28 March 2002 | tashman
A Stylish Rural Tale
I wasn't surprised to learn that Frank Tuttle directed this unexpectedly beautiful and stylish film. A quintessential "rural" story of the younger sibling (ie, the SECOND FIDDLE) breaking out from the oppressive shadow of the favored son. This is a stylish, briskly paced tale, and although themes of rural poverty, child abuse, and alcoholism conspire to render the proceedings occasionally grave, the acting is uniformly thoughtful and natural, thus occasionally lightening the burden. Much of this picture was shot out of doors, and during bright times with a consistent windiness about the grasses and trees, lending the piece a rather glowing, nether worldly quality and giving the film an eerie, contemporary feel. You are literally swept along with the breeze. It also helps that the leading players are exceptionally non-period, with Glenn Hunter particularly, and with timeless Mary Astor magically so. Young Mary Astor's dark beauty was as breathtaking as expected, but nothing prepared the audience for the bewitchingly natural vision captured in that outdoor splendor. And remarks about her beauty shouldn't obscure her value as one of the best actresses to ever grace the screen. Glenn Hunter was a lanky man, complete with imperfect teeth and angular face and hair cowlick. He gives a heart-felt, full-blooded performance as a young man finding himself and saving the heroine along the way.