Saturday, 19 November 2011

“Wives don’t grow on trees – at least not on the trees around here..”

Some films are based on stories which first appeared in magazines..

The short story the film I will be talking about in a second was first released in THE SATURDAY EVENING POST from June 14, 1941 - I wanted to share this wonderful cover.

The short story was RACHEL by Howard Fast. Waldo Salt adapted it for the big screen where it should be aired as one of the few films showing the female part in "pioneering the west" - and RKO's biggest success in 1948:


Let's have a look on some film posters:

~ obviously a variation of poster #1 above ~

~ this looks a bit creepy, doesn't it?:

"The man who bought her... - the tall, dark stranger who sought her!" ~

~ The Italian poster IL VAGABONDO DELLA FORESTA (="The vagabond of the forrests") is pretty dark, too..~

~ I just love this design.. It's a bit kitchy.. but still..~

~ ah! the German poster.. Germans.. frequently cuddling.. a nation of teddy bears.. ...~

The German titles are EHE OHNE LIEBE (= Marriage without love) and SKLAVIN DER WILDNIS (=[female] Slave of wilderness) - sometimes titles were changed for Television release later..

I simply have to show you the cover of the German DVD release - which seems to advertise another film:

~ there is no hanging in this film (in case you noticed that..) and that kind of female/male struggle isn't seen in this film either.. As you see it's approved for 12 year old and older viewers - hence the button in the corner down left.. I would have approved it for younger children also.. But who am I to decide? ~

In a nutshell:

Somewhere in Ohio during the pioneer days: The farmer "Big David" harvey (William Holden) has lost his wife Susan - his son Davey (Gary Gray) isn't too avid to improve his studies and rather goes out fishing - or builds boats out of pages from his textbooks..

~ ah.. the free life men (William Holden and Gary Gray) can live in the woods.. ~

The cabin doesn't look that neat anymore, too.. Obviously a woman is needed to raise the boy properly and care about the cabin..

So father and son take a trip to the next settlement. There David pays 25 Dollars ("18 now and 4 in the fall") for Rachel (Loretta Young). But because "decent men and women don't live with each other under the same roof without being married" he has to take Rachel for his "lawful wedded wife". After that they return with Davey to the cabin - where Rachel makes herself more and more irreplacable..

~ Davey - no real fan of Rachel (Loretta Young).. nor books.. ~

Then Big David's happy-go-lucky friend Jim Fairways (Robert Mitchum) arrives, who shows lot more interest in Rachel than David did - well.. until now..

~ two and a half men - and a horse.. ~


  • Author Waldo Salt also wrote the script for MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969) - he was blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

  • Some sources say that the release was hurried because Robert Mitchum was about to spend some time in prison for using marijuana.

  • Loretta Young's cosstumes were designed by Edith Head.

  • In the German version which was relased in 1949 the part of Rachel is re-named into "Agnes" and Davey's dog "Pistol" became "Polly" - the German translation of "Pistol" wouldn't have worked as a name for a dog, I guess. Also the Shawnee became Sioux for they were apparently better known in Germany than the Shawnee.
  • Loretta Young was kind of famous for having a "swear jar" at the sets where she was working in which everyone who swore had to put in 25 Cent. Allegedly Robert Mitchum - who hold back during the filming - at the end of the production put on a big smile and dropped 20 dollars into the jar: "This should just about cover everything I've been wanting to say to Loretta."

    ~ Robert Mitchum looks like he has something to say for what he will have to pay later.. ~

Claws and Paws:

~ from now on I will feature the animals of the films I am talking about - and hope to find a picture for every film.. ~

Of course one can spot some horses in this film - and a good number of other farm animals. There also is a mountain cat - shot by Rachel to defend her new home and family - and you will spot some bears.

For those of you who are fond of dogs: Big David and Davey live together with several dogs.. These dogs are everywhere: They are going swimming and fishing with Davey and of course will sit with him at the table - especially Pistol in that..

When William Holden and Robert Mitchum are washing themselves at a water barrel - the dogs are there, too - drinking from that very same water - which I find kind of cute..

