For two years the Civil War has been elsewhere. Now Confederate forces are nearby, looting and burning. It is time to fight back, Jess Birdwell's neighbors insist. Yet Birdwell, a Quaker, knows there must be a better wa... more »y to settle things. Year: 1956 Director: William Wyler Starring: Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire« less
Diane C. from HOLIDAY, FL Reviewed on 10/17/2009...
Haven't seen this movie in years but thoroughly enjoyed watching it again. One of my favorites and nice change to see family values in the old movies. Most new ones are to violent.
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Cooper is magnificent
Candace Scott | Lake Arrowhead, CA, USA | 07/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a lovely movie, beautifully photographed on location (no phony Hollywood sets here). The performances are stellar throughout, but Gary Cooper is outstanding as the family patriarch. Watch him acting, the subtle shifts in gait, his facial expressions and nuances make him the great star that he was. They don't make 'em like Cooper anymore. Anthony Perkins is also excellent as the vacillating Josh Birdwell, the Quaker boy gone off to fight in the Civil War and Dorothy McGwire is quietly effective. There is much humor throughout the movie, you'll laugh our loud many times. This is a great movie for everyone in the family, adults and children alike. "Wholesome" is an old-fashioned concept, this this movie lives up to that billing."
For Hollywood, Not Bad
Jedidiah Palosaari | Fes, Morocco | 08/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There's been a lot of give and take on this movie, questioning how good it is at representing true Quakers, and rightfully so. But as a member of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends, I enjoyed it. It is fairly well acted, and full of humor. It also is probably the best one can expect from Hollywood as far as accuracy.
The humor itself is very revealing, often circling around the tendency now, and especially during the Civil War, for Friends to lapse into legalism- such as in issues of dancing, gambling, singing, and racing- in their attempt to truly follow the Spirit and the Word. The movie also accurately represents the wide range of views that Friends had in response to taking up arms in the Civil War (and again in the World Wars), with some choosing to fight and some to nonviolently resist. It brings up the interesting questions of how to respond to one's son who chooses to kill another human, when one wants to honor the child's ability to listen to God.
There are other glimmers of philosophy: the difference between militancy and militarism, as displayed by one strong-feeling pacifist Quaker at the beginning; some wonderful nonviolent action practiced by Gary Cooper and his wife upon each other. She doesn't want an organ in the house, so sleeps in the barn until he removes it. He responds by putting the organ in the house, and then going to sleep in the barn along side her, coming along with her suffering. The end result is compromise, because of the love shown in strong conviction.
I would have liked to see stronger convictions displayed by the Quakers represented. It does seem that too many of them choose the side of violence and darkness, or do not stick with their convictions. But at least one holds out. And I don't remember another movie I've ever seen where the man is shooting at his enemy, and yet crying at the same time- not from fear of war, but because he loves his enemy so much. The language of "thee" and "thou" was also grammatically inaccurate. A Friends production could have done better, but for Hollywood, it was pretty good. And I liked how, as I left the movie, I felt transported back to another time, when the greeting were still full of First Days and Friends."
An all but perfect movie
haleth | Springfield, MA USA | 06/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This gentle, sensitively crafted story of a loving Quaker family is the closest thing to a perfect movie I have come across.Usually touted as an anti-war film, Friendly Persuasion deals with young Josh Birdwell's (Anthony Perkins) crisis of conscience over whether to fight the Confederate forces that have invaded his home area. But, the film has a broader sweep as well, fitting Josh's struggle into the broader life of the Family. Sister Mattie is in love with a Methodist, son of Papa's friend Sam Jordan, with whom he races to Meeting and/or Church on Sundays. Little Jess, the youngest, has a mortal fude with Mama's pet goose Samantha.And, Mama and Papa? Different as their outlooks on life seem, they love each other very much. Without sinking to the maudlin this film, like The Sundowners, portrays two people who have been married for about twenty years and are totally, charmigly in love.The story takes place over just a few weeks, but the brief time-span allows for a depth of realization which, by the end, leaves the viewer feeling that she/he kknows and is very fond of this family.Perfect for snuggling with that special someone, or watchig as a family project."
About Quakers By A Quaker
ynscyp1 | Tacoma, Wa United States | 12/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is my favourite movie and I refer people to it often to explain the Quaker Distinctive of Non-Resistance (pacifism is something different). Based on the book by Jessamine West (who was also the consultant on the set), there are many 'inside' jokes only a Quaker (Friend) would get. Many non-Plain Faith people think we plod peacefully and quietly along through life (refering to noise level and degree of emotions), and that our children are born that way, too. This movie does an excellent job of showing we are all human, laugh, cry, etc., and especially why Quakers (Friends) do not bleieve in 'returning violence for violence done' (one of Dorothy McGuire's lines), why we do not believe in the 'glory' of war (there isn't any), and why we stress the sacredness of all human life. I also like how, when the teenage son (Anthony Perkins) feels compelled to choose differently, his dad reminds the mother (who is not just an Elder, but the Recorded Minsister of the Meeting) that one of the principal beliefs of Friends is each individual being directly responsible for their own actions/decisions to God through their individual consciences. An outstanding movie, with lots to keep you intertained and interested all the way through. Look for the humorous scene with Marjory Main (Ma from the Ma and Pa Kettle movies)."
A Serious Film, See Why Cooper Was So Great a Film Star
steve b | Dudley England | 01/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you want to know why Gary Cooper was once the worlds biggest film star watch this film. Cooper's performance like that of his co star Dorothy McGuire is of the highest order. Friendly Persuasion asks the question, what do people do when their beliefs are threatened by events?. In this case what are the Quakers of southern Indiania to do when their non violent beliefs are threatened by southern raiders during the American Civil War?
What this film makes clear is that there is no single answer. McGuire as a Quaker Elder tells a Union recruiting officer that Quakers are opposed to slavery, but that they would not kill one man to free another. She also admits that some Quakers have gone off to fight.
Later as the raiders get closer Anthony Perkins as Cooper's son tells his father he is prepaired to die fighting the raiders. Cooper reminds him that he will not be asked to die but to kill.
When he still insists on going off to fight McGuire begs Cooper to stop him. It is clear that this not because she is a Quaker but because he is her son and she fears for his life. Cooper tells her that each person must decide these things for themselves and answer to their own beliefs.
When a fellow Quaker urges Cooper to 'pick up the rifle', his Methodist friend ( Robert Middleton ) tells him that he will fight for the both of them.
Add a love interest and some comic scenes and you have a film well worth two hours of anyones time. As a Brit it also appears to me that as America was founded on the principal of religious freedom this is a film no American should miss."