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In the 1960 film, Wild River,
a love story involving Montgomery Clift
and Lee Remick
arises amid a conflict between necessary government interference and small-minded hostility—but also a sense of dignity—in the rural South. Clift plays a man working for the Tennessee Valley Authority; Remick plays the granddaughter of an old woman (Jo Van Fleet
) who sternly refuses to sell her land to the dam-building Feds before the inevitable flood comes. The sense of dignity is hers. Other rural inhabitants start hating the TVA man because a plan of his temporarily costs them money.
The film is one of Elia Kazan‘s best—a work of considerable realism and intelligence. A political picture, it never gets as tiresome as Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd. Not exactly an art film, with its pastoral long shots it nevertheless reflects the filmmaker’s admiration for the old-time Russian directors such as Pudovkin. Moreover, Wild River is usually impressively acted.