Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945) Poster

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Nurturing Those Tender Grapes
bkoganbing10 October 2007
One of Edward G. Robinson's most beloved films is this one in which he totally reverses type and becomes the wise father of Margaret O'Brien. Our Vines Have Tender Grapes and the tender grapes referred to are the children in their innocence, Margaret O'Brien and Jackie Jenkins.

In this rural Wisconsin town where few even have electricity, the settlers are mostly Norwegian immigrants who did like our American Midwest climate because it was so similar to Norway. They are a tight knit group and are a reserved bunch. But as the film shows, during a crisis they do come together.

O'Brien and Jenkins are an appealing pair of youngsters. Their childhood is a whole lot like Tom Sawyer's and Huck Finn's. Of course in one instance they try duplicating something Tom and Huck did that nearly turns tragic.

Agnes Moorehead also shows what a capable player she is in playing Robinson's wife and O'Brien's mother. I'm sure she was grateful for not playing an evil woman for a change.

There is a subplot involving a romance of editor James Craig and new school teacher Frances Gifford. Gifford is first quite resistant to the town, she's a big city girl, but she warms up to them and Craig.

But the film really belongs to Robinson and O'Brien. Robinson has a tough fight, but he more than holds his own in scenes with the little moppet. Sad he didn't do more films like this.

Our Vines Have Tender Grapes is a timeless classic, I think children and families of any age will identify and love it.
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Hard To Imagine A Nicer Film
ccthemovieman-120 September 2005
It's true - this is about as nice as it ever got with a movie. There are no villains, no violence (except when animals had to be destroyed in a fire...and that wasn't pictured), and just a nice story of a nice Norwegian family living in rural Wisconsin.

The story emphasizes two members of the family: the 7-year-old daughter, played by 1940s child star Margaret O'Brien, and her father, played by famous tough-guy actor Edward G. Robinson. This is Robinson as you rarely saw him and refreshingly low-key.

Yes, O'Brien tends overact a bit, but some of her lines are so touching, so moving and delivered with such a soft, sweet voice that she gets away with them. Her gesture at the end of the film - no "spoilers" here - is so astounding I doubt it would ever happen in real life.....but it's wonderful to see.

James Craig, Frances Gifford, Agnes Moorhead and Jackie "Butch" Jeknins all add to this old-fashioned wholesome film. (If those words turn you off, by all means, skip this movie.) Jenkins can be a bit much, but he does add humor to the movie. Craig and Gifford make an attractive couple.

This movie is highly recommended for those of you who want a break from films with "bad guys" and a lot of "edginess."
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one of my all-time favorites
ginmoses6 December 2005
This is one of those rare films that looks frankly at the more tender and noble human emotions, such as self-sacrifice, generosity, parental love, and more, and leaves the viewer feeling fuller and more validated as a human being. Yes, it may sound corny in today's glitzy surface-obsessed world, but we who remember the simpler days love this film. Edward G. is fantastic as the understanding caring father, Margaret is excellent and thoroughly believable as always, and Butch does a fantastic job. His role is written as a perfect compliment to MArgfaret's, as he observes everything from a male perspective and always wants to know why things work, while Margaret only wants to know that everything is working okay with the world. Agnes gets to portray a soft and loving mother as opposed to nasty shrews she usually plays. My favorite Moorehead and Robinson roles, both in one movie.
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lovely Americana
klg197 July 2005
Every once in a while, Hollywood would turn out simple, almost humble films that were salutes to a kind of idealized America that still resonates in our collective American memory. "I Remember Mama" is one example, and the Norwegian-American community must have been a rich source for such reflection, because the Norwegian-Americans of Fuller Junction, Wisconsin, are the subject of yet another in "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes." It's amusing that the source of the title is the line from the Song of Songs that begins, "The Little Foxes"--a quote that made the title of quite a different film about quite different American values.

