This film is almost completely lacking in dramatic cohesion. It is verbose and contradictory, and its complex plot relationships from Alice Tisdale Hobart’s novel, The Cup and the Sword begin with confusion and end in tedium.
The setting is the Napa Valley wine country in the waning years of Prohibition. The basic plot is a conflict between generations – the older, European-born vintners, headed by Claude Rains, with traditions of dedication to the craft, and the younger men, represented by Rock Hudson, who are interested in selling their crop to the highest bidders, even if it means their grapes will be made into bootleg liquor.
Some of the scenes are pure bathos, such as the one where Rock Hudson learns that he is actually the son of his uncle (Kent Smith). What’s lacking mostly in the script, and not supplemented in the direction, is an overall intelligence that would have appraised these complexities.
Hudson gives a sympathetic portrayal, but not a satisfying one, because his characterization is riddled by inconsistencies. Jean Simmons achieves involvement but little sympathy because her motivations are so sketchy and superficial. Claude Rains fares best.