Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
God's Little Acre(1958)
A poor farmer is obsessed with finding gold on his land supposedly buried by his grandfather. To find it he conveniently moves a marker out of his way that designates the land on which it rests as as God's Little Acre, where anything that comes from the ground will go to God's work. Eventually he abducts an albino to help him find the gold. Meanwhile, his daughter-in-law is suspected of fooling around with a labor activist out of work since the mill closed, and a local political hopeful actively seeks his daughter's hand in marriage.
For more about God's Little Acre and the God's Little Acre Blu-ray release, see God's Little Acre Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on August 1, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Robert Ryan, Aldo Ray, Buddy Hackett, Jack Lord, Vic Morrow, Helen Westcott
Director: Anthony Mann
» See full cast & crew
God's Little Acre Blu-ray Review
A moveable feast.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, August 1, 2013
Doesn't it seem odd that a multimillionaire (if not outright billionaire) like Thurston Howell III and a major film star like Ginger Grant would have deigned to have taken a mere charter three hour tour that turned into a three year stay on Gilligan's Island? One would think people of their means might have been able to afford a more luxurious outing, but of course that would have deprived untold hordes of people from enjoying the various cartoon-like antics of these eccentric characters. The unlikelihood of these sorts of people being stuck on an island probably seemed more than a bit ironic to at least one of the performers assigned to play a role on the series. Tina Louise, who played Grant, is on record as stating that Gilligan's Island more or less ended her career, typecasting her as a glamorous but empty headed sex siren and making any other kind of role difficult for producers or casting agents to imagine her in, leaving her figuratively stuck on an island of only intermittent employment. It's kind of sad, really, for Louise's pre-Gilligan work is rather impressive, none more so than her feature film debut in the once hugely controversial God's Little Acre. There's no point denying that Louise is a sexpot in this film as well, but she delivers an unusually nuanced and provocative performance that proves that Louise was much more than just another pretty face. It took a rather remarkable 25 years for Erskine Caldwell's best-selling novel to be transferred to the screen, perhaps due to the fact that the book appeared in 1933, at just about the same time that the Hays Office had firmly entrenched itself as the moral arbiter of what could be portrayed on the screen. God's Little Acre was absolutely rife with sexual innuendo (and outright declamations), as well as a workers' rights subplot that was probably a bit more relevant in the Depression Era thirties than in the relatively complacent and comfortable late fifties, when the film debuted. Caldwell did some interesting things structurally in his novel which the film couldn't mimic, including changes in point of view and actual different narrators, but Anthony Mann's movie version does ape something that's inherent in Caldwell's tome, namely a rather fascinating tonal evolution from quasi-comedy, even outright farce, to something decidedly more dramatic and tragic.
To describe the characters in God's Little Acre as merely "colorful" does not do them full justice, and in fact is somewhat akin to calling the characters in Gilligan's Island merely "eccentric". The paterfamilias of the Walden family is the oddly named Ty Ty (Robert Ryan), a supposed farmer who hasn't been behind a plow for decades and instead spends every waking hour digging up his property because he's convinced gold is buried on it somewhere. Ty Ty is father to two moody sons, Buck (Jack Lord) and Shaw (Vic Morrow). Buck is married to the unbelievably alluring Griselda (Tina Louise), though he never lets Griselda forget the fact that once she carried the torch for Will Thompson (Aldo Ray), who is married to elder Walden daughter Rosamund (Helen Westcott). Younger Walden daughter Darlin' Jill (Fay Spain) is being pursued by the farcically rotund Pluto Swint (Buddy Hackett), who has dreams of becoming Sheriff of the local burg. Just the names alone are probably enough to indicate we're dealing with a somewhat exaggerated "reality", though God's Little Acre never devolves into self-parody and instead maintains a rather delicately balanced tightrope act that is weirdly comic at times but also has an almost palpably Freudian subtext most of the time.
There are twin plot lines running through God's Little Acre. One is the personal interrelationships between the Waldens and their various hangers-on. But there's also a political angle with regard to a local textile mill that has been shut down, leaving pretty much all of the town destitute. These two parallel lines meet in the film's climax, though the film does not really emphasize the more screed like elements of Caldwell's book, despite the fact that film was actually written by blacklisted Ben Maddow, who one would assume would perhaps be more interested in the proletarian side of the story than the roiling dysfunctions of the various family members.