~ Davey and Pistol - real pals. ~

You should watch this film if you are a fan of...

... low bugdet western.

... Robert Mitchum, William Holden, Gary Gray or Loretta Young.

... "young man is jealous but isn't aware of that because he isn't sure about his feelings" plots.

... the singing voice of Robert Mitchum.

Let's face the music:
  • The songs (around 6 songs) were written by Roy Webb - with lyrics by Waldo Salt.

  • Robert Mitchum and Gary Gray recorded an album of those songs together.

Let's listen:

Quotes Corner:

"The only reason Susan came out was to bring me my meal."

Between the lines you might notice that Rachel and David try to settle how far the job of Rachel actually will go.. I am not sure wether David is naive - or just don't want to talk about that.. Either way it's kind of funny to watch them doing these kind of dialogues..

Most of the dialogues are filled with innuendo about the situation. - Though this contains no real sexy dialogues in a Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall/film noir style.. Rachel, David and Jim trying to find out who stands where. The only one who tells all the time what he thinks is Davey.. Of course in the end even the adults get straight about what they want.

"You are losing you laundry, Mr. Fairways."

~ honestly: if I was looking at these shoulders - I would lose my laundry, too.. ~

Of course this storyline has been seen for several times: single father looks out for a woman to take care of his kid - finds nice female but isn't interested in her - other male arrives - father suddenly becomes aware that he loves woman. There is nothing surprising in that plot - for those who didn't just start watching films. Well - let's be honest: It's a classic plot - one that worked before we were born (no matter how old we are now) and will still work when we will be gone to dust.. The twist here is that this story is set in "western wilderness". All are working hard to survive. And there are the threatening Shawnees..
There are also some nice little additions: e.g. Rachel - who isn't able to shot properly - secretly trains her shooting skills in the cellar.

This film is a very cute little film - and I might say that a film with Robert Mitchum AND William Holden would have troubles being "unwatchable". Loretta Young seems - like always - to be all big eyes and that velvet voice. A marvellously casted film - which might be not known by many but sure deserves a chance - whether you like it or not is - as always - up to you. The singing cowboy Robert Mitchum and the envious farmer William Holden are for sure worth a look.. (or two..) especially when they start actually fighting about... well, you surely can guess, what they fight about... or whom?? - and Loretta Young isn't a cause either to shadow your eyes.. The whole movie is pure entertainment.

.. and those of you who now fear this is too much of a "kissy" film - there's a quite exciting show down with the Shawnee (not of a major western quality - but fair enough..)

For sure a western one could watch with the whole family..

~ I think this picture shows the story line best.. ~

Thank you all for listening!


(Very well and) truly



  1. I totally adore this movie. Just watched it for about the 5th time last part of my William Holden 30 year death anniversary observance.

  2. Wow, what an awesome post Irene! Very well done. And I can't wait to watch it. Someday soon. hopefully TCM will be showing it again soon.

  3. Great post, Irene. I must say - I am always envious of Loretta in this film. Why does SHE get to have William Holden AND Robert Mitchum?? (luck gal).

  4. I like this film very much too, Patti.

    Thank you, Monty. Hope you'll enjoy it! I don't know if this term excists but I would consider this film a "family western".. ;")

    Thank you, FlickChick - I can sure understand that feeling.. ;")

  5. Love this post and the movie! I really enjoyed all the movie posters you found, and, of course, all the delightful pictures and trivia notes. The movie poster you noted as really liking the design I really like as well. I'd love to put that one on my wall!

  6. An amazing review to amazing classic movie. Loretta, is one lucky girl..

  7. DKoren - the posters are one of my favourite parts of this reviews.. It's always interesting where the artists put their highlights on a film.. I can imagine this picture we both like would look great at a wall.. Glad that you enjoyed my review! Thank you so much for that!

    Aww.. Thank you, Dawn! Yes, she is..

  8. The film posters are gorgeous. Somehow these women lost their laundry so much more elegantly ;)
    Wasn't Robert Michum a naughty boy then?

  9. Back then everything was so classy, wasn't it? ;")

    Robert Mitchum for sure was, Kate.. Don't you love that, too?? ;")


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")