Raintree County (film)
|Directed by||Edward Dmytryk|
|Produced by||David Lewis|
|Written by||Millard Kaufman|
|Based on||novel by Ross Lockridge, Jr.|
Eva Marie Saint
|Music by||Johnny Green|
|Editing by||John D. Dunning|
|Distributed by||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)|
|Release dates||December 20, 1957|
|Running time||182 minutes|
Raintree County is a 1957 Technicolor film drama about the American Civil War. It was directed by Edward Dmytryk. The film stars Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Eva Marie Saint, and Lee Marvin.
Raintree County was shot at various locations, including Dunleith, an antebellum mansion, Windsor Ruins, in Lorman, Mississippi, Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee near the Kentucky border, and two locations in Kentucky, one of which was at the Liberty Hall Historic Site on Wilkinson Street in Frankfort and the other in and around Danville.
During filming, Montgomery Clift was injured in a serious automobile accident that almost killed him. After several weeks of recovery and surgery, he returned to finish the film, though injuries to face are evident in a number of scenes throughout the film. The most obvious distinction is the left side of his face being partially paralysed.
At the time, the film was the most expensive US-based film in MGM's history. Though a success at the box office, it did not recoup its cost.
In 1859, idealist John Wickliff Shawnessy (Montgomery Clift), a resident of Raintree County, Indiana, is distracted from his high school sweetheart Nell Gaither (Eva Marie Saint) by a young rich New Orleans girl, Susanna Drake (Elizabeth Taylor). He has a brief and passionate affair with Susanna while she is visiting in Raintree County. After her return to the South, she suddenly reappears to report that she is pregnant. John quickly marries her out of honor and duty, leaving Nell heartbroken.
John and Susanna initially live in the South with Susanna's family. But John, an abolitionist, does not fit well into southern society. He learns that Susanna's mother went insane and died in a suspicious fire, along with Susanna's father and a female slave who was intimated to be his lover. Susanna suspects that the slave may even have been her biological mother. It becomes apparent that Susanna has inherited her family's curse of mental illness. She finally admits to John that she faked pregnancy to trick him into marriage.
John and Susanna return to Freehaven in Raintree County, Indiana, before the outbreak of the Civil War, where John works as a teacher. They eventually have a child, Jimmy, born at the outbreak of the war. In the war's third year, Susanna develops severe paranoia and delusions. She flees Indiana, taking their young son, Jimmy, with her and seeks refuge among her family in Georgia.
Johnny becomes determined to find her and his son, and enlists in the Union Army in hopes that he will cross paths with Susanna and Jimmy. He fights in a number of hellish battles, and eventually finds Jimmy at an old plantation where he learns that Susanna has been placed in an insane asylum. He is wounded while carrying Jimmy back to Northern lines from the upcoming Southern soldiers and then is discharged from the Union Army. Johnny searches for Susanna and finds her in dreadful circumstances in a lunatic asylum and returns with her to Raintree County.
News reaches Raintree County that the South has surrendered, and shortly thereafter Abraham Lincoln has been assassinated. Johnny contemplates his future, and Nell urges him to run for political office. Susanna recognizes that John and Nell still love each other, and she decides to sacrifice herself to make way for Johnny to pursue his career and consummate his love with Nell. She runs into the nearby swamp in the middle of the night to find the legendary rain tree. Her four-year old son follows her. The search party eventually finds her body, and John and Nell find Jimmy lying asleep and head out of the swamps, not aware that the tall rain tree is glowing in the sunlight.
- Montgomery Clift as John Wickliff Shawnessey
- Elizabeth Taylor as Susanna Drake
- Eva Marie Saint as Nell Gaither
- Nigel Patrick as Prof. Jerusalem Webster Stiles
- Lee Marvin as Orville 'Flash' Perkins
- Rod Taylor as Garwood B. Jones
- Agnes Moorehead as Ellen Shawnessy
- Walter Abel as T.D. Shawnessy
- Jarma Lewis as Barbara Drake
- Tom Drake as Bobby Drake
- Rhys Williams as Ezra Gray
- Russell Collins as Niles Foster
- DeForest Kelley as Southern officer
Awards and nominations
Elizabeth Taylor was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. The film was also nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (William A. Horning, Urie McCleary, Edwin B. Willis, Hugh Hunt), Best Costume Design and Best Music, Scoring. The film was shot in a 65 millimeter widescreen process called MGM Camera 65, which was also used for MGM's 1959 version of Ben Hur.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- Variety film review; October 9, 1957, page 6.
- Harrison's Reports film review; October 12, 1957, page 162.
- Stephen Vagg, Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media, 2010 p54
- "Clift upsets Hollywood.". The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982) (1933 - 1982: National Library of Australia). 20 June 1956. p. 46. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
- See also "All Time Domestic Champs", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
- "NY Times: Raintree County". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
- Raintree County at the Internet Movie Database
- Raintree County at the TCM Movie Database
- Raintree County at allmovie