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The Southerner

31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Famed French director Jean Renoir came up with a true slice of Americana in this drama, in which he also helped to write the screenplay, which chronicles a year in the life of a tenant-farmer and his family. Zachary Scott abandoned his usual smooth characterizations to portray the beleaguered man of the land, coping with trying to survive against the problems of farming and a troublesome neighbor. Excellent photography and top performances by all involved make this a special film not to be missed by any classic film buff. Based on George Sessions Perry's novel, Hold Autumn in Your Hand, The Southerner was Renoir's favorite among his American films. The film, though not a huge boxoffice success for United Artists, garnered much critical acclaim and also won the Venice Film Festival's Best Picture Award. Bonus Features: Bonus Two-Reeler Comedy "Baby Daze" with Edgar Kennedy, Scene Selection. Actor Bios. Specs: DVD5; Dolby Digital Mono; 91 minutes; B&W; 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA - NR; Year - 1945.

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During World War II, Jean Renoir fled Nazi-occupied France for America and tried his hand at making Hollywood films. This period is generally (and unfairly) dismissed as fallow ground in Renoir's career, but even most of his critics agree that The Southerner is not just the best of his five American films, but a fine example of Renoir's humanistic vision. Transplanting the poetic realism of his French masterpieces of the 1930s to the rural American South, Renoir presents a year in the life of a family of migrant workers who decide to follow their dream of farming their own land. Hawk-eyed Zachary Scott gives the performance of his career as the easygoing but determined father who risks everything to give his family something to call their own, with J. Carroll Naish as his bitter, hostile neighbor. The seasonal structure and episodic nature of the film focuses on the hardships the family faces, finding the rhythm of life between setbacks and victories and the soul of his lovingly created characters through their bent but unbowed spirit. Renoir adapted George Perry Sessions's novel Hold Autumn in Your Hand with uncredited help from William Faulkner. This was Renoir's personal favorite of his American films and the only one to enjoy commercial success. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

  • Bonus!: Classic Comedy Short, Baby Daze, starring Edgar Kennedy

Product Details

  • Actors: Zachary Scott, Betty Field, J. Carrol Naish, Beulah Bondi, Percy Kilbride
  • Directors: Jean Renoir
  • Writers: Jean Renoir, George Sessions Perry, Hugo Butler, Nunnally Johnson, William Faulkner
  • Producers: David L. Loew, Robert Hakim
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: VCI Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 25, 2000
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000IO3T
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,850 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Southerner" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 4, 2000
Format: DVD
Renoir's "The Southerner" captures the gripping poverty of southern share croppers. It has a good story line, beautiful black and white cinematography, and fine acting. In fact my only objection is that the actors did not have much of a southern accent and looked "too pretty" at times for their environment.
This is a film that cries out for restoration, as has been done with the wonderful Criterion Collection DVD of "Grand Illusion". As it is, I rated this 4 stars because of the 2 to 3 star poor condition of the print used...black lines, jumping images at times and poor soundtrack. Well, you can't have everything and would still recommend seeing this movie. Together with "Grapes of Wrath" and "Salt of the Earth", it draws a powerful portrait of the power of a family and human kindness in a struggle against grinding poverty.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Fernando Silva on August 10, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
A sincere film, real, poignant, believable, and excellently acted all around. It tells the story of the hardships lived by a poor family in the country. For sure in my top ten list! Unforgettable!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Carol Collins on January 27, 2008
Format: DVD
An older black & white film about a southern family in the early 30s when success or failure depended on the elements (rain, drought) and the good will of neighbors. It's a film about people and they don't make that kind of film anymore. Nobody commits adultery, love scenes that didn't embarrass me (I'm not a Peeping Tom) there is no blood and guts (although it is threatened at one point) and the people work hard and are loyal, care about each other, and the ending is believable...not happy ever after...but more like it was...and is. Scott acts one of the few parts he has had who is sympathetic. Betty Field was a great actress, as was Beulah Bondi. J. Carrol Naish played every ethnicity except his own (Irish) and this time he had no accent. Scott was a also very accomplished actor. Altogether an inspired cast.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James Ashley on September 6, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Movies like THE SOUTHERNER should be seen by everyone who whines about the tough times we have today. This film is the story of one man's struggle to maintain his crops and keep his family safe, comfortable and happy during some very tough times, the Great Depression. However, I would recommend buying a much better DVD if it can be found. I knew I was getting a cheap disc, but I didn't realize how cheaply made it was until I watched it: no chapter selection, and no chapter divisions either, so that you could at least skip forward if you have to watch the rest of the movie later. Every time I find a disc like that, I want to say to the people who made it: "Come on, I've got friends who can put chapters on their privately burned DVD's."
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Most people in our affluent society today have no real concept of what true poverty is. This movie brings the reality home just as "Saving Private Ryan" brought home to us what REAL war is like. My family is from eastern Kentucky and we LOVE this movie because we can relate to it. It also shows how people can be so uncaring about their fellow man, even little children. This movie truly is a "wake up call" to the human psyche. I wish more people would watch it and learn from it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Doc Holliday on October 27, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have to admit, I am a fan of both Zachary Scott and Betty Fields. As a youngster, I got to meet both of them when they were on the summer stock circuit on the East Coast. They were outstanding and talented stage performers, and exceptionally, kind individuals.

After appearing in "The Mask of Dimitrios" at Warner Bros., Scott's portrayal of Sam Tucker, cotton farmer, was one of his few, non-heavy roles in film that he was able to get away from Warner to complete. Betty Field was also well-known for her wonderful performance in "Of Mice and Men" with Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr.

Together, in "The Southerner", Scott and Field have a striking chemistry and are thoroughly convincing as husband and wife, loving parents, and struggling farmers.

Apparently, Jean Renoir refused to become involved in the film production, unless he was allowed to the rewrite the screenplay, himself. The film, in black and white, has an expressive, gritty, graphic quality, due to Renoir and cinematographer, French-born, Lucien Andriot.

However, this particular, DVD version, has no support material and, no main menu. It is solely the film, which should have been restored. Having said that, we're lucky to have the film on DVD, at all.

At the same time, I am also enjoying the (2006) biography, Zachary Scott: Hollywood's Sophisticated Cad by Ronald L. Davis. It's a good read, and underscores Scott's struggles and frustration to become a complete, dramatic star in Hollywood.

I almost wish, when Scott visited London, as a young man, that he would have remained there to continue his studies in Shakespeare. Instead, he choose to quickly return to the New York stage, and eventually, seek his fortune in Hollywood. I wonder, how far he would have been able to stretch his dramatic skills?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I saw this movie on a Saturday morning when I had nothing else to do. It kept me entertained for the whole hour and 30 minutes. It's absorbing, interesting and heartwarming. It's one of the first really good movies I've seen in awhile. Zachary Scott and Betty Field are perfect in their roles as the struggling farmers. I would definately recommend it.
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