The film has a rather ripe sexuality running rampant through it, as best exemplified by both Griselda and Darlin' Jill. An early scene has Darlin' Jill in an outdoor tub willfully teasing Pluto, making the poor schlub stumble up to her with his eyes closed and then use the well pump to cool her down. Pluto of course takes a little peek, but soon gets his comeuppance. Griselda's sexuality seems to be more linked to her emotions, for she is indeed still carrying a torch for Will, a torch that briefly erupts into flames at the climactic scene at the end of the film when Will decides to break into the textile mill and turn the power back on.
God's Little Acre makes some obvious but salient points about "husbandry" in all of its forms. Ty Ty neglects his fertile land to pursue an empty dream, going so far as to capture and imprison an albino (a young Michael Landon, believe it or not) whom he believes can "skry" where the gold is hidden with a divining rod. Ty Ty also has no qualms about continually moving the acre of his property he has promised to the church whenever he thinks the elusive gold may be on that particular parcel. The more contemporary meaning of being a husband is also explored in the characters of Buck and Will. Will is simply a ladies' man, pure and simple, but Buck is a somewhat more complex character, one who has let years of resentment build a wall between him and his wife. Will's fate is the more cut and dried, but the film makes a rather inartful transition to domestic bliss between Buck and Griselda in its closing moments.
In hindsight, the film is an incredible actors' piece which allows a gaggle of future stars probably best remembered (rightly or wrongly) for their television appearances to really stretch their wings. Those who are only familiar with Louise in Gilligan's Island, Lord in Hawaii Five-O, Morrow in Combat!, or Hackett in his stand up appearances might be a little shocked at the visceral impact of their performances in this film. Robert Ryan is also excellent, running around screaming "what in the pluperfect hell" every time something untoward happens. God's Little Acre is a bit on the turgid side at times, but it also has a steamy, fetid ambience that plays rather like an overheated Tennessee Williams play seen just slightly through the prism of a farceur like Molière. That may sound like an unappealing casserole, but it's actually unusually satisfying.
God's Little Acre Blu-ray, Video Quality
God's Little Acre is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Olive Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. This film was lensed by the legendary Ernest Haller, whose work comes through very well in this new high definition presentation. Evidently UCLA restored God's Little Acre a few years ago, but I doubt this was sourced from that restoration, as there is no credit given, and furthermore, Olive chose not to use the existing UCLA restoration of The Quiet Man when they released that title on Blu-ray. While there are typical age related issues here, mostly light speckling and the like, the elements are in surprisingly good shape. Contrast is quite strong, though very slightly variable at times, especially as the film transitions from indoors to outdoors. Gray scale is extremely well modulated and the film has well above average shadow detail, especially important since Haller favors a dusky ambience at key moments in the film. Fine detail is quite commendable in close-ups. While some midrange shots seem a little on the soft side, overall the film offers a nicely crisp presentation.
God's Little Acre Blu-ray, Audio Quality
God's Little Acre's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track supports the film's dialogue and nice Elmer Bernstein score very well, with no damage or dropouts to report. Fidelity is excellent and dynamic range is fairly wide, mostly due to some of the hyperbolic moments between the various Walden family members.
God's Little Acre Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
No supplements are offered on this Blu-ray.
God's Little Acre Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
God's Little Acre was marketed as "lusty", and that's probably as good an adjective as any to describe its overall ambience. The film is both remarkably nuanced and also almost cartoonishly overblown at times. Rather incredibly, those two elements don't really fight each other, but blend together surprisingly well. Those who only know several of these actors from their television days are going to be in for some major surprises. This Blu-ray offers excellent video and audio and comes Recommended.
Use the thumbs up and thumbs down icons to agree or disagree that the title is similar to God's Little Acre. You can also suggest completely new similar titles to God's Little Acre in the search box below.
Similar titles suggested by members
God's Little Acre Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Olive Films to Release Anthony Mann's God's Little Acre Blu-ray - May 30, 2013
Olive Films have revealed that they are planning to release on Blu-ray director Anthony Mann's God's Little Acre (1958), starring Tina Louise, Robert Ryan, Aldo Ray, and Buddy Hackett. The release will arrive on the market in July.
God's Little Acre Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to God's Little Acre Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2014 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.