The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936)

The_Trail_of_the_Lonesome_Pine-_1936_Poster The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936)

Run time: Approved | 102 min | Western
Director: Henry Hathaway
Writers: Grover Jones, John Fox Jr.
Stars: Sylvia Sidney, Fred MacMurray, Henry Fonda
Storyline
Deep in the undeveloped backwoods of the Blue Ridge Mountains, two young men are caught in the midst of an ancient feud and their love of one women. And the railroads coming! A trail blazing technicolor adventure.
Fun Facts:
1) Paramount’s first Technicolor feature and the first feature to be shot in Three-Strip Technicolor outside of a studio environment (on location).
2) Nominated for an Oscar for Best Song – ‘A Melody From the Sky’ in 1937.

4 responses to “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936)”

  1. IMDBReviewer says:

    `In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, on THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE,’ a young woman discovers love, but no respite from the violent feud which has torn apart two families.

    Full of good performances & boasting excellent production values courtesy of Paramount Studios, this fine drama brings to its viewers a not-so-subtle message of peace & tolerance. The vividly depicted consequences of mindless, violent behavior give the film a real punch.

    The film’s romantic triangle consists of barefoot mountain lass Sylvia Sidney, her decent, uncomplicated cousin Henry Fonda, and mining executive Fred MacMurray, who, as a newcomer to the backwoods, rebels against the traditions of violence & revenge he finds there. All three deliver compelling performances, with a slight advantage going to the gentlemen, as their roles do not require as much shrill, fickle behavior as does Miss Sidney’s.

    The marvelous character actress Beulah Bondi appears as Miss Sidney’s mother, one of the first in a decades-long line of stubborn, proud old women she would play; her eyes tell of the world of trouble her character has seen on the mountain. Cuddly Nigel Bruce is MacMurray’s associate – gruff & grumbly, but with a heart of gold.

    Special mention should be made of seven-year-old Spanky McFarland, who plays Miss Sidney’s little brother. Already the star of numerous OUR GANG comedies, the tiny tyke here displays the talent that placed him in the front rank of child movie stars. Precocious & poignant, Spanky’s character is quite unforgettable.

    Fred Stone & Robert Barrat play the heads of the two feuding clans, one gentle – the other fierce. Movie mavens will recognize Clara Blandick as a frightened landlady and Samuel S. Hinds as the Gaptown sheriff.

    The film is stitched together by the evocative, nostalgic singing of Fuzzy Knight, who introduces ‘Twilight On The Trail’ & ‘A Melody From The Sky,’ (both by Louis Alter and Sidney D. Mitchell). The tune for the chorus of ‘The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine,’ by Ballard MacDonald & Harry Carroll, can be briefly heard during the opening credits; viewers will need to watch Laurel & Hardy’s WAY OUT WEST (1937) to hear this fine old song actually sung.

    Famous as the first outdoor film produced in full Technicolor, THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE benefits greatly from its location filming near Cedar Lake, in California’s San Bernardino Mountains.

  2. tfsadmin says:

    This sound version of The Trail of the Lonesome Pine is actually the fourth and to date last version of this story. There were three silent films made from this novel by John Fox, Jr., including one done in 1916 by Cecil B. DeMille.

    It's the story of a couple of Appalachian Mountain families who've had a decades old feud in which no one can quite recall how it all got started, but they sure do remember the latest outrage by the other crowd. There's a great temptation to treat this all humorously and it certainly has been done, I can recall Abbott and Costello's Comin' Round the Mountain with the same plot premise. But whole people's and whole nations act this way, who are we to judge the Tollivers and Falins of this story.

    Sylvia Sidney and Henry Fonda are two Tolliver cousins, kissing cousins as they say in the mountains, distant enough to contemplate marriage. Into the picture comes railroad man Fred MacMurray who wants to build a railroad through the properties of both families. He interests Sylvia who starts to see that there is a whole world away from her family and their feud.

    Of course when her little brother is killed the whole ugly business starts up again and it leaves tragedy again in both families.

    The Trail of the Lonesome Pine has its place in film history as the first outdoor as opposed to studio film shot in three strip technicolor. Color which is now standard was a big gimmick back in the day and Paramount raked in good box office.

    Fuzzy Knight plays another rustic character, kind of a Tolliver satellite and he sings a couple of songs written for the film by Louis Alter and Sidney Mitchell, Twilight on the Trail and A Melody from the Sky. The latter got an Academy Award nomination for Best Song, losing to The Way You Look Tonight. The former however got a recording by Bing Crosby. This is a perfect example of the connection of film, and radio, and the recording industry. Bing was Paramount's number one box office attraction and the Paramount executives no doubt prevailed on him to record the song and sing it on his brand new Kraft Music Hall Radio Show in the interest of publicizing The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.

    Fred MacMurray and Sylvia Sidney were also with Paramount at the time and Henry Fonda was at that time under contract to producer Walter Wanger who filmed this story. Those were the days way before agents and stars being their own producers. Such cozy arrangements as these were more easily done then.

    This last to date version of The Trail of the Lonesome Pine probably is too old fashioned for a remake. Still I think today's audiences might still enjoy it.

  3. IMDBReviewer says:

    It’s a wonderful movie – good story – well written & well acted by a better than ordinary cast. Spanky Mac Farland was a jewel in his role & Fred MacMurry & Henry Fonda performed well. Buelha Bondi proved to be a surprisingly good (to me, at least), actress. She carried more than her share of the movie. The scenery, the filming of that beautiful area, the first movie, shot outside, in color, should have won an Oscar. I’m still disappointed that it didn’t. if you haven’t seen it – SEE IT!!!

  4. tfsadmin says:

    The Trail of the Lonesome Pine is a beautiful tear-jerker.The characters are simple and honest. The setting is in hill-billy country. The simple folk there are trying to prevent a railroad running through their area and upsetting their way of life. To add to their stress is a continual family feud. In this movie we see the best and the worst in people. The acting is top-notch. A handkerchief is a must for this movie.

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