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FULL SYNOPSIS

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Jessamyn West, Jessamyn West is set in Southern Indiana in the early days of the Civil War. Gary Cooper plays Jess Birdwell, patriarch of a Quaker family which does not believe in warfare. Birdwell's son Josh (Anthony Perkins) wishes to adhere to his family's pacifism, but is afraid that if he doesn't sign up for military service, he'll prove to be a coward. Josh joins the Home Guard, which disturbs his mother Eliza (Dorothy McGuire). But Jess Birdwell realizes that his son must follow the dictates of his own conscience. Josh proves his courage to himself when he is wounded during a Rebel raid, while the elder Birdwell is able to stay faithful to his religious calling by not killing a Southern soldier when given both a chance and a good reason to do so. Allegedly, writer Jessamyn West nearly scotched her deal with producer/director William Wyler and distributor Allied Artists when Gary Cooper, taking his fans into consideration, insisted upon including a scene in which he forsakes his pacifism and takes arms against the Rebels. If true, then wiser heads prevailed, since no such scene exists in the final release print. Though uncredited due to his status as a blacklistee, Michael Wilson wrote the screenplay for Jessamyn West--and even won an Oscar nomination. Also nominated was the film's chart-busting theme song, "Thee I Love" (by Dmitri Tiomkin and Paul Francis Webster). The story was remade as a 2-hour TV pilot film in 1975. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Anthony Perkins Best Supporting Actor 1956 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Marjorie Main Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture 1956 Nominee
Directors Guild of America William Wyler Best Director 1956 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences William Wyler Best Director 1956 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences William Wyler Best Picture 1956 Nominee
National Board of Review Dorothy McGuire Best Actress 1956 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Gary Cooper Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama 1956 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Michael Wilson Best Adapted Screenplay 1956 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Dimitri Tiomkin Best Song 1956 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Paul Francis Webster Best Song 1956 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Gordon Sawyer Best Sound 1956 Nominee

Cast

Gary Cooper
as Jess Birdwell
Dorothy McGuire
as Eliza Birdwell
Anthony Perkins
as Josh Birdwell
Marjorie Main
as Widow Hudspeth
Robert Middleton
as Sam Jordan
Richard Eyer
as Little Jess
Phyllis Love
as Mattie Birdwell
Mark Richman
as Gard Jordan
Walter Catlett
as Prof. Waldo Quigley
Richard Hale
as Elder Purdy
Joel Fluellen
as Enoch
Theodore Newton
as Army Major
John Smith
as Caleb
Mary Carr
as Emma, Quaker Woman
Edna Skinner
as Widow Hudspeth's Daughter
Marjorie Durant
as Widow Hudspeth's Daughter
Russell Simpson
as Elder
Charles Halton
as Elder
Everett Glass
as Elder
Chuck Courtney
as Reb Courier
Harry Hines
as Barker
Earl Hodgins
as Shooting Gallery Operator
Donald Kerr
as Manager
Norman Leavitt
as Clem
Ivan Rasputin
as Billy Goat
Henry Rowland
as O'Hara
Joe Turkel
John Compton
as Rebel Lieutenant
James Dobson
as Rebel Soldier
Richard Garland
as Bushwhacker
Jean Innes
as Mrs. Purdy
Tom Irish
as Young Rebel
Mary Jackson
as Country Woman
Frank Jenks
as Shell Game Man
Diane Jergens
as Young Girl Elizabeth
Helen Kleeb
as Old Lady
Nelson Leigh
as Minister
Ralph Sanford
as Businessman
William Schallert
as Young Husband
James Seay
as Rebel Captain
Frank S. Hagney
as Lemonade Vendor
Jean Innes
as Mrs. Purdy
Nelson Leigh
as Minister
John Compton
as Rebel Lieutenant
James Dobson
as Rebel Soldier
James Seay
as Rebel Captain
William Schallert
as Young Husband
Harry Hines
as Barker
Diane Jergens
as Young Girl Elizabeth
Mary Jackson
as Country Woman
Tom Irish
as Young Rebel
Chuck Courtney
as Reb Courier
Norman Leavitt
as Clem
Ivan Rasputin
as Billy Goat
Frank Jenks
as Shell Game Man
Ralph Sanford
as Businessman
Earl Hodgins
as Shooting Gallery Operator
Donald Kerr
as Manager
Richard Garland
as Bushwhacker
Helen Kleeb
as Old Lady
Henry Rowland
as O'Hara

Crew

William Wyler
Director
William Wyler
Producer
Michael Wilson
Screenwriter
Jessamyn West
Book Author
Ellsworth Fredericks
Cinematographer
Dimitri Tiomkin
Composer (Music Score)
Paul Francis Webster
Songwriter
Robert Swink
Editor
Robert Wyler
Associate Producer
Joe Kish
Set Designer
Bert Henrikson
Costume Designer
Augie Lohman
Special Effects
Austen Jewell
First Assistant Director
Jessamyn West
Consultant/advisor
Emile LaVigne
Makeup
Irene Caine
Costumes Supervisor
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