American small towns don't come much cosier than Liberty Hill, the setting for this very old-fashioned weepie. Peyton Place it ain't. Jennifer Jones is the spinsterish school ma rm who rules with a rod of iron but who has a heart of gold and the movie tells us, in flashbacks, how she got that way. As an old lady, Jones is stiff and awkward and you hope that in the flashbacks she might be given the chance to blossom but this is a one-dimensional performance and she's as bad as an only half-decent actress can be when cast against type.
As to the film itself, it's a handsome looking picture thanks largely to Leon Shamroy's excellent wide-screen photography but it's directed by that leaden ham Henry Koster. Koster's idea of movie-making was to make sure his characters remained in frame and remembered their lines. Fifteen minutes into this highly sentimental film you know the entire plot. Whether you want to hang around for the next ninety or so minutes will depend on your propensity for sucrose.
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