Conceived as a Gone With the Wind for the CinemaScope generation, Raintree County wasn't quite as successful as its role model, but it still proved a moneyspinner for MGM. Elizabeth Taylor stars as a spoiled Southern belle who falls in love with pacifistic Indiana youth Montgomery Clift. Though Clift is engaged to Eva Marie Saint, what Taylor wants, Taylor gets, and she isn't above using the dirtiest of deceptions to win Clift's affections. When the Civil War break out, Clift, a staunch abolitionist, joins the Union, much to the dismay of true-to-Dixie Taylor. While Clift is off fighting the war, Taylor descends into a depression that deepens into insanity. At war's end, Clift tries to come to terms with Taylor's lunacy for the sake of their child. But the strain proves too much for both of them, leading to an operatic climax which curiously segues into a happy ending (happy for some of the characters, anyway). If Montgomery Clift's performance--and appearance--seems to fluctuate wildly throughout the film, it is because he was involved in a serious auto accident during shooting, one that left both physical and emotional scars from which he never completely recovered. The 187-minute Raintree Country (reduced to 168 minutes after its initial roadshow engagements) was adapted by Millard Kaufman from the best-selling novel by Ross Lockridge, Jr. (whose own life story was infinitely more tragic than anything in his book).
by Hal Erickson synopsis