- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
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Don't Like This Movie
- Adnan Mullick
What gives with the middle daughter who rats out every other kid in the family? Why is she there? And what's Christian about snitching on others as a daily occurrence? And if this is an exemplary Christian community, they sure are an unforgiving and hypocritical crowd. The way they treat that little minister guy is just plain cruel. The movie is loaded with bogus nonsense just like this.
I have never seen a Henry Fonda movie I did not like UNTIL I saw Spencer's Mountain.
- Elwood P. Dowd
It appears that there are two types of reviews here. One focuses on the flaws in the production, casting, plot, setting and/or themes of this film. Some observation are quite astute and some are just plain funny. The second type of review appears to focus on irate political and/or religious rants and are written by people who find some sort of spiritual or social salvation in this movie. Fair enough and to each his own. To me, this movie completely loses its way when the rich girl comes home and taunts Clayboy with "dirty words" from the dictionary. She has conveniently and thoughtfully underscored the best ones to educate the obviously moronic Clayboy who doesn't even own a dictionary. When she points out the word,"fiction," and tells the wide-eyed sap that all of the girls at her boarding school were sure it was erotic because it "sounded dirty," it speaks volumes about the mental abilities of both of these remarkably uninspired characters and helps the viewer to visualize the idea that if these two actually mated, they would have two headed kids. Another way to put this would be to say that it is with this scene that Spencer's Mountain jumps the shark.
I've read the reviews and I've seen this movie a few times and I've never quite known why I haven't totally liked it. I saw it again on TCM and something hit me. It is not Henry Fonda's best work by a long shot. In any role where he is a focused and determined character (good guy or evil cowboy), he is always, always outstanding. But as a drunk, and a hesitant one at that, who is supposed to be irresponsible and unreliable, he doesn't fit. Clearly he is providing for that enormous family and for people who are "poor" they are living quite well. Just look at the food they eat. (What in god's name is in that gigantic sandwich that Clayboy eats midway through the film?) Drunks generally cannot perform that miracle. The whole alcoholic theme doesn't work and it damages the story. Make him a lush or make him a responsible man, but the wavering back and forth is nonsense. I can't figure Maureen O'Hara. She is harsh and she does a lot of crying in this movie but never sheds a tear. It's as if she never really got into the part. The college girl who comes home and hits on Clayboy (over and over) is a twit and very annoying. Previous comments have stated this. I agree that Maureen O'Hara's character, devoutly religious, in a better script, would be appalled by that girl's approach to Clayboy. The movie is OK but the problem is that with the names of Fonda and O'Hara, maybe viewers just expected far more.
Classic American Family Film
I don't know whether to laugh, cringe, or recoil in disgust from all the negative, mock-sophisto reviews here, so how about if I just respond in kind? Let's remember the time in which this film was made - pre-cynical/PC America - and not cavil over subsequent bowdlerizations of how films are made more than 50 years later. Yes, Henry Fonda was jerk to his kids, as well as a flaming homophobe, but he was a good actor. Maureen O'Hara was a great actress who had a unique energy that comes across well here. Donald Crisp and Wally Cox are also good, and the kids who played the Spencer children are all just fine in their roles. Add to that some beautiful scenery, well composed and shot by the cameramen, and you've got a fine film, whether shot in WY or WV. I suspect there's more than a tinge of jealousy and bitterness motivating the hypercritics in their rote denunciations of this movie. Could it just possibly be that these people resent the values and lifestyle - yes, poor, straight, rural Christians have them, too! - portrayed here and, showing their usual hypocritical intolerance, would just as soon send this movie to the Vaporiser? If for nothing else, "Spencer's Mtn." is a historical document that serves as an excellent foil for the foolish of today.
This movie is like one of those Lifetime Movies except it has actors who were not totally washed up when the film was made and nobody goes missing or is killed by a chainsaw. Regardless, the movie is so sickeningly sweet, it will give you cavities. The storyline is not believable and the characters are all so sanctimonious they drive normal people crazy. This movie is a classic in the same way that The Three Stooges movies are philosophical commentaries. How could Henry Fonda have ever wanted to make this movie? He must have been broke or something. Spencer's Mountain should come with one of those FDA warning labels that happy, heartfelt fluff movies may cause diabetes or cause the viewer to become a sociopath.
