"Come Next Spring" created quite a commotion in my hometown when first released in 1956, for the story and the setting is Independence County, Arkansas, in a real backwoods town called Cushman, once known for its mining activities, but no more. The movie refers to the community as Cushin. I don't know where "Come Next Spring" was filmed, but the location photography does resemble the landscape of present day Cushman. The town is still there with very few changes since pioneer days, except now the denizens do have electricity and indoor plumbing. My family didn't get the indoor plumbing until I was in college in the early 1960's. Having grown up in the area I'm here to tell you that the film only shows one side of small-town life in the hills and hollows of Arkansas. There is also the negative side of small-town America depicted by other films of the era such as "Picnic." That being said the idyllic side is worth a look see. The acting is topnotch and the story is supposedly based on a true incident about a man who deserted his family during hard times in the 1920's (The Great Depression began early for rural America). Unlike most lost men, however, he returned to his family after years of wandering to attempt to put things back together. Ann Sheridan and Steve Cochran give standout performances as estranged husband and wife trying to reconcile their differences. Sherry Jackson is magnetic as the mute daughter instrumental in restoring her parents' love for each other. There is also a wonderful assortment of character actors to play the local folks, including Walter Brennan, Edgar Buchanan, Sonny Tufts, Mae Clark, and James Best in one of his early roles. Though the Max Steiner music is good with Tony Bennett singing the theme, it is not apropos for Cushman, Arkansas, of the 1920's. Country (called hillbilly at the time) and folk music were about the only kind of music listened to in that area before the birth of rock 'n' roll, with many of the locals picking and grinning. It would have been more appropriate to have used a popular group of the genre, or even someone from the community. The number one song for 1956 was written by a performer from the general area, "Singing the Blues" by Melvin Endsley. Another noted musician from the area in those days was the multi-talented Wayne Rainey. Both were from near Batesville, which is the county seat of Independence County. Neighboring Stone County produced folk artist Jimmie Driftwood, who wrote "The Battle of New Orleans" and "Tennessee Stud." Using any of these artists would have added to the rural flavor of "Come Next Spring." But that was not the Hollywood way. If you liked "The Waltons" or "Little House on the Prairie," you should enjoy this movie, which to my knowledge is not available on DVD. It is seldom shown on satellite or cable television. So you may have a difficult time viewing a copy. But if you get the chance, don't miss watching it.
Come Next Spring
Come Next Spring
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In 1920s Arkansas, after a 12 year absence, reformed alcoholic Matt Ballot returns to his abandoned family but has to win them back and regain his hometown's respect too.
March 21, 2020