"Our Vines Have Tender Grapes" traces the fortunes of a small middle-American community, with particular focus on the Jacobson family, consisting of father Martinius (Edward G. Robinson), mother Bruna (Agnes Moorehead), and 7-year-old Selma (Margaret O'Brien). Selma's cousin Arnold is also featured, as is the editor of the local paper, other farming neighbors, the new schoolteacher (doing her practicum for a PhD in education, back in Milwaukee), and others.

There isn't necessarily a narrative here; the film provides an episodic look at a year in the life of this community, with tragedy, comedy, and all the human drama. Sometimes it gets a little too episodic, perhaps, as in the dribs of information we get on the life of an emotionally-disturbed neighbor girl. But we are not being asked to follow a narrative, we are merely being asked to spend some time with these people and observe their lives.

The request pays back the time spent. All the performances (with the possible exception of a rather wooden Butch Jenkins as Arnold, whose lips can be seen to move with Margaret O'Brien's lines in their first scene) are engaging. The great Edward G. Robinson once again shows his range (was there any kind of role that man couldn't play??), and Agnes Moorehead gets a chance to show range she isn't generally allowed to display. Margaret O'Brien's Selma can be seen as an outgrowth of Tootie from "Meet Me in St Louis," but I believe Selma is a much more emotionally-complex part and O'Brien takes that ball and runs with it. Her rendition of the Nativity story is JUST this side of saccharine, and it works, especially given the visceral punch of the final lines.

The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo, in his last Hollywood effort before the blacklist. Trumbo got the story from a book by George Victor Martin, who was the husband of the woman Selma became. According to the catalog of the American Film Institute, Selma Martin (then estranged from her husband) and her cousin Arnold sued MGM on the basis that the film caused them "undue public attention, mental anguish and humiliation." Staggering news, given the gentle, lovely portrayals of them the film provides.

This film shows up on Turner Classic Movies from time to time. You won't regret giving a couple of hours of your day to this story; it's truly worth it.
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A heart-warming tale of rural life in the 1940's for an immigrant family.
PHeath7 August 2000
This movie is a wonderful story about farm life in 1940's Wisconsin starring Edward G Robinson, Margaret O'Brien and Agnes Moorehead.

E.G. Robinson's role in this movie is a vast departure from his usual Tough Guy and Gangster films. He plays a very warm and tender hearted Father and Husband who owns a small farm in rural Wisconsin. His portrayal is superb, and totally surprised me!

Margaret O'Brien plays 7 year old Selma, in a performance that is outstanding. From moments of usual Child-like Innocence, to subtle yet profound moments of Fear, Joy, Anger and Sadness, this performance is one of her best that I have ever seen!

Agnes Moorehead plays the Matriarch of the family, a stern, yet loving wife and mother, who stands by her husband with unwavering faith and shows her daughter what life is all about with love, tenderness and truth.

This movie captivated me, charmed me, and opened my eyes to small town America in the 1940's, and shows a wonderfully simple style of life, that I wish we could all go back to. I hope you will enjoy this movie!
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Brought up right.
jz13604 May 2004
I'm normally a pretty sensitive guy but rare is the time, especially with movies these days (I'm in my early 40s), that I feel joy or sorrow or anything at all, for that matter, at a movie. I think most of them are made by people who have nothing to say.

This film is different. I actually found myself a couple times with tears rolling down my cheeks and I was happy to have that feeling. And there were times that my heart soared here too.

I must first say that I have always loved Edward G. From Little Caesar to The Sea Wolf and more, this is an actor's actor. He is authoratative here for sure, but in a tender and fair way. It made me see him in a completely different and more sympathetic light. He is a real "little guy" here. When he balks

at physically punishing his daughter for being selfish with the roller skates, I wish I could make every parent today see that scene.

Strange as it may seem, Agnes Moorehead is an idea match wife for Edward G.

Known for "Bewitched" or Orson Wellesian weirdo-type characters, we usually

see her as kind of a cold loser whose life has passed her by. She is so credible and so good here, you can see a light shine from within. When she expresses

pride in the children, it is real. Robinson and Moorehead are what make this

movie real and are the forces of good who influence children to grow up right.

