September 21, 2010 / Filmwell
“Get low. I don’t even know what that means. I guess it means to get low for Jesus before it’s time. Keep above the ground before you go below the ground.”
Fans of the moody supernatural thrillers Jacques Tourneur lensed for Val Lewton in the forties or his noir masterpiece Out Of The Past may find little appeal in this sunny, easy-going tale of a small town parson set just after the American Civil War. But of the twenty-nine feature films he directed between 1939 and 1965, this is the one he fought to do. One wonders if he may have felt an affinity with the story’s central character, the transcendently decent Reverend Josiah Gray – prefiguring perhaps the greatest portrayal of small-town integrity to be found in American literature and film.