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:
RACHEL AND THE STRANGER
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..~
~ 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..
~ 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..
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..
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.. ~
... the singing voice of Robert Mitchum.
- 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.