4 August 2008 | moonspinner55
"Flesh and blood meets flesh and blood/And you're the one I need..."
Underrated, overlooked gem from director John Frankenheimer has Gregory Peck in fine form playing Tennessee sheriff and family man in a depressed hillbilly town falling for Tuesday Weld, the comely daughter of a moonshiner. The sheriff, torn by sexual longing and responsibilities--and throwing all morality out of his path--strikes a subtle arrangement with the mountain clan to continue seeing their daughter if they keep their business under-wraps...but is this girl just stringing the lawman along? Frankenheimer bookends the film with a collage of sorrowful faces (scored with music by Johnny Cash) and the effect is a bit pretentious (it seems like a put-on); however, the director's dramatic compositions (helped immeasurably by David M. Walsh's superlative cinematography) overcome this arty overreaching and actually take on some meaning. Alvin Sargent's screenplay, adapted from Madison Jones' book "An Exile", is literate and engrossing, and the obtrusiveness of that stilted opening (as well as Cash's songs, pushed too far out in front) can easily be forgiven. Sexual obsession wears surprisingly well on Gregory Peck, and when he asks Weld to run away with him, you believe it. Both performers are terrific (even Peck's arched eyebrow and granite jaw work well for him here) and the supporting cast is equally solid. Atmospheric and charged with emotion. *** from ****