Films, Books, Musings-With the Glamour of Old Hollywood and the Flair of the Retro

This Earth is Mine- A Movie Review

In Movies on September 8, 2012 at 12:06 pm

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Universal International Pictures. 1959. Technicolour.

When This Earth is Mine was released in 1959 it recieved poor reviews, but I go into a movie like this knowing it is a melodrama and prepared for some of the corny dialogue and over-emotional acting and just appreciate the soapiness, the frothy wardrobe and the lush sets and scenery.

Claude Rains plays Phillipe Rambeau, patriarch of the Rambeau family, who as a poverty stricken youth, came to America from France and began growing grapes to make wine for the church. He created a life of wealth for him and his family that was threatened by prohibiton and his refusal to break the law and sell to bootleggers. He has a spiritual connection to his vineyards and the grape, and is given some of the best monologues in the film. Look out for this speech given at a family celebration early on in the film;

” The grape is the living proof of the existence of God, because it is a fruit the God created complete and which knows what it was created for and knows what to do, it will turn itself into wine….From the infancy of the world wine has been the symbol of man’s communion with God…the first miracle of our Blessed Saviour was performed at a wedding when he turned the water in wine to bless the union of a happy couple.”

The wedding Phillip hints at is the arranged marriage of two branches of the family in order to consolidate the familys’ wine holdings. Elizabeth (Jean Simmons) is unaware that she is expected to become a bride when she arrives at the Rambeau estate in California from England, and another cousin John Rambeau (Rock Hudson) has other ideas for Elizabeths’ future.

Rock Hudson had made a name for himself in previous melodramas such as Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows (see my review here) He is expert at playing the family outcast with a chip on his shoulder. A rake, playing with womens’ affections and resorting to corruption and brutality for financial gains. His invalid mother says,
“you are at war with yourself. The best qualities in you, the wonderful things, I sometimes think you wont let grow…”

Phillipe’s daughter, Martha played by Dorothy McGuire has a poignant role, as the bitter and miserable outcome of Phillipe Rambeau’s focus on building a dynasty rather than a functional family.

The screenplay for the film, based on the novel The Cup and the Sword by American novelist Alice Tisdale Hobart. It was filmed in Napa Valley California, with real vineyard workers used as extras. The costume design by Bill Thomas looks to me to be very much of the time the film was made (1959) and not the time in which the film was set(1931), but I do love the luxury and glamour of a 1950’s frock.

This Earth is Mine has not been officially released on DVD, but collectors editions are available at the links below or you can view it when it is aired on TCM.

Buy it here
Classic Movie Reel
Ioffer.com
Ebay.com

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