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FRIENDLY PERSUASION (1956). Director: William Wyler.
Although the Quakers in a small town in South Indiana are warned that they may have to defend themselves and their homes against rebel soldiers, Jess Birdwell (Gary Cooper) is determined that his grown son, Josh (Anthony Perkins), will not fight in the Civil War as it's against his religion. Although the one battle scene late in the picture is well done, the war almost seems like an after-thought in this movie in which Cooper plays it too cute by far in a role that cries out for a more talented and appropriate character actor. Perkins is quite good, however, as is Phyllis Love as his sister Mattie; Mark Richman as her boyfriend Gardner; Richard Eyer [The 7th Voyage of Sinbad] as Josh's younger brother; and Robert Middleton as a friend and rival of Jess's. Dorothy McGuire is all wide-eyed and beatific as Jess' wife, Eliza. Although Marjorie Main is as good as ever, the whole business with her and her three marriage-minded daughters [see photo] seems dragged in from an Abbott and Costello movie. Wyler's direction is solid, and there is excellent photography courtesy of Ellsworth Fredericks/Fredricks -- he used both spellings -- and a nice score by Dimitri Tiomkin. Joel Fluellen [Monster from Green Hell] and Robert Fuller [Brain from Planet Arous] have smaller roles. The talented Phyllis Love appeared almost exclusively on television. A goose named Samantha has nearly as much to do as Gertrude the Duck in Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Verdict: Not bad for what it is, but not for every taste. **1/2.