The Southerner (film)

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The Southerner
Southerner poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jean Renoir
Produced by Robert Hakim
David L. Loew
Screenplay by Hugo Butler
Jean Renoir
William Faulkner
Nunnally Johnson
Based on Hold Autumn in Your Hand
1941 novel
by George Sessions Perry
Starring Zachary Scott
Betty Field
J. Carrol Naish
Music by Werner Janssen
Cinematography Lucien N. Andriot
Edited by Gregg C. Tallas
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • April 30, 1945 (1945-04-30)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $750,000[1]

The Southerner is a 1945 American film directed by Jean Renoir, based on the 1941 novel Hold Autumn in Your Hand by George Sessions Perry. The film received Oscar nominations for Best Director, Original Music Score and Sound. Renoir was named Best Director by the National Board of Review, which also named the film the third best of 1945.[2]The film is in the public domain.[3]


Sam Tucker (Zachary Scott) is a cotton picker in Texas who decides to start his own farm. He and wife Nona (Betty Field), Granny (Beulah Bondi) and children Jot and Daisy set out with nothing but two mules and a bit of seed.

The land they lease has no working well, so neighbor Henry Devers (J. Carrol Naish) reluctantly lets the Tuckers share his water supply. They nearly starve and freeze during a hard winter. Come spring, the child Jot falls ill with "Spring Sickness" and desperately needs milk and vegetables to survive, but general store owner Harmie (Percy Kilbride) refuses the Tuckers credit.

Sam's friend Tim (Charles Kemper) offers to help find him a city job in a factory. Sam remains determined to make the farm work, and Harmie answers the family's prayers with the gift of a cow. Cotton blooms and a vegetable garden is planted. The bitter Devers and his nephew Finlay (Norman Lloyd) conspire to ruin the Tuckers, though, because Devers wants their land.

After a fight, Devers comes armed with a gun, only to find Sam about to catch a catfish that Devers has been after for years. In return for the fish and bragging rights that he caught it, he agrees to leave Sam's family alone. Harmie (Percy Kilbride) ends up marrying Sam's mother and life seems fruitful at last, only to have a terrible thunderstorm ruin their crop and ravage the Tuckers' home. They must start over once more.



Future director Robert Aldrich was an assistant director on this film. The flood, supplied by water from the Friant Dam, was shot at where Millerton Lake is located today.

Critical reception[edit]

Variety magazine gave the film a favorable review and wrote, "The Southerner creates too little hope for a solution to the difficulties of farm workers who constantly look forward to the day when they can settle forever their existence of poverty with a long-sought harvest - a harvest that invariably never comes ... Zachary Scott and Betty Field give fine performances, as do Beulah Bondi, the grandmother, Percy Kilbride, Charles Kemper and J. Carrol Naish.[4]

Bosley Crowther, the film critic of the New York Times, liked the film and wrote, "The Southerner may not be an "entertainment" in the rigid Hollywood sense and it may have some flaws, but it is, nevertheless, a rich, unusual and sensitive delineation of a segment of the American scene well worth filming and seeing."[5]




  • Academy Awards: Oscar, Best Director, Jean Renoir; Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Werner Janssen; Best Sound, Recording Jack Whitney (Sound Services Inc); 1946.[8]


  1. ^ "Indies $70,000,000 Pix Output". Variety: 3. 3 November 1944. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  2. ^ The Southerner on Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ The Southerner is available for free download at the Internet Archive
  4. ^ Variety, film review, April 30, 1945. Last accessed: July 15, 2010.
  5. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, August 27, 1945. Last accessed: July 15, 2010.
  6. ^ [1] Archived May 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Faulkner, Christopher (1979). Jean Renoir, a guide to references and resources. Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Company. p. 28. .
  8. ^ "The 18th Academy Awards (1946) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved August 16, 2011. 

External links[edit]