The Southerner (1945)

Sam Tucker (Zachary Scott) is the title character in The Southerner.  He makes decent money picking crops in the summer and operating a bulldozer in the winter, but decides he wants to get his own farm. Three different people, in three different ways, tell him it is a mistake, that there is a good living and security in working for wages, but too much risk and privation in trying to start a farm. But he won’t listen, because he just wants to own his own farm.

Sure enough, everything goes wrong. He and his family almost freeze to death, almost starve, and a child almost dies of pellagra. He prays to God, asking him to tell him what to do. As far as I’m concerned, God has already tried to tell him what to do through the advice he was given and through the hardships he and his family have suffered, but that wasn’t what he wanted to hear.

He sticks it out, and when the cotton is finally ready for harvest, it is completely ruined by a rain storm. Disgusted, he says he is through, and he is going to get a job at a factory. And just for a moment, I thought, “Good. He has finally come to his senses, and the movie is going to have a happy ending.”

Who am I kidding? No movie would ever end like that, even though it should. Instead, faith and optimism and pluck take over, and he is going to stick it out. Uplifting music. Credits. The End.

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