Now a word about the courtroom scene when the girl offers her calf and

everyone starts offering increasingly valuable parts of the farm to give to the stricken farmer. To say this scene reflected communism is like saying It's a

Wonderful Life reflects communism. It's totally ridiculous. It is Capra-corn of the highest order and is just one of many scenes in a movie performed by people

who believe every word the screenwriter wrote, directed by a person of vision and written with a heart.

So if you are a bit more sentimental and want a film that is real and has a heart, and is far enough removed from all the ADD and ritalin and child abuse we

have now, this one will make you forget about the regrettable way things go

today and the way things should be.
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A Charming Film That Offers Lessons In Living
gftbiloxi2 May 2005
This simple story offers sentiment without saccharine in its story of a farming family in a small community. Episodic in nature, the film follows the adventures of daughter Selma (Margaret O'Brien) and her friend Arnold (Jackie "Butch" Jenkins) as they, like the crops under her parents' care, grow into caring, loving individuals.

The cast is the great thing here. O'Brien was a gifted little actress, charming in her prissiness, and Jenkins equals her as her slightly pouty friend. Both offer memorable performances--but the truly remarkable performances here, the ones for which the film should be prized, come from Edward G. Robinson and Agnes Moorehead, who are cast against type in the roles of Selma's parents. Robinson, of course, is best remembered for his tough-guy roles, full of energetic bluster; Moorehead is most often recalled as one of the most memorable shrews in Hollywood history. But both show the range of their talents in this film, playing quietly, simply, and very movingly--and one regrets that both (particularly Moorehead) were not given more opportunity to play such in-depth roles more often.

Ultimately, VINES is about how parents teach their children and shape their lives--and about how children, for good or ill, learn from their parents. Simply filmed, beautifully performed, and memorable from start to finish, it is a film that deserves wider recognition than it normally receives. An excellent family film that both parents and children will enjoy.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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like Debussey's music
ceveretus5 July 2004
Of course you don't know me, but if you believe that I am the furthest thing from a sentimental person, you should trust me when I say this film (the title of which I cannot even bring myself to reproduce it's such a HORRIBLE title, one of the worst ever) blew me away. This film is like Debussey's music, it flows along and has a spontaneous quality to it, as if it weren't planned at all. The LACK of conflict for at least the first hour is a BOLD move esthetically. It took real guts to make this film, and real skill too. Those who would criticize its lack of "realism," its failure to acknowledge the DARK SIDE know not what they do. We NEED movies which acknowledge the fact that life can be good, that childhood can be fun, that the effortless insights of children make us laugh. I am still laughing at Arnold, who in one scene in the barn bombards Martinius and Selma with "why" after "why" after "why." "Why can't I go to school?" asks Arnold. "Because you're too young," answers Selma. "Why am I too young?" he asks. "Just because you are." "But why?" he asks again. "Because." Maybe it's just me, but that is one hilarious exchange of dialogue, one of many in the film. Margaret O'brien is BRILLIANT in these scenes, astonishingly natural in front of the camera.

