Dec 18, 2010

Our Vines Have Tender Grapes

“Cold outside. I met Sis in Parnell and we talked to Earl. When I just stepped in the house, the phone rang and it was Herb. So we went to the Southtown and then to Parnell.”

Playing at the Southtown on that cold December day (Chicago's 14th coldest December ever) was Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, the story of a Norwegian farmer (Edward G. Robinson) raising his daughter Selma (Margaret O'Brien of Meet Me In St. Louis) in rural Wisconsin. I remember my mother talking about this film several times when I was growing up.

I haven't seen it since then, but because it was such a favorite of hers, I know it must have made a big impression. Besides maybe identifying with the midwest location and O'Brien's characther, another factor might have been the father, Martinus Jacobson. If a director was going to cast the part of Dot's father Louis, he couldn't do much better than to choose Robinson. Both were of that same, stocky physical stature, and both had a sort of gruff, no-nonsense exterior yet were soft-hearted and tender as a grape on the inside. Perhaps Dot saw this too.

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