I'd Climb the Highest Mountain (1951)

87-88 mins | Comedy-drama | February 1951

Director:

Henry King

Writer:

Lamar Trotti

Producer:

Lamar Trotti

Cinematographer:

Edward Cronjager

Editor:

Barbara McLean

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Maurice Ransford

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was A Circuit Rider's Wife . Voice-over narration by Susan Hayward as "Mary" is heard throughout the picture. Although the epidemic depicted in the film is never named, contemporary sources state that it was influenza. Corra Harris' novel, which first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post (22 Jan--26 Feb, 4 Jun and 18 Jun 1910), was a fictionalized account of her own life as the wife of a Protestant minister, who traveled the countryside preaching before different congregations throughout the rural South. Harris' sequel to the best-selling book, entitled Circuit Rider's Widow , was also published in The Saturday Evening Post . The term "circuit rider" refers to a minister who is assigned serially to a circuit of churches within a specific region.
       According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, the studio initially considered using a short story entitled "The Preacher Calls the Dance," by John W. Thomason, Jr. ( SEP 3 May 1941) as source material, in addition to Harris' book. A Jan 1951 telegram reveals, however, that screenwriter Lamar Trotti did not incorporate any of Thomason's story into the finished film, "except perhaps [for] one character name." Studio records also indicate that Jean Negulesco provided a "memo, research notes, prologue and story" for the project in early 1949, but it is unlikely that any of his work was included in the finished screenplay.
       In Mar 1947, LAT reported that Henry Fonda would be starring in the film, and that the studio was hoping to secure John Ford as the director. The news item ... More Less

The working title of this film was A Circuit Rider's Wife . Voice-over narration by Susan Hayward as "Mary" is heard throughout the picture. Although the epidemic depicted in the film is never named, contemporary sources state that it was influenza. Corra Harris' novel, which first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post (22 Jan--26 Feb, 4 Jun and 18 Jun 1910), was a fictionalized account of her own life as the wife of a Protestant minister, who traveled the countryside preaching before different congregations throughout the rural South. Harris' sequel to the best-selling book, entitled Circuit Rider's Widow , was also published in The Saturday Evening Post . The term "circuit rider" refers to a minister who is assigned serially to a circuit of churches within a specific region.
       According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, the studio initially considered using a short story entitled "The Preacher Calls the Dance," by John W. Thomason, Jr. ( SEP 3 May 1941) as source material, in addition to Harris' book. A Jan 1951 telegram reveals, however, that screenwriter Lamar Trotti did not incorporate any of Thomason's story into the finished film, "except perhaps [for] one character name." Studio records also indicate that Jean Negulesco provided a "memo, research notes, prologue and story" for the project in early 1949, but it is unlikely that any of his work was included in the finished screenplay.
       In Mar 1947, LAT reported that Henry Fonda would be starring in the film, and that the studio was hoping to secure John Ford as the director. The news item also mentioned that the picture was to be photographed in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia. According to a Mar 1950 HR news item, cinematographer Lucien Ballard, art director Maurice Ransford and production manager Joseph Behm were enroute to Tennessee to scout location sites. Although Ballard is listed as the director of photography in the film's first appearance on the HR production charts, it is unlikely that he contributed significantly to the film's photography, and the contribution of Ransford and Behm to the completed picture has not been confirmed. In early Apr 1950, LAT reported that Jeanne Crain would be starring in the picture. Susan Hayward was cast in the role in late Apr 1950, according to a HR news item. A 16 May 1950 HR news item revealed that the picture was originally to be filmed in black and white, but was switched to color by studio production chief Darryl F. Zanuck after he viewed "pre-production footage." In Jun 1950, a HR news item noted that director Henry King used all the members of the University of Georgia baseball team for sequences filmed in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Several HR news items reported that the majority of the picture was shot on several locations in Georgia, primarily near the city of Cleveland.
       Hayward and William Lundigan reprised their roles for a 29 Oct 1951 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story. Although a Jan 1952 HR news item stated that the studio had purchased By Book and Heart , a novel by Corra Harris, to use as the basis for a sequel to I'd Climb the Highest Mountain , using the same director, cast and location sites, the sequel was not produced. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Jan 1951.
---
Daily Variety
12 Jan 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Jan 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1950.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 50
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 50
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 50
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 50
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 51
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 51
p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 51
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jan 52
p. 3.
Los Angeles Daily News
1 Mar 1951.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Mar 1947.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Apr 1950.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Jan 51
p. 669.
New York Times
10 May 51
p. 38.
Newsweek
19 Feb 1951.
---
Time
5 Mar 1951.
---
Variety
17 Jan 51
p. 11.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel A Circuit Rider's Wife by Corra Harris (Philadelphia, 1910).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Do Lord, Remember Me," folk song
"Father, We Thank Thee," music by D. Batchellor, lyrics by Rebecca J. Weston
"We're Marching to Zion," music by Rev. Robert Lowery, lyrics by Isaac Watts
+
SONGS
"Do Lord, Remember Me," folk song
"Father, We Thank Thee," music by D. Batchellor, lyrics by Rebecca J. Weston
"We're Marching to Zion," music by Rev. Robert Lowery, lyrics by Isaac Watts
"In the Sweet Bye and Bye," music by Harry Von Tilzer, lyrics by Vincent P. Bryan
"In the Good Old Summertime," music by George Evans, lyrics by Ren Shields
"In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree," music by Egbert Van Alstyne, lyrics by Harry Williams
"When the Saints Go Marching In," music by James M. Black, lyrics by Katharine E. Purvis
"How Firm a Foundation," composers undetermined
"The Lord's Prayer," music by Albert Hay Malotte, lyrics traditional.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
A Circuit Rider's Wife
Release Date:
February 1951
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Atlanta, GA: 6 February 1951
Los Angeles opening: 25 February 1951
Production Date:
22 May--27 July 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
7 February 1951
Copyright Number:
LP800
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
87-88
Length(in feet):
7,874
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14627
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1910, city girl Mary Elizabeth Eden marries William Asbury Thompson, a Protestant preacher beginning his first ministry in the rural community of Mossy Creek, Georgia. Mary feels trepidation about the radical lifestyle change, but her love for William helps to assuage her nervousness. While taking Mary to her new home, William engages in a buggy race with Jack Stark, a wealthy, aimless but good-hearted young man from a nearby valley. When William wins, he tells Jack that he must fulfill their standing bet of attending church on Sunday, even though the local townsfolk consider him a black sheep. That evening, Mary meets her neighbors, who assemble at the house to celebrate her arrival. Mary inadvertently angers general store owner Jeff Brock, the wealthiest member of the congregation, when she tells his daughter Jenny that Jack, her secret sweetheart, is waiting outside for her. The partygoers drift away, and William comforts Mary by assuring her that she is the mistress of her own home. That Sunday, during his sermon, William encourages the married couples to stand and repeat their vows, and does the same with Mary. As time passes, Mary learns that part of a preacher's job is reaching out to his congregation, rather than waiting for them to come to him. One day, Mary and William visit the Salter family, who have never attended services, and meet patriarch Tom Salter, a well-educated, bitter man who has taught his three young children that religion is based on superstition. William tries to persuade Salter to allow the children to come to Sunday school, but gracefully exits when Salter refuses. On the way home, William and ... +


