(1950)3Craig ButlerA very gentle but also very affecting rural drama, Stars in the Crown is a nostalgic bouquet to a time that its creators see as in some ways more difficult, but also more rewarding, than their own. Walesburg has its share of problems, some mighty big, but it also has an outsized father figure that provides the moral guidance and authority necessary to deal with those problems. Playing almost like a fable in places, Stars is not realistic, but it's absorbing, and it's hard not to get caught up in its "good can and will conquer all" theme. Working in a genre light years away from his Cat people-like films, director Jacques Tourneur's work is delicate and sensitive, yet alive to all the dramatic possibilities inherent in the script, of which there are many. The climax, which is definitely clichéd, is also undeniably powerful and immensely satisfying. Tourneur is helped by Joel McCrea's softly towering performance, one which anchors the film firmly and which is commanding without being overly showy (a little showy, yes, but it works.) Dean Stockwell does very well as the young boy, and Ellen Drew makes a fine "better half" for McCrea. Throw in solid work from Amanda Blake, alan Hale and James Mitchell, and the result is a small gem.
Stars in My Crown is an episodic movie about a rural Southern community in the 19th century. Though the film features a number of characters, it focuses on a preacher who moves into the city and helps solve the town's problems.