When poor southerner Sam Tucker (Zachary Scott) sees his uncle die in the cotton fields, he knows his time as a hired hand is through.
Packing up his wife, children and their ornery grandmother (Beulah Bondi), he vows to succeed as a farmer and escape the cycle of poverty and anonymity—though the entire world seems set against his family’s survival.
In the hands of director Jean Renoir (Rules of the Game, Grand Illusion) and an uncredited scripting assist from William Faulkner, this episodic tale of rural life becomes a mythic and heart-breaking epic. From the relative merits of possum dinner to the unrestrained joy of a community dance and the danger of a near-Biblical flood, The Southerner shows us an America so far removed from city life it almost feels like fantasy, but with an emotional realism far ahead of its time.
Host Elliott Kalan and Aasif Mandvi will discuss the Renoir’s French view of America, the left-wing politics of '40s farm movies and whether they’d ever eat possum.
Director: Jean Renoir. 92 min. 1945. 35mm.
Part of the series Closely Watched Films.
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