In 1910, city girl Mary Elizabeth Eden marries William Asbury Thompson, a Protestant preacher beginning his first ministry in the rural community of Mossy Creek, Georgia. Mary feels trepidation about the radical lifestyle change, but her love for William helps to assuage her nervousness. While taking Mary to her new home, William engages in a buggy race with Jack Stark, a wealthy, aimless but good-hearted young man from a nearby valley. When William wins, he tells Jack that he must fulfill their standing bet of attending church on Sunday, even though the local townsfolk consider him a black sheep. That evening, Mary meets her neighbors, who assemble at the house to celebrate her arrival. Mary inadvertently angers general store owner Jeff Brock, the wealthiest member of the congregation, when she tells his daughter Jenny that Jack, her secret sweetheart, is waiting outside for her. The partygoers drift away, and William comforts Mary by assuring her that she is the mistress of her own home. That Sunday, during his sermon, William encourages the married couples to stand and repeat their vows, and does the same with Mary. As time passes, Mary learns that part of a preacher's job is reaching out to his congregation, rather than waiting for them to come to him. One day, Mary and William visit the Salter family, who have never attended services, and meet patriarch Tom Salter, a well-educated, bitter man who has taught his three young children that religion is based on superstition. William tries to persuade Salter to allow the children to come to Sunday school, but gracefully exits when Salter refuses. On the way home, William and Mary again race with Jack and Jenny, and accidentally run Brock's buggy off the road. The infuriated Brock chastises William for befriending Jack, but William maintains that it is his duty to care for Jack's soul. Later, Mary worries that Brock will cancel his subscription to the congregation, thereby endangering William's salary, but William soothes Brock by swapping his lively horse for Brock's broken-down nag. Mary's pleasure at her husband's cleverness is forgotten, however, when Dr. Fleming warns the Thompsons that a deadly epidemic is breaking out and many deaths are imminent. Mary, who has never experienced illness and death before, accompanies William as he tends to the sick families, and the hard-working pair and Dr. Fleming become exhausted by the travel between the distant farms. William suggests turning the church into a hospital, and soon the building is filled with patients, including Jenny. Distraught over Jenny's illness, a drunken Jack visits the church, but William promises him that the Lord will not let Jenny die. Mary is heartbroken, as she believes that Jenny will die and that William has lied to Jack, but her faith is restored when Jenny's fever breaks and the epidemic ends. Later, William and Mary, who is pregnant, take the Sunday school children on a picnic, and persuade the reluctant Martha Salter to allow her children to attend. The happy gathering turns tragic when George Salter drowns in the mill pond, and the grieving Salter rejects William's attempt to comfort him. That night, Mary's baby is born prematurely and dies, and William somberly baptizes the infant at Mary's insistence. Mary is overwhelmed with grief, and as the months pass, neglects William and herself. She is reminded of the necessity of making herself appealing to her husband, however, by the appearance of the beautiful Mrs. Billywith, a lonely married woman who turns to William for "spiritual advice." Although William remains ignorant of Mrs. Billywith's designs on him, Mary warns her to stay away from him, and begins making herself attractive once again. Soon after, Jack and Jenny elope and ask William to marry them. William performs the service, but the young couple must then go to the city to obtain a marriage license. After they leave, Brock arrives, but William and Mary calm him down and even convince him to pay William for the service. Brock's five dollars become the start of William's Christmas fund, for, after he learns that Salter has told his remaining children that there is no Santa Claus, William decides to provide all of Mossy Creek's children with anonymous presents. William's mission is a success, and when Salter sees how thrilled his children are with their presents from Santa Claus, he wonders if his rigid beliefs have robbed them of the joys of childhood. When spring arrives, William's three-year assignment at Mossy Creek comes to end, and it is time for him and Mary to move to a new community. The Thompsons are bid farewell by their loving congregation, and even Salter steps forward and promises William that he will face the future with an open mind. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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