Sure there are attempts to get deep about the war, and there are other "literary" moments of forced deepness, but overall this is one RARE piece of film ART, and an unjustly ignored CLASSIC.
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I loved this movie!
jtaraba-14 May 2004
Sure, maybe the movie harkens back to a simpler time and maybe life really didn't go this way for alot of people, but this is a sweet movie- the likes we don't really see too much of these days. I did find myself waiting for the inevitable "other shoe to drop" as things were really going too well for the main characters and in all movies- something bad usually happens. I have read other comments here regarding this movie and it's supposed communist undertones- if giving of yourself to help someone that lost everything in a fire is communist- then I'm all for it. Edward G Robinson is hard working, sweet and gentle- without being mushy- it's a simple film that is nice to watch for it's wholesomeness. There are some unhappy parts- a barn burning- and a lesson that even when you get something that you have wanted for your whole life, things can be taken away in the blink of an eye. It's a wonderful movie and has alot of the things I watch some classic movies for: a charm and sweetness that involves no sex and violence- it doesn't need to to get it's message across.
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" There are some things which require thought, before answering "
thinker16912 January 2012
Before he got into trouble with the despicable, vicious, self-serving Committee on UnAmerican activities, Dalton Trumbo was a versatile, highly respected, and talented American writer. One of his greatest works (And there were many) was this story called " Our Vines have Tender Grapes. " Directed by Roy Rowland. It tells the story of a small Wisconsin girl named Selma Jacobson (Margaret O'Brien) who's simple Norwegian father (Edward G. Robinson) tries to raise his daughter with kindness and compassion. Life is difficult, but manageable and made so by the simple way of life they live. With his wife Bruna (Agnes Moorehead, before she became Endora on Bewitched) they struggle with life on the farm and with the rural neighbors which dot their small village. Given the enduring and often-times incredible hardships, like floods, fires and natural disasters, their spirits are often tested, but their resolve remains unwavering. Thus the two children learn from their stalwart families, the importance of respect, love and most often the need for understanding the most difficult issues in the world. James Craig plays Nels Halverson. the 'Editor' of the town who's patience pervades the film as he seeks Viola Johnson (Frances Gifford) the new school-teacher and his intended. This film is incredible packed with the true ideals which so many Americans remember as the very fiber of early Americanna. Easily Recommended. ****
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If you get a chance, watch it.
gatsby0624 February 2007
How many movies have you watched that you barely remember a week later? And how many movies have you watched just once, yet you remember them decades later? Our Vines Have Tender Grapes is the later. I have only seen it once or twice, yet it has left an indelible mark.

This is not a movie with fireworks and hyped up characters. It is a classic "slice of life" type movie that seems such a naturalistic rendition of life on a midwest farm. And what makes it work so marvelously is the beautifully natural acting of all concerned, especially Margaret O'Brien, who is an absolute delight to watch. There have been some great child actresses, but none better and more natural than her.

And for those mainly familiar with his bad guy roles, Edward G. Robinson's more relaxed and gentle acting style here is a revelation. Robinson was so typecast that one assumes he was playing himself; but here we see by contrast how great his criminal thug performances truly were.

Agnes Moorehead was a truly great actress whom the current generation may not be familiar with. This movie is a great way to see her at her finest.

While there are some truly great actors in the current generation, as good as any in the past, there is so much bad acting that bad acting almost seems natural in the movies and on TV. Should we mention Titanic here? But with truly great acting, actors don't look like they are acting. This movie is the personification of great acting. Perhaps it would be a good idea for every actor and director to watch Our Vines Have Tender Grapes once a year as a reminder of what their craft is about.

This movie does not get a lot of air play. If you see it in the schedule or find it in a store, watch it! You won't forget it.
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A fantastic, heartwarming movie -- a movie the way real movies should be and sometimes were, before the advent of hype and CGI.
angelofvic24 July 2006
A Norwegian farmer lovingly raises his daughter in rural Benson Junction, Wisconsin.

I can't say enough good stuff about this truly excellent movie. I recommend it to everyone who loves good, meaningful, human, heartwarming movies. The movie stars Edward G. Robinson as the Norwegian farmer Martinius Jacobsen; and Oscar-winning child actress Margaret O'Brien (Tootie in "Meet Me In St. Louis") stars as his young daughter Selma -- although Martinius calls his daughter by a beautiful Norwegian word meaning "my girl." With a good supporting cast and an excellent plot, the movie describes the events in the life and the community and the townspeople of (small-town, largely Norwegian, largely agricultural) early 20th-century Benson Junction, Wisconsin -- focusing on the relationship between Martinius (perhaps cinema's greatest and most loving father ever) and his beloved daughter Selma.

Our Vines Have Tender Grapes has the unmistakable ring of truth because it is based on George Victor Martin's book of the same name, the story of his Norwegian wife Selma's childhood.

