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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The Shepherd Of The Hills (1941)

Set in the Ozarks, a young hillbilly moonshiner (John Wayne) is consumed with revenge for his deceased mother who was abandoned by his uncaring father. The arrival of a stranger (Harry Carey) into their superstitious community sets off a change of events that lifts the veil off their dark past. Loosely based on the novel by Harold Bell Wright (previously filmed in 1928) and directed by Henry Hathaway (TRUE GRIT). The film is most notable for its use of the three strip Technicolor process and Charles Lang's and W. Howard Greene's stunning lensing of the mountain location (shot in Big Bear Lake in California). The story itself is an uncomplicated mixture of mysticism and vengeance among credulous hillbillies that borders on condescension. John Wayne had not yet settled into his John Wayne persona that would solidify by the 1950s so he's able to give a more relaxed performance. Taking all of that into account, I was still entertained. With Betty Field, Beulah Bondi, Marjorie Main, Ward Bond, Marc Lawrence, John Qualen and Dorothy Adams.

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