Tess of the Storm Country


1h 35m 1960

Brief Synopsis

Fourth reworking of the classic Grace Miller White novel, this time updated to the 60s, with young Scottish lassie Tess (Diane Baker) becoming embroiled in a conflict about a toxic chemical plant near her new home in Pennsylvania.

Film Details

Release Date
Dec 1960
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Associated Producers, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Sonora, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Tess of the Storm Country by Grace Miller White (New York, 1909) and her play of the same name (production undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In a small rural town, a feud simmers between farmer Fred Thorson and the Graveses, the Mennonite family who sold their mill to the Foley chemical company that is now contaminating the river with toxic wastes. When Tess MacLean, accompanied by her uncle, Capt. Hamish MacLean, arrives from Scotland to marry John Faulkner, a local farmer who was killed while trying to sabotage the chemical plant, Peter Graves, the son of the Mennonite family, hurries to meet Tess's bus to tell her that his family was not responsible for John's death. Fred's veterinarian son Eric, who was a close friend of John, also comes to the bus stop to inform the unwitting Tess of her fiancé's death. When Eric accuses Peter's father of causing John's demise, Tess scornfully observes that Peter looks like an undertaker and then drives off with Eric. At the Faulkner farm, Eric explains that he withheld the news of his friend's death because John desperately wanted Tess to come to America and has willed the farm to her. With Eric's help, Tess decides to farm the land, but is appalled to learn that the plant's chemical waste has been poisoning the livestock. When Peter and his father bring the MacLeans a home-baked pie as a peace offering, Tess shows her contempt by feeding it to the pigs. Mike Foley, the manager of his father's factory, is in love with Peter's sister Teola, but when he proclaims his feelings to her, Teola, who dreams of wearing colorful clothes and divesting herself of the drab Mennonite life, runs away from him. As Eric helps Tess with the rudiments of farm management, her uncle encourages him to court his niece. One day, one of Tess's newborn calves dies from poisoning, and Tess, taking her anger out on Peter, challenges him to close down the mill. When Peter voices his belief in nonviolence, Tess lashes out at him. Realizing that they can drive the plant out of business by damming the river that runs through the Graveses' land, Fred petitions Graves for permission to build a dam, but Graves refuses, claiming that only the government can grant permission. Later, Teola and Mike enjoy a romantic tryst in the woods, causing Teola shame for betraying her father. As a gesture of conciliation, the Graveses invite the MacLeans to dinner, and Teola and Tess forge a bond of friendship. When Tess comments on the strange customs of the Mennonites, such as refusing to ride in a car, Peter states that he has found an inner peace and feels no need to conform to the outside world. Dinner comes to an abrupt end when Fred arrives with the news that his prize Angus steer has fallen ill and vows revenge if the animal dies. Later, Eric goes to ask Foley to shut down the plant, and when he declines, Eric, defeated, gets drunk. While inebriated, Eric kisses Tess, who kicks him for being too forward. One day, Tess rides her bike to the river that crosses the Graveses' land. When an aggressive bull charges at her, Peter jumps on his horse and comes to her rescue, and Tess then admits that she has come to respect him and kisses him for saving her life. Upon returning home, Tess finds a troubled Teola seated on her doorstep. Declaring that she wishes she were dead, Teola confides that she has fallen in love with Mike. After comforting Teola, Tess summons Mike, who suggests that they elope immediately. After accepting Mike's proposal, Teola gives Tess a letter to deliver to her father, informing him of her decision to marry, and then drives off with Mike. After Fred's prize bull dies, he and MacLean plot to blow up the plant in revenge. When Tess sees them paddling down river in a boat, she follows. Soon after, Peter finds Tess's abandoned bike by the river bed and runs along after her. Tess arrives at the plant just after Fred has tossed a bomb inside, and as it explodes, the guards spot Tess. Running to Tess's side, Peter helps her into the boat and then accepts responsibility for the explosion. After Peter is arrested, Tess, determined to enlist Foley in his cause, informs the mill owner that his son has married Peter's sister, and thus he has a family obligation to exonerate Peter. Tess then visits Peter in jail and after exclaiming that he is the most wonderful man she knows, kisses him. They are embracing when Eric, MacLean and Foley arrive, and Foley lies that the explosion was caused by a faulty steam boiler, thus absolving Peter. Once freed, Peter asks MacLean for Tess's hand in marriage, and MacLean consents but refuses to attend the wedding when he learns that it is to be held at the Mennonite church and that Tess has pledged to live the life of a Mennonite wife. As Tess and Peter repeat their vows, MacLean and Fred peer through the church window. When the newlyweds step outside, MacLean relents and offers them his blessing.

Film Details

Release Date
Dec 1960
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Associated Producers, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Sonora, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Tess of the Storm Country by Grace Miller White (New York, 1909) and her play of the same name (production undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A September 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Paul Henreid and Jeff Hayden were slated to direct this film. Although onscreen credits read "introducing Jack Ging," he did not make his debut in the picture. The Variety review notes that location shooting took place around Sonora, CA. For other films based on Grace Miller White's novel, please see entry for Tess of the Storm Country in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40.