So Big 1953 (DVD) Jane Wyman
Region One. North American Format. (Will play in the US and Canada)
In the third and final big screen adaption of Edna Ferber's novel, Jane Wyman essays the role of the schoolteacher who moves into a community of Dutch immigrant farmers in the Midwest and changes her life forever as she goes from rich debutante to a farmer's wife and widow. Wyman takes pride in her work and her child whom she nicknames So Big.
Jane's family fortune was lost when her parents died and she was forced by circumstance to become a schoolteacher. She's assigned to the Midwest town of New Holland and she works hard to teach the Dutch immigrant children. She also meets and weds sturdy farmer Sterling Hayden who leaves her a widow with a child and a farm to manage.
She meets the challenge and in doing so finds what Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh called 'the nobility of toil' in her work. So Big is Edna Ferber's ode to the agricultural life, there is indeed something special in seeing the seeds you plant grow into something. It's a lesson she imparts to her son who when he's full grown is played by Steve Forest. Forest in fact becomes an architect, but his mom literally and figuratively drags him back down to earth every so often.
Wyman's best scenes are with the various children who play her son Dirk, aka So Big at various stages of life. The film probably deserved to run a bit longer because I don't think all of Edna Ferber's thoughts were translated to the screen.
Still So Big holds up well as fine family entertainment, as good as it was when released in 1953.
Starring: Jane Wyman, Kirk Douglas, Sterling Hayden, Nancy Olson, Steve Forrest, Martha Hyer, Richard Beymer, Roland Winters, Vera Miles (Uncredited as a “Girl”, Jon Provost (Uncredited as Dirk – Age 2)
Music: Max Steiner
Tommy Rettig and Jon Provost both portrayed a young Dirk. They both were also cast as Lassie's boy master in the TV series.
Run time: 101m
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