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Two fugitives hide out in a vineyard.
Fleeing a murder charge, Italians Ernesto Barandero and his brother Giancarlo cross the French border in search of work harvesting grapes during the "vintage" season. While they wait at a pastoral vineyard farmhouse for the owner, Louis Morel, to return, his wife Leonne and her sister Lucienne befriend the men. Hearing explosions nearby, Lucienne, an effusive teenager, explains that farmers are setting off explosives that stir the air to prevent hailstorms. Soon after, Louis, frustrated by the precarious weather and his inability to decide when to harvest, orders the brothers off his land, but elderly Uncle Ton Ton quietly suggests that they wait in a nearby shack. Once inside the house, Louis rants about the needy workers, prompting Leonne to wistfully recall when her now heartless and preoccupied husband was more generous with the pickers and kinder to her. Softened by Leonne, Louis decides to harvest the next morning and allows Lucienne to take food to the brothers. Later at the shack, Lucienne notes that the brothers' calluses are not that of pickers and offers to teach the inexperienced workers how to harvest if they are hired. As Lucienne returns to the house, her would-be fiancé, Etienne Morel, jealous of her time alone with the men, urgently suggests they marry after the harvest, but Lucienne refuses him. A rainstorm develops that evening, causing Louis to become drunk and deliriously pray to God to save his crops. When Giancarlo and Ernesto find Louis passed out in the vineyard and bring him home later that night, Ernesto's brooding eyes intrigue a grateful Leonne. The next morning a brief scuffle between the newly arrived Spanish pickers and the brothers ensues. Jovial Spanish leader Eduardo Uriburri diffuses the tension by offering his hand in friendship and agreeing to share the shack with the brothers. Despite Etienne's protests that the brothers do not have work cards, Louis hires Ernesto and Giancarlo that day and orders everyone to work. At lunchtime, Leonne's young daughter Yolande spies Ernesto carving a portrait of her mother in a small block of wood. Ernesto befriends the girl and asks her to keep his work a secret. That afternoon policeman Berger, prompted by a report from Etienne, asks Louis to fire the brothers, but after the entire crew threatens to strike if the brothers are fired, Louis is forced to keep Ernesto and Giancarlo in order to save his crop. The next day, when Leonne questions Ernesto about his sullen behavior, he reveals that he and Giancarlo lost their parents and their home during the war and were forced to fend for themselves in a violent environment. When Ernesto returns to the shack, Giancarlo warns him that any further contact with Leonne will cause problems and takes the sculpture from Ernesto, who then challenges him to a fight. While Giancarlo calms his frantic brother down, he unknowingly drops the sculpture. That night Giancarlo discovers the sculpture is missing and retraces his steps, but dogs, set out to catch a chicken thief, attack him before he can find it. Assuming Giancarlo is the thief, Louis locks him up and promises to call the police in the morning. That night when Lucienne secretly visits Giancarlo to reveal her affection for him, he tries to explain to the teenager that her longing will pass. As Lucienne persists in hugging him, Giancarlo cannot resist kissing the girl. The next morning, after Yolande hands the sculpture to her mother explaining that Ernesto made it, Leonne realizes that Giancarlo could not use the sculpture to clear himself of the crime for fear of inciting Louis' jealousy. When Ernesto comes to the house to beg Leonne for help, he admits that he killed a man to protect an innocent victim and insists Leonne keep the figure. Ernesto is forced to suddenly hide when Louis enters the house and, catching sight of the sculpture, accuses his wife of infidelity. Leonne slaps her husband and defends herself stating that although there were no indiscretions between her and Ernesto, she has no regret that the young man made her feel desired. Shocked by his wife's honesty, Louis leaves the house and releases Giancarlo, who tells Lucienne to forget their amorous embrace the previous evening. Meanwhile, Uncle Ton Ton is caught stealing chickens and explains that, having once been the family patriarch, he is too embarrassed by his diminished family role to ask for anything as trivial as chocolate, so he has been trading chocolate for chickens with Eduardo. Moved, Louis offers to give Uncle Ton Ton chickens of his own. Meanwhile, Eduardo offers to take the brothers to Spain with the crew the next day and advises them to avoid the harvest celebration that evening. Later, Lucienne leaves the party to offer herself and her dowry, a nearby vineyard, to Giancarlo. Meanwhile at the house, Ernesto, guilt-ridden by the burden his brother assumed by fleeing with him, tells Leonne that he is leaving without Giancarlo, to free his brother. Within moments, the police arrive and inform Louis that Ernesto is wanted for murder. When Louis finds the fugitive with his wife, Leonne defends the young man as Louis loads his gun. She insists that it is Louis' jealousy, not Ernesto's crime, that is driving her husband to kill. Louis, defeated, unloads his gun and leaves the house. Ernesto professes his love to Leonne, but she does not encourage him because of her marriage commitment. Seeing that the police are out of sight, Leonne ushers Ernesto out the door. Yolande, recognizing Ernesto, calls him by name, alerting the police, who shoot and kill him. The next day, a grief-stricken Giancarlo refuses Eduardo's offer to continue to Spain working as a picker. As Leonne and Louis look on, Giancarlo takes the path leading from the house, where Lucienne rushes to his side and offers to show him "their" vineyard. Giancarlo embraces the young woman and lets her lead the way.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1957||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Distributions Co:||Loew's Inc.|
|Sound:||Production Co:||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.|
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Teddy Kaye 2012-05-08
Entertaining movie about relationships set during the grape harvest in a French vineyard. These are 1950's relationships, so you have to accept them,...