The Southerner Retro Talk; Grade: B+
Updated: Apr 27
Welcome to another edition of Retro Talk! On this Thursday night, I’m feeling under the weather... Easy now, just a runny nose is all, will be better soon. Today we will talk about a 1945 film called The Southerner! The Southerner went on to be nominated for three Oscars, including Best Original Score and Best Directing.
The film tells a story of hard working American man named Sam Tucker (Zachary Scott) who’s Uncle recently has passed. The passing of his Uncle inspired Sam to follow his dream, of having his very own cotton farm, becoming his own man instead working for someone else. So he made a deal with one of his colleagues, to rent a home that has enough land to start up a farm. So Sam moves his entire family out there, that includes his wife Nona Tucker (Betty Field), his children, and his Granny (Beulah Bondi) out there. Only to find out this potential farm is extremely worn down and lousy. Though the many challenges Sam Tucker have in front of him, he is very determined to achieving his dreams. Whether it be spring sickness, lack of necessity’s like food and water, blankets during the winter, rain or snow... Nothing shall stop the Tucker’s in achieving their cotton farm.
The Southerner offers a traditional American look, followed by simple yet effective set pieces and costume design. The film offers a very cool Score, very classical and traditional to any other Score during this era of film. The cast all in all t’was very impactful towards the story, majority of the cast had personality, making the film often entertaining. Zachary Scott plays a very good performance as Sam Tucker, giving the swagger and likability this character needs to have. The character itself is not only a hard working individual, but he’s also a strong minded character as well, whom will stop at nothing until his dream is accomplished. It kind of resembles to any American: You can achieve anything you want in life, as long as you work hard and have the complete determination to achieve what is in front of you. Though you feel frustration at this character, as better opportunities come up to have a much more secure life than what they are currently facing. Sam chooses to never stop believing, as he knows he is another step closer to being on his way there. Betty Field plays a solid performance as Sam’s wife, showing a great example of what a supporting wife is suppose to look like. Though all doubt is against Sam, Nona is Sam’s rock to success, as she shows nothing but support to her man... Take Notes Ladies. I loved Beulah Bondi as Sam’s granny, totally reminds me of June Squibb’s performance in Nebraska. Sam’s granny is always criticizing the family, on their decision of moving to that dump, providing a very reliable comedic relief to the film. Provides many entertaining and laugh out moments, a truly wonderful performance. The antagonists of the film is basically Sam’s neighbors, whom they too own a farm of their own. They hold a great amount of pride for their own farm, as they find it insulting a man whom has no experience of having a farm of their own, think it’s a piece of cake to think they can just develop a farm of their own. While it’s understanding why the next door farmer feels this way, I find it kind of odd towards their judgement against Sam. He’s a very nice and even humble human being, whom doesn’t show any sign of cockiness whatsoever.
I do have a couple flaws for this film. There was a poorly executed fight scene in this film, that you can clearly tell it was fake. Though the bar scene was very enjoyable, it also felt misplaced especially the fight scene at the end... Which never had any consequences?! Very confusing.
Discovering The Southerner came from showing up on the MUBI app one night. Having seeing this film: This is perhaps what you call an American classic, a very well made film that inspires any individual to accomplish any bizarre dreams they have. It’s a very compelling inspiring story, of how a man thrives through a great amount of adversity to accomplishing a dream. It offers a solid amount of variety including action, drama, and especially comedy. The sequences of emotional moments really elevate this film, as you find yourself rooting for this gentleman to prove his doubters wrong, including a few of his family members. This film can also be a message, of testing anyone’s character. You can not let any individual get in the way of the vision you set yourself up to be, you must always remain humble, work hard, and truly believe in yourself as success will fall in your hands in due time. The ending of this film though devastating, brings a huge smile on anyone’s faces. Despite the travesty the Tuckers are now facing, as the father complicates in giving up... The family lifts his spirits up, as they believe they can turn around the new challenges they currently face in front of them. It’s a sign of respect they have for Sam Tucker, his determination and character really inspired the family, into believing in not only his vision but to over come any sort of challenge they face. In a time where we need any sort of inspiration and encouragement, into over coming the challenges we currently face... The Southerner is a film worth watching, to lifting one’s spirits up.
Overall, The Southerner is a great film. I highly recommend checking this one out ASAP, definitely worth watching during these tough times. Hope you all are doing well, until next week on Retro Talk! -Mitch Smietana