Friendly Persuasion

Director: William Wyler

Cast: Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, Anthony Perkins, Richard Eyer, Robert Middleton, Phyllis Love, Mark Richman, Walter Catlett, Richard Hale, Marjorie Main, Edna Skinner, Marjorie Durant, Theodore Newton, Joel Fluellen, John Smith, Frances Farwell, James Seay, John Pickard, John Compton, Richard Garland, Doug McClure, Norman Leavitt, Don Kennedy, Nelson Leigh, Frank Jenks, Earle Hodgins, Charles Halton, Everett Glass, John Craven, Chuck Courtney

Little Jess Birdwell (Eyer) has an encounter with Samantha, a cantankerous goose, on a farm in southern Indiana in 1862. The boy and the wily bird take turns bedeviling each other. Jess Birdwell (Cooper), his wife Eliza (McGuire), his teenage daughter Martha (Love), and his ten year old son Little Jess, set out in their surrey on the way to the Quaker Meeting House. Jessí teenage son, Josh (Perkins) rides out on his horse on his way to Sunday Meeting. Along the way, Jessí carriage passes by a stone bridge. A horse-drawn buggy crosses the bridge and, gaining speed, falls in behind Jess. Sam Jordan (Middleton) and his son Gardner (Richman), on their way to the Methodist church, greet the Birdwells as their buggy draws beside Jessí carriage. Then Sam whips up his horse and moves ahead. Jess dreams of beating Sam in their weekly race, but his horse, Red Rover, cannot keep up with Samís horse, Prince. The Quakers sit quietly in their Meeting House, males and females separately, while on the adjoining church the Methodists sing hymns. Major Harvey (Newton) walks in during the meeting and is greeted by Eliza, who is a Quaker minister. His superiors have given Major Harvey the task of speaking to the Quakers about the war. He tells them the war has been going on for two years and asks the men to join the Union Army. The War Between the States has divided the Quaker community. Several men in the congregation want to fight against the Rebels, but others are, like Jess, committed to pacifism. When Major Harvey asks Josh if heís afraid to fight, Josh says he does not know. Gardner, an officer in the Union Army, visits the Birdwell farm. Heís subtly courting Martha, who tries to act as a proper Quaker girl while feelings of love and yearning grow in her heart. At the county fair, the Birdwells mingle with people from a world outside their own. Jess is approached by Prof. Waldo Quigley (Catlett), an organ salesman who tells the musically-inclined Jess that an organ purchase will enrich his life, despite music in the home being against Quaker teachings. Jess and Josh go on a trip to sell farm products. They stop at Widow Hudspethís (Main) farmhouse. The widowís three young daughters, Pearl (Durant), Ruby (Farwell), and Opal (Skinner), have not seen a male face in months, all the men having gone to war. They are intensely interested in Josh. Jess learns that the widow has a mare that wonít be passed, and trades Red Rover for the faster Lady. The first Sunday after returning home, when Samís buggy tries to pass Jessís carriage on the way to worship, Lady proves herself by staying ahead, embarrassing Eliza and frustrating Sam, but filling Jess with joy. The delivery of Jessí organ to his farmhouse triggers a family crisis, when Eliza refuses to accept an instrument of music in her home. Eliza will not stay in the house with the organ and moves to the barn. Jess takes some blankets to her and ends up staying with her overnight. In a bed of hay, a compromise is reached. The organ stays, but is confined to the attic. Amid rumors of Confederate raids, Gardner proposes to Martha, and she must decide whether to be coy or accept the love she yearns for. News of an impending attack by a detachment of Confederate cavalrymen from General John Hunt Morganís brigade arrive at the Birdwell home in a way that cannot be ignored. When war crosses the Ohio River and reaches their valley, Josh and Jess must decide whether to take up arms against the raiders or hold true to Quaker principles of non-violence. Pat Boone sings the title song. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin. Based on the book of the same name by Jessamyn West.

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