When I was a girl, I didn’t have long and penetrating discussions with my dad. Rather, I connected most with him through movies. Several times before, I have mentioned that my dad introduced me to The Wizard of Oz. He also introduced me to Sergeant York, which is a great Gary Cooper film about a conscientious objector during World War I. Sergeant York was an Oscar nomination in 1941, and Friendly Persuasion was an Oscar nomination in 1956.
Although both movies feature Gary Cooper and although they both deal with conscientious objection, they are not exactly alike.
In Sergeant York, Cooper plays a serious person. After he is converted, he is absolutely resolved in following his religious beliefs. In Friendly Persuasion, Cooper is a bit less rigid and a bit more worldly.
Cooper’s wife, who is played by Dorothy McGuire, is an inflexible Quaker minister. When Cooper convinces his wife to join him, as he takes the family to the fair, we are thrust into the ways that his Quaker family are forced to make choices regarding the non-Quaker world, which lies around them. That becomes a central theme in the movie Friendly Persuasion.
If you will recall, we see the same theme repeated in the fabulous Jimmy Stewart movie Shenandoah and in the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot, which is also good.
In all of these movies, circumstances compromise the convictions of the pacifists. In Friendly Persuasion, we see that at that the basic nature of the pacifist is not destroyed by the actions that he has been forced to take.
In a Midwest, Mom-and-Apple-Pie, Vintage-Farm-Land way, Friendly Persuasion is a beautiful movie. The spirit of the movie is equally beautiful. I definitely believe that Friendly Persuasion is worthy of its Oscar nomination.
©Jacki Kellum February 22, 2016