The movie is a rare treat in that it is utterly devoid of glitz, glamour, audience manipulation, special effects, or sensationalism, but yet it is engaging, and even riveting, from start to finish, and feels like one of those great, beloved novels that you can't put down because they are so personal and meaningful. The movie may leave you misty-eyed.... In any case, it will definitely leave you wanting more, and having a sense of wonderment that such a beautiful, meaningful, lovely movie exists, and you'll want to keep it in your heart forever.

My rating: 10/10.
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A Joyful & Tender Childhood Recollection
MissRosa29 February 2000
In the spirit of Booth Tarkington (The Magnificent Ambersons, Alice Adams) and Willa Cather (O Pioneers) comes this moving memoir of a young Wisconsin girl, her life on her parent's farm, and her love for her father. There are similarities to other children's novels, such as Heidi, but the fact is, here is a film that children may enjoy, but adults need to see even more.

Bother the writing and the acting here is superior... What could have been nothing but sentiment and triteness is transformed by the lucid, intelligent, quavering realness of Margaret O'Brien, the warmth, gentleness and subtlety of Edward G. Robinson, and to top it all off, the brusque affection and wariness of Agnes Moorehead. A dream cast. (Not who you'd expect, but, because of their great talent, they fit the roles like a glove).

The script is more subtle and meaningful than anyone could have dared to expect. The characters are real people who are living life the best they know how, and caring for each other. It is probably inevitable that someone will compare The Vines to one or another of Capra's greatest films.

That's just fine. There's always room for another quiet masterpiece. Especially one so full of compassion.
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Great little gem
wes-121 February 2001
There is nothing flashy or tremendously exciting about this movie. It is simply a quiet little gem focusing on childhood innocence and family love. You don't see many movies like this anymore with good charachters, no swearing or anything off color and with a good message to boot!
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Strangely Compelling
misspoppy23 August 2000
I was first drawn to this movie because it draws heavily on Swedish immigrant culture in the mid-1900s. My family was a Swedish farm family and there was a comfortable familiarity about the movie.

It's also a sentimental movie, but not in a saccharine way. The cadence is very slow and deliberate, like old Laurel and Hardys, or Thin Red Line. But because of this it makes you settle in and think about all the things that are happening to this family and their community. The sweetness is cut by ordinary tragedies, though these could have been better developed.

The movie celebrates family values, but not in a harping rhetorical sense. This is about family members who truly love each other, and stay open to and embrace changes from both outside and within. I was touched by this movie, and found it to be healing of my ideas regarding family.

Excellent performances by Moorhead, Robinson and O'Brien.
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syrupy but in a good way
MartinHafer10 June 2005
This movie does seem a bit saccharine in parts but because it was so well-crafted and the acting was so good, this can be easily forgiven.

This is a sweet story of a nice farm family as seen through the eyes of their young daughter (Margaret O'Brien) and her little playmate (Butch Jenkins). O'Brien did a marvelous job (not an over-the-top performance like she had done in a few of her earlier movies) but Butch Jenkins was not exactly the brightest star on the stage. In the 1940s, MGM tried VERY hard to make Jenkins the next child star and he was marketed strongly. The only problem was that he couldn't act very well and he seemed like, at best, not the most attractive child on the screen. Despite this, the movie still is carried off quite well.

Edward G. Robinson plays the patriarch of the family and proves that his acting range was far superior to what is commonly assumed. No sign of Little Caesar in this performance! Instead, he is gentle, caring and above all, decent.
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Simple yet Complex--and Very Moving
CommieTT9 April 2000
Altruism personified is what I believe the goal of this movie was. And not in an unrealistic way, but in a truly human way. Too bad more people haven't seen the film, because it is a real gem.

My rating: 10
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Sentimental but wonderful
susan-1914 May 2004
Not only is it interesting to see Edward G. Robinson and Agnes Moorehead play against type the movie has an amazing scene of a Wisconsin farmer that is the antithesis of the rest of the movie. Real and profound. Not that all the characters and the movie itself don't have a bygone, sentimental Americana appeal.

