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Spencer's Mountain 1963
Description: Clay Spencer is a hard-working boy who loves his wife and huge family. He is respected by his neighbors and everytime ready to give them a supporting hand. Although not a churchgoer, he even supports a newly arrived local minister regain his flock after he and Clay receive into a bit of trouble. If he has one dream in life it's to build his wife Olivia a pretty house on a piece of land he inherited on Spender's mountain. When his eldest son, Clayboy, graduates at the top of his high school class and has the occasion to go to college, Clay has only one option left to him.
Released: 16 May 1963 Director: Delmer Daves Writers: Earl Hamner Jr. (novel), Delmer Daves Actors: Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara, James MacArthur, Donald Crisp Genres: Drama, Family
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Spencer's Mountain Reviews:

Leonard Maltin calls the movie "mawkish", and he is right on, but it is still nice fun. Mimsy Farmer's Claris is a hoot ("friction, friction, friction!")! Perfect test of the Jackson Hole locations, especially the Triangle X guest ranch, which served as the Spencer homestead and is still in operation here. Two trivia notes: Bronwyn Fitzsimmons, who played the college secretary, is Maureen O'Hara's daughter in true life. According to AMC Magazine, Henry Fonda showed some off-screen interest in her that O'Hara had to squash. Fonda did the movie even though he thought it was so corny it would set U.S. movie-making back 20 years. Also, you have Wally Cox's hero listed as GoodMAN, but the name was now GoodSON. Highly recommended.


Before The Waltons, there was Spencer's Mountain. Based on the autobiographical novel by Earl Hamner, Jr, this heartwarming family drama fathered the beloved TV series and details all its familiar ingredients-poor family with nine kids struggling to create ends meet, rural setting, live-in grandparents, gifted oldest son, mother called Livvie, coming-of-age crises-the list goes on and on. Even the popular (and corny) "good night" ritual debuts here; the names may be various (there's no Mary Ellen, Jason or Jim-Bob), but the indelible long shot-darkened house with one lamp burning in an upstairs window-is framed exactly as it would be on tv nine years later.Along with the similarities, though, come some changes. Instead of Depression-era Appalachia, the Spencers confront their issues in contemporary Wyoming, affording a more dramatic backdrop and the ability to deal with modern mores. And instead of John-Boy, we have Clay-Boy (James MacArthur), the oldest son of Clay Spencer (Henry Fonda) and his wife (Maureen O'Hara). While Clay-Boy is not an aspiring writer like his TV counterpart (and flaunts a decidedly more beefy physique), he does victory top honors in his high school class and harbors a potent desire to attend college and escape his sheltered mountain life. Clay-Boy's efforts to meet the university's academic and financial requirements, as well as Clay Sr.'s burning want to build his dream house, are among the daily problems the Spencers gotta face.Maybe if The Waltons never existed, Spencer's Mountain would better stand the use of time. But so ingrained is The Waltons in our collective conscience, it's hard to divorce Spencer's Mountain from it-and from the elements that have prompted merciless parody over the years. The folksy, homespun attitudes that permeate Delmer Daves' production alternately provoke charmed smiles and withering cringes, usually depending on who is speaking the lines. And while the movie benefits from breathtaking zone shooting in Grand Teton National Park, even the majestic snow-capped peaks can't dilute the sugar coating that drips from many scenes.Unfortunately, the younger actors bear the brunt of the blame. MacArthur tries his best, but often is sabotaged by the annoying Mimsy Farmer (yes, Mimsy) as Clay-Boy's sweetheart Claris, whose hormones rage so ferociously she practically eats Clay-Boy alive during their breathy love scenes. Such frank treatment of blossoming sexuality is commendable, but seems laughably inappropriate in such a family-oriented film, at times transforming Spencer's Mountain into a watered-down ver of A Summer Zone (interestingly enough, also directed by Daves).Fonda and O'Hara, on the another hand, create an ideal couple, acting with an ease and familiarity that gives their relationship a warm, comfortable feel. Fonda especially embodies the uneducated, hard-drinking, heart-of-gold Clay Sr., everytime willing to war and sacrifice so his brood can play a richer, more prosperous life. Without a doubt, Fonda is the soul of Spencer's Mountain, and his natural, beautifully shaded portrayal keeps the movie from descending into a maudlin mess.Despite its shortcomings, Spencer's Mountain is tough to knock. Featuring forthright, salt-of-the-earth characters, timeless family themes and lovely cinematography, it wiggles its method into the heart and, like the noble Spencers, we graciously forgive its faults.


Henry Fonda throughout his career showed a nice flair for testing rustic characters and endowing them with dignity. In fact that was his introduction to movie when he did the film ver of the enjoy that made him a star, The Farmer Takes A Wife. Of course as Fonda started testing more of a tons of roles he was less and less in rustic settings.His last role of this kind was as Clay Spencer in Spencer's Mountain a feel nice family kind picture with a rather interesting take on the facts of life. Country people like the Spencers who deal a lot in livestock are familiar with the breeding process so it's not a large large deal with them. At least it's not in this movie as Mimsy Farmer is ready to finish James MacArthur's eduction in that regard. One of the greatest scenes in the movie is Henry Fonda bringing over his bull to friend with one of Dub Taylor's cows with everybody looking on. I guess they're starved for entertainment in that part of the country.In fact MacArthur's further education is what drives the film. He's the oldest of Fonda's and Maureen O'Hara's nine kids and the first to graduate high school. His teacher Virginia Gregg wants to see him receive ahead and go to the university. But the financial and another obstacles are considerable. Even the fresh minister Wally Cox tutors MacArthur in a required Latin course.If the Spencers bear no tiny resemblance to the Walton family that's because Earl Hammer who created the Waltons also wrote the novel this movie was based on. Spencer's Mountain is beautifully photographed in the Grand Teton mountains of Wyoming, just as cute and more majestic than the Walton's Appalachians. Delmer Daves who directed Spencer's Mountain also directed Jubal a several years earlier, a western also set in the Grand Tetons. The cinematography is just as good, but the resemblance stops there because Jubal is quite the adult western.Spencer's Mountain marked the farewell performance of Donald Crisp who was 81 years old when he filmed this and had a career going back to the earliest silent films. He was a grand hero actor who played an nice tons of parts. Here he's in his family patriarch persona as Fonda's father married to Lillian Bronson in the film. Crisp won his Oscar as the family patriarch in John Ford's How Green Was My Valley.Spencer's Mountain did nice box office and it's a great family film. But Henry Fonda's fresh agent passed on a Broadway enjoy named Who's Scared Of Virginia Woolf and signed his client for this. Fonda never forgave the agent, I can't really blame him.



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