Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Set in 1850s California (but actually filmed in Utah), this made-for-TV movie features Jena Malone as title character Lucy Whipple. The emphasis, however, is on Lucy's "mule-stubborn" mother Arvella Whipple (Glenn Close), who defies 19th century sexual stereotyping to try her luck as a gold prospector. Stuck in the ill-named California mining village of Lucky Diggins, Lucy is convinced that her maw is a bit "tetched" in the head. It takes a chance encounter in the nearby woods to show Lucy that perhaps Arvella is not as foolish as she seems, and that California is not the muddy hellhole that it appears to be at first glance. Adapted from a novel by Karen Cushman, Golden Dreams: The Ballad of Lucy Whipple was first broadcast by CBS on February 18, 2001.