I found this dvd on sale at Barnes and Noble and bought it last week and just watched it. It's sort of an adequate story but it's full of holes. One scene that drove me nuts was the sister of Clayboy spying on him and that bimbo who is home from college after spending a year developing a warped mind while they were in that library or whatever it was. Anyway, that sister runs all the way home (bare footed as I recall and over rocks) just to rat out her older brother. I don't know why that bugs me so much. Maybe it's because she is a clone of her judgmental mother and cannot wait to give somebody a hard time. It's just a dumb scene. The movie is OK although mediocre, but if I had to spend more than the $4.99 sale price I would be really angry.
Wally Cox plays the only decent character. The others are such stereotyped mannequins that it's painful to sit through this movie. Maureen O'Hara always plays such harsh and self-centered characters. She comes across as ice cold. This just isn't a well put together movie.
- Habitat 67
I wonder why Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara even agreed to do this film. They were doing well and in demand but this movie is so weak and they must have known the script had been badly changed. The whole thing is beneath their abilities. I know this movie paved the way for The Waltons but I always think of Carol Burnett's spoof called "Walnut's Mound." She pays "Momma Woman." When I saw this a few weeks ago on TCM I kept thinking of O'Hara as Momma Woman and Fonda as Poppa Man. I don't know what to think of Clayboy but based on the comments below, his girlfriend/lust interest would be Harlot Girl. Lousy movie.
I agree with OK--this is not an "essential"
If Spencer's Mountain is supposed to spark a US political rant, then maybe it deserves a higher rating in that category, but I agree with a previous post that the film is not all that well made. I think the earlier comments about Clayboy's girlfriend are hilarious and very true. How could a god-fearing family with a mother so self-righteous as Maureen O'Hara's character tolerate a chick like that girlfriend? That girl should be wearing leather and carrying a whip and chains. That mountain mother would have seen that girl as sinful, a vamp, a temptress and nothing more and she would've steered her kid toward anything better than selling his soul to the likes of her. The girlfriend character just doesn't belong in the script. Yes, there are heartwarming scenes but some aren't logical. Here's one: Who builds a house on the top of a roadless, treeless, wind-swept mountain top in the Rockies? Give me a break. I lived in Alberta. Summer is four months long and winter is fifteen. That family would have been snowed in and then found frozen solid when and if spring ever arrived. That is all the result of switching the setting from western Virginia to the US Rockies. The script should have been adjusted but it was not. And while I like Henry Fonda, his character is confusing. The script calls for a hard drinking, rough man and there are hints of that but he melts into a man reduced to begging for money even if his cause is worthy. Again, it doesn't make sense. This is a script problem no more and no less.Maybe some people see the movie as just OK not because there is a problem with the message but because there are problems with the script, the performances and the overall presentation. Americans like political rants but I prefer to evaluate the movie on its merits and not on any form of political agenda. So, Spencer's Mountain is a nice, happy story but it is not an "essential" because it has too many production flaws.
How good does a story and movie have to be? This film is a classic in so many ways. The story itself is one that sadly, is not a common one today. We have less and less of the strong family ties exhibited in this film in the American life today. It was the strong family unit that set the example for the strong national unity that once was The UNITED States of America. We have forgotten at our own peril what Abraham Lincoln said; "United we stand; divided, we fall." I pray we wake up before it is too late.In addition, this film is a classic by our dear departed friend, Robert Osborne's definition. He used to say that one of the ways we could tell a classic film is that we can continue to enjoy the film year after year as though it was the first time we were watching it. Classic films, with classic stories, made in classic ways with classic acting and classic directing will live forever in those folks like us who love and appreciate this never to be seen again, "golden age of film".So, I respectfully disagree with the descriptive category of "ok" for this beautiful film. Thank you TCM. On behalf of all of us who love this film, Thank you. Please keep showing this one and all of them like this one.
