“No woman like her: one minute fighting, scratching, the next minute she’s as sweet and soft as any woman alive.”
A young woman (Jennifer Jones) from the “wrong side of the tracks” — who has been adopted by businessman Jim Gentry (Karl Malden) and his sickly wife (Josephine Hutchinson) — is dismayed when her lover (Charlton Heston) decides to marry a wealthy socialite (Phyllis Avery). Ruby (Jones) makes the best of things by marrying Malden once his wife passes away, but society still won’t accept Ruby — and when a tragic accident ensues, the town’s relentless disparagement drives Ruby to seek revenge.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Charlton Heston Films
- Class Relations
- Cross-Class Romance
- Deep South
- Jennifer Jones Films
- Karl Malden Films
- King Vidor Films
- Strong Females
Peary doesn’t review this King Vidor-directed melodrama in his GFTFF, but he designates it as a Personal Recommendation in the back of his book, and names Jones one of the Best Actresses of the Year in his Alternate Oscars. Unfortunately, I’m more in alignment with DVD Savant’s critical review of the film, which he refers to as a “ragged bush-league soap opera” in which “a lusty female is the source of all evil”. Savant writes that while “Jones had great gifts as an actress,” her “roles in many of her American films post-Duel in the Sun” — including this one — “are gross caricatures”; and he notes that while “the forced theatrics are not quite as exaggerated as Pearl Chavez’ antics in Duel in the Sun,” “they’re also not as entertaining” — though “fans of champion scenery chewing will find plenty of delight amid Heston’s strutting and Jennifer Jones’ over-emphatic presence.” Indeed, there’s very little to recommend about this clunker, which seems poorly conceived on every level. The voice-over narration by a timid doctor (Barney Phillips) secretly in love with Ruby feels out of place, and Ruby’s character veers wildly from beginning to end. She’s most enjoyable about an hour into the film, when things suddenly get a lot more interesting — though at this point there are only 20 minutes left in the all-around unbelievable storyline, and we’re simply waiting to see how things will resolve.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Russell Harlan’s cinematography
No; you can skip this one. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.