Before making 1951's cultural landmark A Streetcar Named Desire, Elia Kazan gained notoriety for stage work and such small-scale, socially relevant pictures as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and the Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn vehicle Sea of Grass (1947). Though the couple was best known for their comic work with director George Cukor -- State of the Union (1948), Adam's Rib (1949) -- they took their chances on this more political family drama. Working from Conrad Richter's novel, Kazan explores the familiar ranchers-versus-farmers theme, but the movie veers away from predictable Western conventions. Instead, the setting is used more as a backdrop to the film's central romantic relationship. Famed for his ability to elicit strong work from his performers, Kazan coaxes memorable turns from Tracy and Hepburn, as well as from supporting players Robert Walker and Melvyn Douglas.