There are some good moments in this film but there are flaws that cause problems. Fonda and O'Hara are good and the setting is wonderful. But the entire film centers on James MacArthur's character which is ok but it reduces everyone else to supporting roles. There is also an odd twist on gender roles in the film. Clayboy, MacArthur's character, although a high school graduate, is about as innocent and unaware as a newborn puppy. When the young girl down the road returns home from schooling at some private school, she is nothing less than a nymphomaniac. She is all over Clayboy. She comes across as cheap, selfish and conniving and she has absolutely no awareness of his financial situation, his goals or anything other than her own desires. In short, she just doesn't fit into the film at all and it makes no sense why she is even in the script. The only other young woman is the far too young wife of a man from whom the Spencers hope to obtain a $500 loan for Clayboy's college tuition. But this woman is evil and vindictive and will not allow her husband to assist the Spencers. O'Hara's character later calls this younger woman "a harlot." This leaves us with O'Hara as the mother of so many children that the family could qualify as an emerging new nation and Grandma who has nine adult sons as well. These prolific breeders are both so stereotyped that it's difficult to take them seriously. And for a family than finds $37 to be a small fortune, they live in a remarkably beautiful mountain community, in a charming cabin and own land equal to the size of Rhode Island. And they have enough land to divide equally among those nine brothers. While there are some good moments, the bigger pieces of the puzzle do not fit together very well and this film just is not very well made. I realize it was the spark for the television show, The Waltons," but that show was sometimes so syrupy sweet that it probably triggered the diabetes epidemic in the US.
- kevin sellers
The kind of heartwarming movie that makes you want to scream obscenities at the screen.
Missed the movie, got to see JFK!!
I have seen this movie and was very happy to, however, when I went down to NYC as a child of 12 in grammar school to Radio City Music Hall, we were banned from the Catholic review to see the movie. Instead we took a boat trip to Liberty Island and after arriving back in Battery Park there was a huge crowd gathering. The reason was that JFK was coming through in an open car. With great intuition, I grabbed my pocket mirror out of my purse and held it up over the crowd so I was able to catch a glimpse of JFK. That is my fond memory as a 12 year old!
Much too fanciful!
At first blush, this appears to be a family film and it is a good enough story; however, there is much wrong with this film. It is set in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming but the Hamner family actually lived in Appalachian Virginia. Fonda's character, the father, is a raging alcoholic. There is infidelity and prostitution that would be difficult to explain to a child. A few black actors are in the film, as churchgoers with the white folk, but that wouldn't have occurred in Appalachia. This was a gratuitous gesture that was out of place and uncalled for. Fonda and O'Hara are well cast as the parents but the entire film revolves around James MacArthur who plays the eldest son who wants to go to college. I particularly enjoy seeing Wally Cox as the parson and he gives a really nice performance. On a personal note, it really rankled me to see Fonda hugging and kissing the children in this film when he wouldn't do it with his own kids in real life. I know he was just acting but my knowing how he treated his own children made me cringe when he embraced his film children. Henry Fonda was a great actor but a lousy human being!
Agree with the other reviewers. This is a great movie, heart-warming story, well acted. Fonda is very convincing as the no-nonsense, down-to-earth family patriarch. Great photography too! This was the last movie of Donald Crisp, a great English character actor.
A wonderful movie that does not get enough air time. As everyone knows, orshould know it is the foundation of one of America's best loved shows in the1970's - the Waltons. Has a great cast with Fonda, O'Hara, MacArthur and Dub Taylor! Fonda's line about the Teton's has always stayed with me throughoutmy life. Highly recommended movie for everyone to watch. Great storyline,great acting, moves quickly from frame to frame (scene). Obviously, this isa five star movie.
values and love
- jamie graham
though in this movie he did not become a writerthe values were there and spit fair of pa pa spenceraka john walton i love it because my family is of the same clanfor my sister wife of of the clan name the browns wanted me to be her brother after my mom died my sister was my friend not bloodbut because of love of GOD i became a part of the growing clan of north east missourilong live this movie and its pure values
Fonda and O Hara in A Lovely Film
- David Atkins
Delmer Daves a fine director who made smash hits at WB such as Parrish, and Rome Adventure and made a star of Troy Donahue, switched gears here and made this quiet and lovely film with two professionals Henry Fonda and Maureen O Hara. James MacArthur is also cast. Wonderful old fashioned and welcome film.Kudos to Delmer Daves.PS Daves and O Hara would re united in The Battle of the Villa Fiorita at WB a few years later.
The best family movie!!
I'm pretty sure this is the way life is supposed to be! Not always money but family!! Location and the actor's doesn't get much better than this. My favorite.
ALLTIME GREAT MOVIE
I remember watching this movie when I was a kid, and I'd watch it everytime I could catch it on. Time well spent in front of the tube. This is one of my all-time favorite movies. CLASSIC TWO THUMBS UP.
Absolutely worth the time to watch this movie.
I saw in 1963 and it is one of the finest movies I ever saw.
Fonda and O'Hara
Delightful and sweet