The Yearling (1946)




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Movie Info

Based on the novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling is set in post-Civil War Florida. Claude Jarman Jr. plays Jody Baxter, the lonely son of just-getting-by farmers Pa and Ma Baxter (Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman). With all of his siblings dead and buried, Jody yearns to have a pet of some sort. When Pa is forced by circumstances to kill a doe, the animal's fawn-the yearling of the title-is adopted by Jody. The boy's love for the animal does not alter the fact that the fawn is eating all of the Baxters' crops. Sadly, Pa tells Jody that he must kill the yearling before all their crops are destroyed. Jody can't bring himself to do this, so he sets the animal free in the wilds. Time and again, however, the yearling returns to the farm. Finally, Ma Baxter, who'd been against having the fawn on the property in the first place, shoots and wounds the animal. Now, Jody has no choice: rather than see his beloved yearling writhe in agony, he kills it. Though this results in a rift between himself and his family, Jody at last realizes that, by taking the responsiblity of saving the farm at the expense of his own feelings, he has also taken the first step towards manhood. He himself is a "yearling" no more. MGM had intended to film The Yearling in 1941 with a different cast and director, but a series of personality clashes delayed production for five years. Watching the inspired performances of Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman and Claude Jarman Jr., it is nearly impossible to imagine the film with its originally intended cast of Spencer Tracy, Anne Revere and the unknown Gene Eckman. The studio had also intended to lens the film on location in Florida, but in the end it proved more practical and expedient to shoot in the studio and its environs. Oscars went to the Technicolor photography of Charles Rosher, Leonard Smith and Arthur Arling, and to the art direction/set decoration work of Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse and Edwin B. Willis. Originally released at 128 minutes, the film was reissued in a butchered 94 minute version; steer clear of this one and opt for the still-available original.
Classics , Kids & Family
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MGM Home Entertainment


Gregory Peck
as Pa Baxter
Jane Wyman
as Ma Baxter
Claude Jarman Jr.
as Jody Baxter
Margaret Wycherly
as Ma Forrester
Chill Wills
as Buck Forrester
Clem Bevans
as Pa Forrester
Henry Travers
as Mr. Boyles
Forrest Tucker
as Lem Forrester
Donn Gift
as Fodderwing
Dan White
as Millwheel
Matt Willis
as Gabby
June Lockhart
as Twink Weatherby
Joan Wells
as Eulalie
Jeff York
as Oliver
Chick York
as Doc Wilson
Jane Green
as Mrs. Saunders
Victor Kilian
as Captain
Frank Eldredge
as Deckhand
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Yearling

All Critics (14)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

In spite of obvious scenes of boy and growing deer running against a rosy skyline, the relationship is handled with tenderness and taste.

Full Review… | June 29, 2015
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

The internal and external loyalties and relationships that pull and push young Jody provide the story with its powerful conflicts.

Full Review… | July 4, 2013

Thoughtful adaptation of the prize-winning novel.

Full Review… | December 29, 2010
Common Sense Media

Audience Reviews for The Yearling


A bit on the barfy side. A young man decides to raise a deer and becomes a man. Let's forget about this one, shall we?

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

★★★1/2 (out of four) An extremely sweet family film that packs an emotional wallop. It light and fun enough to be enjoyed by the entire family, but is serious enough to be firmly planted in reality with more depth than expected. Pa and Ma Baxter, played by Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman, live in the Florida wilderness in the post Civil War years. Their son, Jody, is lonely since all his siblings have been deead and buried for some time. When Pa kills a doe deer, Jody asks to take its fawn for a pet. The fawn does what deer do, however, and eats all the food from the garden. Pa says that he will be forced to kill the animal, so Jody sets it free, only to have it continue to return. Adapted from the classic novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, the story sets up a dramatic confrontation between father and son with neither being the villain. A very satisfying family drama. Nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress at the Academy Awards. [IMG][/IMG]

Steve Smith
Steve Smith

WOW! FANTASTIC! Good thing OZ was made in year 1939, because that would have stolen the prize but, I have to say that this movie is comparable to the Wizard of Oz!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

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