The Yearling (film)
Independent Films, Film Profiles
The Yearling is a 1946 family film drama made by MGM. It was directed by Clarence Brown and produced by Sidney Franklin. The screenplay was by Paul Osborn and John Lee Mahin (uncredited), adapted from the novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It tells the story of a boy who adopts a fawn as a pet and stars Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman, Claude Jarman Jr., Chill Wills and Forrest Tucker.The Yearling won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color (Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse, Edwin B. Willis) and Best Cinematography, Color and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Gregory Peck), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Jane Wyman), Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Picture. Jarman Jr., who gets the most screen time, was awarded a special "Juvenile Oscar".The film was remade as a television movie by CBS in 1994 starring Peter Strauss, Jean Smart and Wil Horneff as Penny, Ory and Jody Baxter respectively.The Yearling is a timeless Pulitzer Prize winning story with earthy dialect about the Baxter family set in the south in the middle of a slew of southern escapades. The Baxter son, Jody Baxter, asks for something more than their comfortable home, a pet, in fact a fawn named Flag.Penny Baxter, a rebel soldier, (Gregory Peck) and his wife, Ory (Jane Wyman), become pioneer farmers in Florida after the American Civil War. Jody Baxter (Claude Jarman Jr.), a boy in his pre-teen years, is their only surviving child. Jody has a wonderful relationship with his warm and loving pa. Ory, however, is still haunted by the deaths of the three other children of the family; she is very somber and hard-hearted and is (strangely) afraid that Jody will end up dying if she shows her parental love to him. Jody finds her somewhat unloving and unreasonable.With all of his siblings dead and buried, Jody longs for a pet to play with and take care of. Penny is sympathetic and understanding, but Ory is rather disgusted. One day, when a rattler bites Penny, they kill a doe and use its organs to draw out the poison. Jody asks to adopt the doe's orphaned fawn; Penny permits it but warns Jody that the fawn will have to be set free when it grows up.Jody goes to ask his frail friend Fodderwing to name the fawn only to find he has recently died. However Fodderwing's father says he always said that if he had a Fawn he would name him Flag, for the critter's waving white tail.Soon, he and Flag are inseparable. One year later, Flag grows up and becomes a total nuisance to the household and farm; it eats newly-grown corn, destroys fences, and tramples on tobacco crops. Penny orders Jody to take the deer out into the woods and shoot it to death. Jody takes the deer out, but does not have the courage to kill it; he orders the deer to go away and never return instead. But Flag comes back to their property. Finally, Ory (who Jody believes had always hated his pet) takes the gun and shoots it but only wounds the deer. Penny orders Jody to put the deer out of its misery. Rather than let his pet deer be in agonizing pain, he follows his father's orders.The loss of Jody's beloved pet deer proves too much for him to handle; overwhelmed with anger and despair, he runs away from home. Three days later, he is rescued by a friendly boat captain and returns home. He and Penny quickly make up, and Penny tells him that Ory had been out searching for him. Just before Jody goes to bed, Ory returns and sees that he is back. She becomes filled with happiness and emotion, knowing that her huge fear of losing her last child is now over. She happily runs into Jody's room and showers him with more affection than she ever gave him. She is no longer afraid to show her parental love to him.
Year of Production: 1946
Length: 128 min
Country: United States
- Clarence Brown
- Sidney Franklin
- Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman, Claude Jarman Jr.