In 1931, Elizabeth Rambeau comes from England to live in California with her aunt and uncle of a winemaking dynasty, who are still wealthy despite 12 years of Prohibition. Object: marriage ...
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In 1931, Elizabeth Rambeau comes from England to live in California with her aunt and uncle of a winemaking dynasty, who are still wealthy despite 12 years of Prohibition. Object: marriage to the heir of another vineyard, to further consolidate holdings in the Valley. But John Rambeau, Elizabeth's illegitimate cousin, has other ideas about who she should marry, and sharply opposes patriarch Philippe's refusal to sell wine grapes to bootleggers. John's activities bring violence to the valley, and soap opera to the Rambeau family...Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
"Grapes must be tutored to become good wines...and to know how to educate them is the art of a good winemaker."
The patriarch of a winemaking dynasty in 1931 Napa Valley welcomes his pretty young granddaughter from England--she thinks she's there for a visit, but her grandfather is plotting to marry her off to a cousin in order to absorb vineyard holdings and keep the winery in the family for future generations. Meanwhile, another cousin has an eye for the girl, though he's in the middle of a devil's bargain between Chicago gangsters and bootleggers ("modern dealings") due to the current Prohibition, all behind the old man's back. Wooden adaptation of Alice Tisdale Hobart's novel "The Cup and the Sword" is an exposition-heavy soaper full of hotheads spouting off, and Rock Hudson explaining everything to Jean Simmons (and to the audience) to keep her up to speed on the cast of characters, their functions and relationships to each other. If this story were to work at all, Hobart's book should have been thrown out or rethought altogether. There are too many people here with different agendas, too much conniving and manipulation, and melodrama as thick as a wine vat full of rotting grapes. Casey Robinson is responsible for the pedantic screenplay, which isn't much better than director Henry King's execrable staging (check out that welcoming dinner for Simmons, with everyone at one long table facing a swimming pool). The film, which gets off to a poor start with an awful theme song composed by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, has been produced with considerable polish, and it certainly benefits from Claude Rains' performance as grandfather Phillipe. Otherwise, overwrought and occasionally laughable. *1/2 from ****
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