(1958)3Craig ButlerIn its time, God's Little Acre was a notorious adaptation of a scandalous novel. Seen today, its notoriety seems overblown, although it does maintain an effective degree of sultriness and eroticism. Acre would probably be an even better film if it hadn't been forced to tone down the sexual quotient, but even had this been the case, it would still have been an uneven film. This is largely due to the source material, which was itself an uneven blend of comedy and drama; in adapting it for the screen, the creators have not found a way to meld these tones, causing Acre to be a bit schizophrenic. That said, the comedy is often genuinely amusing, and the drama, if overwrought and melodramatic, is still often quite affecting. Credit goes largely to its very fine cast, many of whom give performances that will surprise viewers who know them only from their later television work. This is especially true of Tina Louise, whose Griselda has all the sex appeal of Ginger Grant but is a much more rounded and realistic character. Louise attacks Griselda head on; this is a character for whom sex is a necessity, rather than just a ploy, someone who both cherishes and regrets her sensuality, and Louise reveals much greater depth than she would subsequently be allowed to. Jack Lord is also surprisingly intense, a fierce presence at times, and even Buddy Hackett manages to be a character rather than simply "Buddy Hackett." Aldo Ray is impressively macho. But it's Robert Ryan who holds the film together, with a well-modulated turn that shows just how good the actor could be when given a chance. On the whole, God's Little Acre is a good-but-not-great film, but it does provide the cast with a very nice showcase.
Erskine Caldwell's steamy novel God's Little Acre was given a film adaptation in 1958. A heavily grayed-up Robert Ryan plays Ty Ty Walden, the patriarch of a slovenly backwoods family. As Ty Ty digs around his farm in search of gold (which he has yet to find), his son in law Bill Thompson (Aldo Ray) carries on an adulterous affair with the sluttish Griselda (Tina Louise). Comedy relief is provided by the dimwitted Pluto (Buddy Hackett). Others in the cast include future TV stars Jack Lord as Buck Walden and Michael Landon as Ty Ty's albino farmhand. A flop when first released, God's Little Acre made back its cost on the TV rental circuit; today, it is in the public domain, available to everyone, even the "under 18s" who were prohibited from seeing it back in 1958.