Woman Obsessed


1h 42m 1959

Brief Synopsis

After her husband dies in a fire, a woman is left to tend for her young son and the family farm on her own. Soon, she takes in a drifting handyman, they fall in love, and a resentment begins to build between the son and his new "step-father" who treats the boy harshly on purpose to prepare him for

Film Details

Also Known As
The Snow Birch
Release Date
May 1959
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 May 1959
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Big Bear, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Snow Birch by John Mantley (New York, 1958).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Young Robbie Sharron, a sensitive boy with an abiding love of animals, resides on his family farm in the Canadian woods with his mother Mary and father Tom. One day, a threatening cloud signifying fire appears on the horizon, sending the animals scampering to safety. Tom joins his compatriots to save the blazing forest, but when he dies in the conflagration, Mary is left to run the farm by herself. Grieving and overwhelmed by responsibility, Mary places an ad in the paper for a farm hand. Her ad is answered by Fred Carter, a taciturn, itinerent laborer, who offers to help until Mary can find a permanent manager. Robbie takes an instant dislike to the stern, unsmiling Fred, and one day, Mary visits Dr. and Mrs. Gibbs in town to inquire about her new employee. Mrs. Gibbs disapproves of Fred, whose wife died six years earlier when their house caught fire. Winter comes, and Mary drives into town to buy shirts for Fred and some frilly fabric to make herself a dress. At the general store, clerk Mayme Radzevitch, one of Fred's many girl friends, makes a snide remark about Mary abandoning her widow's weeds. As Mary and Robbie drive home, a raging blizzard hits and the horse pulling their wagon bolts. The horse runs back to the farm, alerting Fred, who then trudges through knee-deep snow, calling for Mary. Upon finding Mary and Robbie unconscious and buried in the snow, Fred carries them home and puts them to bed. The incident creates a new closeness, and Fred offers to take the family to a carnival. There, Fred confides to Mary that he never attended a carnival as a child, and in fact, was the son of an abusive father and ran away with his younger brother before finishing high school. Soon after, Fred learns that the town is gossiping about his living at the farm, and starts to propose to Mary. Mary, panicked and fearful of betraying her late husband, stops him, and Fred, feeling rejected, angrily smashes the barn door. Later, Mary reconsiders and asks Robbie's permission to marry Fred, and after the boy gives her his blessings, Mary goes to the barn and accepts Fred's proposal. When Robbie sees his mother kiss Fred during their wedding ceremony, however, he becomes sullen and jealous. Trying to bond with the boy, Fred offers to buy him a hunting rifle, but when Robbie rejects his offer, Fred lashes out at him. One night, a deer is attacked by a mountain lion, and Robbie watches in horror as Fred shoots down the injured animal. Fred then forces the boy to witness him skinning the deer, and Robbie screams and faints in shock. Drawn by the sound of her son's distress, Mary cradles the boy in her arms and carries him off in a fury. When Fred insists that Robbie is just a coward and is faking his illness, Mary slaps him and he retaliates with a powerful blow that sends her reeling to the floor. Later, Dr. Gibbs comes to question Fred about his treatment of Robbie. When Fred charges the boy with cowardice and states that he reminds him of another coward, the doctor wonders what caused Fred to become so bitter. That night, Fred tries to reconcile with Mary and asserts that what he did was for the boy's own good. When Mary slams the bedroom door in his face, Fred, furious, breaks it down and rapes her. The next morning, Fred tries to apologize, but Mary retorts that she will never forgive him for filling her son with fear and hate. After Mary refuses to speak to Fred again, he storms out of the house. Later, the doctor comes for a visit and Mary confides that she is pregnant with Fred's unwanted baby. In town, Fred incites a fight, and after slamming his opponent to the floor, is arrested and jailed. After his release, a contrite Fred returns to the farm and promises to leave after harvesting the crops. As a storm brews, Robbie runs out into the woods and is caught in the downpour. Worried about her son, Mary runs out into the rain looking for him and collapses in pain. Hearing her cries, Fred comes to her rescue, and she tells him she has suffered a miscarriage. In the squalling storm, Fred carries Mary six miles to the doctor's house and then collapses. When Fred regains consciousness, Dr. Gibbs tells him that Mary has survived and then assures him that Robbie's behavior is that of a normal boy and not a coward. Promising to find the missing Robbie, Fred braves the raging river to reach the farm. As Fred risks his life to find her son, Dr. Gibbs chastises Mary for failing to try to understand her husband. The doctor then explains that Fred despises cowardice because his brother, who could not stand the sight of blood, left Fred's bloodied wife to perish in their house fire. After crossing the river, Fred finds Robbie, but the boy runs from him and tricks him into falling into a pit of quicksand. As Fred sinks into the slime, Robbie extends a log and begs Fred to try to pull himself to safety. Robbie's concern inspires the defeated Fred, who drags himself onto solid land and then hugs the boy. When Mary returns to the farm, Fred is reluctant to face her. After Mary seeks Fred out, he promises he will never stop loving her, and after she swears that she really wanted his baby, they embrace.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Snow Birch
Release Date
May 1959
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 May 1959
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Big Bear, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Snow Birch by John Mantley (New York, 1958).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was The Snow Birch. Although the picture was filmed in color, the print viewed was in black and white. According to Hollywood Reporter production charts, filming began in late December 1958, but was then suspended until early January 1959. Although a January 1959 Hollywood Reporter production chart places Joanna Heyes in the cast, her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Leon Shamroy replaced William Mellor as photographer after it was discovered that Mellor was suffering from a brain tumor, according to a March 1959 Daily Variety news item. Studio publicity contained in the film's production files at the AMPAS Library notes that some scenes were shot at Big Bear, CA.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1959

CinemaScope

Released in United States 1959