review for The Shepherd of the Hills on AllMovie

The Shepherd of the Hills (1941)
by Craig Butler review

Faithful to the spirit (if definitely not the letter) of the novel on which it is based, The Shepherd of the Hills is a gentle, moving and quite inspirational film that will especially be appreciated by those of a spiritual nature. Some modern viewers may approach it cynically and may find it a trifle "homespun" for their tastes; but those who get into the spirit of the piece should be amply rewarded. Stuart Anthony and Grover Jones have crafted a sweet paean to the Golden Rule -- but have not neglected to include depictions of pain, bitterness and consuming hatred. Considering that Shepherd has as its star John Wayne and as its director Henry Hathaway, it's surprising that there is very little in the way of "action" here; plenty happens, but it involves very little of the rough and tumble variety that one associates with Wayne, who gives a lovely performance here that demonstrates some very fine and skillful acting. Even better is Harry Carey as the title character, the real star of the film (in spite of Wayne's billing). Betty Field is a delight, Beulah Bondi is scowlingly scary and Marjorie Main clearly enjoys the chance of a change-of-pace part.