There is something distressing about the haphazards of the soil’s human migrants, and all the squalor that one associates with their condition is brought to The Southerner. An adaptation [by Hugo Butler] from the George Sessions Perry novel, Hold Autumn in Your Hand, this film conjures a naked picture of morbidity. It may be trenchant realism, but these are times when there is a greater need. Escapism is the word.
The Southerner creates too little hope for a solution to the difficulties of farm workers who constantly look forward to the day when they can settle forever their existence of poverty with a long-sought harvest – a harvest that invariably never comes.
This is, specifically, the story of Sam and Nona, and their struggle to cultivate the rich earth of their mid-west farm. It is a farm beset by liabilities, of which lack of money and food are no small factors. Their home is a patchwork of sagging planks and misguided faith.
Zachary Scott and Betty Field give fine performances, as do Beulah Bondi, the grandmother, Percy Kilbride, Charles Kemper and J. Carrol Naish.
1945: Nominations: Best Director, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture, Sound