OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES

(1945)
With Edward G. Robinson, Margaret O'Brien, Agnes Moorehead, Jackie Jenkins
Directed by Roy Rowland
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

Our Vines Have Tender Grapes      A charming, touching and virtually plotless film about one year in the life of a Norwegian farmer, his daughter and his town during World War II.  Edward G. Robinson is perfect in one of his most atypical roles as farmer Martinius Jacobsen, who, despite his near-perfect life, still finds himself longing for something more.  Your enjoyment of the film may hinge on your tolerance for young Margaret O'Brien's specially patented brand of precociousness, but I find her hard to resist whether she is looking at a circus elephant with wide-eyed wonder or trying to understand the death of a squirrel she accidentally kills with a casually tossed rock.  Robinson and O'Brien are splendid together, Agnes Moorehead contributes a tasteful and restrained performance as Mrs. Jacobsen, while Jackie "Butch" Jenkins makes for an amusing friend for the young O'Brien, his impassive Buster Keaton face playing against O'Brien's ever-changing emotions.

     Filmed at MGM, with all the splendor that studio was known for, OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES only falters when it dwells on the boring love story between the town's newspaper editor and the new school teacher.  Otherwise, VINES is a splendid piece of Americana that shares structure and theme with that other classic featuring Margaret O'Brien, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS - JB

Edward G. Robinson     The Stuff You Gotta Watch


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