Margaret O'Brien reflects her era and the film is anachronistic but Dalton Trumbo's writing manages a more universal message. I had never heard of this movie before and Turner Classic Movies keeps surprising me with their treasure trove. Get out your handkerchiefs.
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Edward G. Robinson was FANTASTIC !
whpratt19 January 2004
Edward G. Robinson,(Martinius Jacobson),"The Sea Wolf",'41, showed to the American public that he could perform in any role. It was hard for me to believe that Edward G. could play such a role with child actress, Margaret O'Brien (Selma), where they were both able to present a very warm and sweet loving relationship in the farm country of Wisconsin. (There Swedish accents were fantastic!) Agnes Moorehead (Bruna Jacobson),"Dragon Seed", '44 gave a great supporting role and was a great dramatic classic actress through out her entire acting career and also a very enjoyable role in "BEWITCHED" TV Series. It is great that the US Government put EDWARD G. on a POSTAGE STAMP, he deserved it!
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A very simple movie with a very simple story but also with a very warm feeling.
Boba_Fett113827 April 2006
This is a movie with a very simple story, a simple setting and with simple characters. Yet everything in the movie comes perfectly together and works out fine. Because of this the movie has a very warm and, honest and tender feeling.

It sounds like a cliché but they really don't make movies like this anymore. If a movie like this would be made today it would be regarded as; sappy, over-the-top and just lame. However this film was not made in the 00's, it was made in the '40's, during the end of WW II. The movie its story and backdrops suite the time-period perfectly. It perfectly knows to capture the innocent life without any big problems, of an average American farming community, consisting out of Norwegian immigrants.

Let's face it, there is no main plot line present in the movie. The movie is just basically the one event after the other, as seen through the eyes of the two children Selma and Arnold, played by the child stars Margaret O'Brien and Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins. Most of the events don't really have a lot to do with another or have a very significant meaning for the story but that is at the same time why this movie feels so real and honest. It doesn't really try to force anything (although there are still some forced moments in the movie.) and make the movie an almost documentary like observation of the farming community. Not everything in the movie works out but the moments that do work out are good and powerful enough to make the movie a success.

It's a movie about the very simple things in life, which often are the most precious things. It are the smallest things that makes us happy and smile. This movie shows that and has that special kind of feeling written all over it.

Margaret O'Brien was a real talented child star and she plays a fine role in this movie, even though of course by today standards she is completely overacting and overly cute. One of the strongest and most reliable things in the movie is Edward G. Robinson in the role of a greatly portrayed gentle character, that gives the movie an extra warm and realistic feeling at certain moments.

Yes, it's a sappy movie, especially of course by todays standards but its a very honest and warm movie. I by no means would call this movie a masterpiece, classic, or a must-see but it's a movie worth watching when you get the chance to.


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Wholesome, heart-warming type of film not made any more...
Doylenf19 September 2006
MARGARET O'BRIEN was at the top of her child star career when OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES opened at Radio City Music Hall to appreciative audiences. You have to wonder how a film with a tale as simple as this would fare with today's audiences.

Unexpected casting of EDWARD G. ROBINSON and AGNES MOOREHEAD as a Norwegian farming couple in Wisconsin pays dividends. They're both excellent throughout, never allowing the sentimental aspects of the story to become too cloying. Margaret and little BUTCH JENKINS, the freckle-faced kid from THE HUMAN COMEDY, are excellent as the kids experiencing the joys and perils of growing up on a lonely farm.

For added romantic interest, there's JAMES CRAIG, MGM's dependable and pleasing male personality resembling the studio's own Clark Gable, and FRANCES GIFFORD as a schoolteacher tired of her provincial life in the country.

Not everyone will like this sort of family film, but fans of EDWARD G. ROBINSON should certainly check this one out.
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Ed years for a shed.
RockySchlockyRobot11 December 2006
My friend's badgering proved to be almost worth my time as I watched this sweet movie, starring Edward G. Robinson in a fantastically uncharacteristic role.

He plays a father and a farmer, trying to raise his daughter well, help his community and still get enough laid aside for himself so that he can one day own the shed of his dreams.

