The Stranger's Return (1933)
Based on a novel by Phil (State Fair) Stong, The Stranger's Return is one of the most accomplished projects of director King Vidor, and one of the few MGM films of its period to display anything like a "personal touch." Miriam Hopkins stars as a bored Manhattanite who visits her family farm in Iowa. Her grandfather Lionel Barrymore, an irascible Civil War vet, rules over the farm with the help of a drunken but reliable handyman (Stu Erwin). Barrymore's stepdaughter Beulah Bondi and her lazy husband Grant Mitchell are hostile towards Hopkins, a state of affairs not helped when Miriam strikes up a friendship with the farmer husband (Franchot Tone) of a popular local girl (Irene Hervey). Hopkins redeems herself in the eyes of the community through standing by her grandfather when the greedy stepdaughter inaugurates a sanity hearing in order to wrest away his property. Wisely, Hopkins also ends her relationship with Tone, who leaves with his wife to accept a teaching post. In lesser hands, The Stranger's Return would have descended into dime-novel melodrama; thanks to King Vidor's sensitivity towards his characters, and his obvious love of the farmland that sustains them, the film transcends its plottage. The result is a classic awaiting rediscovery. … More
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