After the American Civil War, a rebel soldier and his wife become pioneer farmers in Florida. Their son Jody is 11 years old; he gets along well with his warm and affectionate pa, but his ma is haunted by the death of her other children, so she's somber, even cold. The boy wants a pet: the dad is sympathetic, the mom obdurate. When a rattler bites pa, pa kills a doe to use its organs to draw out the poison. Jody begs to keep the doe's fawn as a pet. The parents agree, and the boy and the deer are soon inseparable. The fawn grows quickly, and as a yearling tramples tobacco shoots and eats the newly-sprouted corn. This is too much for ma, and Jody has to face harsh, adult realities.
Gregory Peck ... Ezra 'Penny' Baxter
Jane Wyman ... Orry Baxter
Claude Jarman Jr. ... Jody
Chill Wills ... Buck Forrester
Clem Bevans ... Pa Forrester
Margaret Wycherly ... Ma Forrester
Henry Travers ... Mr. Boyles
Forrest Tucker ... Lem Forrester
Donn Gift ... Fodderwing
Spencer Tracy was originally supposed to have played the father in 'The Yearling' with Ann Revere as his wife and some footage was even shot on location in Florida and later scrapped. But then, four years later, MGM decided to start again with Gregory Peck as the kindly father, Jane Wyman as his embittered wife and Claude Jarman, Jr. as the naive Jody whose love for a pet fawn is the centerpiece of the story. It was worth the wait. They are all well cast in this tender, warm-hearted story from the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings novel of a family living near the Florida everglades.
The technicolor photography is as impressive as the use of background music, especially in the scene where Jody playfully comes across the abandoned fawn. Jarman's emotions and the soaring score combine to make one of the film's strongest and most appealing moments. Jane Wyman was so convincing as the hardened mother afraid of losing her only child, that when she took her daughter to see the film she wouldn't speak to her for two weeks afterwards--unable to forgive her mother for the final action she takes in the film!
Ideal family entertainment and a must-see for anyone who has missed seeing this film classic. Claude Jarman, Jr. deserved his Academy Award and, although he had never acted before, was chosen from 19,000 applicants to play Jody. Peck plays the father with dignity and restraint, his love for the boy apparent in every frame of the film. An unforgettable coming of age tale, tastefully produced and faithful to the original source.
This wonderful film is one of a handful that has the power to call me back to my childhood days and wrap me in warm memories of my Mom, Dad and little brother sitting around the television on Saturday night, watching the late show.
From the opening scenes of this beautifully photographed movie I found myself caught-up in the intriguing post Civil War story of a boy and his pet faun and their fantastic adventures on a scruffy Florida Everglades farm. The film stars Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman and Claude Jarman in the lead roles, with some of Hollywood's best character actors in the supporting roles.
Peck gives an Oscar caliber performance as the warmhearted father who does his best to make a better life for his family, with absolutely no help from the elements, which surround them. Jane Wyman brilliantly plays Orry, the hardened mother and wife who is so embittered by past tragedies in her life that she is unable to show any love for her one surviving child for fear of losing him as well. And Claude Jarman plays Jodie, the wistful young boy who is just one summer away from adolescence and all the emotional growing pains that come with it.
This story is laced with excitement and adventure sure to please the kids, but each of the adventures is also a great lesson in life that will stay with them for years to come. The cinematography is spectacular and received a well-deserved Academy Award and the wildlife scenes are incredible as well. Just watching Jodie romp through the woods with his faun is a joyous site to behold. The way Orry finally begins letting herself love her son will bring tears to your eyes. This movie was one of the most emotional experiences of my young life and I believe I am a better person from the lessons learned here.
I highly recommend this film, it is one to be experienced with your entire family.
One would have to be heartless not to be disarmed by this beautifully photographed, acted and realized story of a young boy's timeless, blissful childhood, represented by the yearling, and its inevitable end.
There is a stage in childhood, somewhere between the terrible twos and teens, when a boy or girl is without guile, believing that kindness and good intentions make everything right. Then, one day they discover that sometimes kindness and good intentions are not enough. That sometimes only death will put things right.
Directed by the great Clarence Brown, the entire film is a delight, but there are moments in it . . . the boy's night in a treehouse, with an ethereal little lame friend, when the boy discovers the faun, when they both gambol in the everglade. By all rights, scenes like these - and some of the lines - ought to make one cringe, but they don't. They are transcendent.
This is a family film. This means one for the whole family. See it with your kids. Learn from it as they do.
* MGM had actually begun filming "The Yearling" in 1941 with Spencer Tracy, Anne Revere, and Atlanta native Gene Eckman (who never appeared in another film) in the starring roles, Roddy McDowall as Fodderwing, and Victor Fleming directing, but the production ran into innumerable problems, including Eckman growing too quickly during filming, his thick local accent (which conflicted with Tracy's vocal quality), swarms of mosquitoes, and conflicts between Fleming and producer Sidney Franklin. After King Vidor agreed to take over directing but then dropped out, the project was cancelled - at a loss of $500,000 - when the United States entered World War II.
* During the final days of filming, actor Gregory Peck was alternating between the Florida set of this movie and a Texas set, where he was simultaneously filming Duel in the Sun (1946).
* During the ten months of filming, 32 trained animals were used, including five fawns. The fawns needed to be replaced as they aged in order to conform to the description of the title animal. The fawn found by Jody, as he pulls back the foliage, was three days old and had been rescued from a forest fire. Other animals used in filming included 126 deer, 9 black bears, 37 dogs, 53 wild birds, 17 buzzards, 1 owl, 83 chickens, 36 pigs, 8 rattlesnakes, 18 squirrels, 4 horses and 17 raccoons.
* "The Yearling" author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' own Cross Creek homestead - where she had written the novel - was used for filming some of the location scenes in the movie.
* Jane Wyman's daughter refused to speak to her for two weeks after she saw the film.
* Louis B. Mayer considered Ann Harding for the role of Ma Baxter and had her test in the early '40s.
* Most of the "atmosphere" and outdoors animal scenes were shot five years previously, by a second-unit crew sent to Florida in 1941, when the project was first begun. The film was shut down soon after the footage was shot, but when it was restarted again in 1946, the 1941 footage was used.