Friendly Persuasion, written by Michael Wilson, based on the book by Jessamyn West
9 out of 10
Notes and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
- “It will pleasure you in a hundred ways”
This is on the poster of this great movie and it is a correct statement.
Friendly Persuasion is a film about the war, the moral implications, religion and other serious themes that make it fascinating.
It is also a splendid comedy.
You can find it on The New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made List:
William Wyler is the director of this and other magnificent films like:
- Roman Holiday, The Best Years of Our Lives (I have a not on it that you can find at the addresses aforementioned)
Gary Cooper and Anthony Perkins are two of the actors that act with brilliance in this film, the former is Jess Birdwell.
I have seen Gary Cooper recently in another masterpiece –that is listed at the same addresses above- High Noon.
If in High Noon the hero has to fight, albeit reluctantly, with the gun in hand, Jess Birdwell is opposed to violence.
And so is the whole community to which the Birdwell family belongs, Quakers in Indiana, in 1862, during the Civil War.
When they are asked in church about joining the fight and not let others defend their families and property most refuse.
This drama and moral issue make the film even more intriguing and fascinating, because the viewer anticipates events.
We feel it would be hard, if not impossible for men in the religious group to hold on to their convictions.
Some of the rules seem preposterous and generate laughter, for instance when Jess Birdwell buys a musical instrument.
And Quakers were not opposed only to violence, but to a good many other things, including this temptation- I venture a possible reason.
Eliza Birdwell is the house wife and maybe the real master of the game- albeit the Quaker doctrine might oppose that too.
She says no to the acquisition in the most resolute terms, adding that if that thing enters the house, she would leave it.
Indeed, she goes to the barn until an armistice is achieved, but the fun connected with the music is not over.
One evening, they have some respected members of the religious community visiting and the music can be heard.
For a while, the sounds are attributed to creaking doors and then Jess Birdwell raises his voice in prayers destined to cover the music.
He is at a loss once he has finished listing the saints he knows and offer homage to, when the elders offer a surprise:
- Thank you brother, I have heard the voice of heaven!
- Your prayers have been answered!
Alas, the confederate troops are not just approaching, but are killing people, innocent bystanders and burning farms.
Josh Birdwell joins the war effort and is facing the enemy, near a river crossing where a clash would take place.
But through all this there is humor, connected also with a tame goose, that is the Birdwell family pet, mean with little Jess.
The poor bird is on the point of ending in a pot, when the Confederates arrive on the farm, but mother takes the broom.
Her violence is later mocked and there is another animal that provides smiles if not laughter, a horse that likes to race.