mystery movie, Thursday’s mystery cast, mystery director and the mystery cast) and Megan and Thom (mystery movie, Thursday’s mystery gent No. 1 and Wednesday’s elegant mystery woman).