Monday, March 24, 2014

THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE (1936)

Way up in the mountains of Kentucky, the Falins and the Tollivers have been feudin' for so long nobody even remembers what for.  They just know they hate the hell out of each other and will shoot to kill on sight.  In the middle of this madness walks Fred MacMurray.  He works for the coal company and he wants to buy land from both the Tollivers and the Falins.  And while he's at it, he might just take a fancy to Henry Fonda's main squeeze...his own cousin!

For 1936 I was really impressed by the colour photography.  Supposedly this was the first movie to use Technicolor for the outdoor sequences and they look great.  The story on the other hand...ehh, it was just alright.  The tension between the hillbilly Fonda and the city slicker is pretty predictable and outside of just a few minor skirmishes we never get to see the Falins and the Tollivers feudin' for really.  I wanted to see some straight up badass gunfights but it never happened.  Also Fonda, even this early in his career, deserved better than playing some backwoods hick who hates sophisticated outsiders and their highfalutin book learning so much that he throws his young cousin's colouring book in the fireplace.  Even with such a one-dimensional character he still turns in a good performance.

One interest aspect that I thought was lost would have been instead of Fonda wanting to marry his own cousin, to (before MacMurray shows up) have Fonda (a Tolliver) having a secret courtship going with a Falin girl, but then when Fred shows up he throws a monkey wrench in the works by being interesting and new while at the same time stirring up the feud even more.  Just a thought.  Over an hundred years too late (the novel was written in 1908), but I think it would have liven things up a bit.  As it is though it's an alright classic Hollywood timewaster that's interesting thanks to early performances by MacMurray and Fonda.