The small Norwegian community is very much like a close-knit Amish community and nobody is a stranger here, or at least nobody stays a stranger for more than 5 minutes.

This film is about the kids though (the "tender grapes" I believe the title refers to) and a couple of winning performances take you from beginning to end with a smile on your face as the young boy and girl we spend the most time with alternate between sugary-sweet and realistically insolent.
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Simple and well-meaning...
moonspinner5522 January 2006
Nice, homey story of Norwegian farm family living in Wisconsin: Edward G. Robinson is the hard-working patriarch, Margaret O'Brien is his rambunctious, frequently teary-eyed child. An extremely sincere all-ages film, but also a bit plodding and corny. Robinson overcomes his miscasting with a heartfelt performance, O'Brien is typically fine, but it's Agnes Moorehead as the wife and mother who is really in tune with this material. The picture cannot escape saccharin, with several cloying sequences, but you can't say it doesn't have plenty of heart. The touching scene with the circus elephant is just one example of how the direction, the writing and the acting all work at once. **1/2 from ****
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Uplifting film on family and Christian values
JuguAbraham31 January 2002
I loved this film at various levels.

The immigrants are from Norway. The typical portrayal of Scandinavian repressed emotions make this appear more like a European film than a Hollywood film.

Watching the movie 55 years after it was made, I commend the film-makers who chose to do serious films with children in the lead. Yet it is far from a conventional children's film of today with several lines in it that are obviously aimed at adult audiences. A film in made in the Seventies that come very close to this one is the remarkable "Lies my father told me" made by an East European director in America.

The film/novel reinforces the importance of parent-child relationships, with an unusual playing down of the mother-child relationship. The kids stole the show.

All the performances were credible, even those with small roles. Robert Surtees (the cinematographer), the novelist George Martin, the legendary Dalton Trumbo have evidently contributed their mite to this enjoyable uplifting film even though the sequence of the killing of the squirrel early in the film was contrived and not credibly directed.
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One for lovers of sentimental Americana.
JohnHowardReid5 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Producer: Robert Sisk. An M-G-M picture. Copyright 1 September 1945 by Loew's Inc. New York opening at the Radio City Music Hall: 6 September 1945. U.S. release: September 1945. U.K. release: 7 January 1946. Australian release: 16 May 1946. 9,584 feet. 106 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: In southern Wisconsin's Norwegian farm community of Benson Junction, the Jacobson family - Martinius, Bruna, and little daughter Selma - live modestly but happily. Martinius is a strict father, but also compassionate - he comforts grief-stricken Selma after she accidentally kills a squirrel, and takes her to the train station in the middle of the night to see a circus elephant in transit.

Some excitement arrives with pretty Viola Johnson, the town's new schoolteacher. She finds romance with Nels Halverson, editor of the town newspaper. Though Viola loves Nels, she fears the thought of marriage, finding the simple life of the town rather dull.

NOTES: Although it garnered no Oscar nominations and figured in no critical "Ten Best" lists (despite some most enthusiastic reviews), the movie was one of M-G-M's top domestic boxoffice attractions of the year.

COMMENT: Charming rural pastorale (what other sorts of pastorales can you have?), with some fine players at their most charismatic. Not much action, outside of a fire, but plenty of warmth. A beautifully photographed family picture for lovers of sentimental Americana.

We could run through the cast list, commending cameos here and there, but will content ourselves with this word of praise for Frances Gifford and Dorothy Morris.

Doubtless the fine acting was partly due to the guidance of Roy Rowland, whose direction in other aspects is at its most nondescript. But Vines is the sort of picture where more forceful direction might even prove a handicap. The leisurely pace is part of its charm.

OTHER VIEWS: Sandwiched between The Woman in the Window and its spin-off Scarlet Street, this movie indeed represents a marked change of style and character for Edward G. Robinson. But the actor not only takes the switch in firm stride, but even more importantly, brings his audience along with him.
  • JHR writing as George Addison.
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