Harold Bell Wright's bestselling novel The Shepherd of the Hills had been previously filmed in 1919 and 1928 before Paramount offered the first talkie version in 1941. In one of his least typical roles, John Wayne plays a young Ozark backwoodsman forsworn to kill his father, who years earlier abandoned his mother. Against this personal crisis is played the larger drama of outsiders who threaten to push Wayne's friends and family off their land. Fate plays a hand when a mysterious stranger wanders into the community. Not at all the action picture one would expect from star John Wayne and director Henry Hathaway, Shepherd of the Hills takes its own sweet time, unfolding its story in a leisurely pace befitting its slow-moving characters. The film's rich Technicolor photography adds to the restfully rustic ambience of this unusual entertainment..
by Hal Erickson synopsis