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JACQUES TOURNEUR'S 'STARS IN MY CROWN' STARS JOEL MCCREA

Poster image from Stars in my Crown YEAR: 1950
The most memorable scene adorns the poster artwork: A just-arrived in a small town preacher, played by Joel McCrea as Josiah Grey, pulls out his six-shooters in a noisy saloon before reading the Bible in that same, suddenly quiet one...

Insert Poster Art
This during a through-narration by an off-screen adult version of child actor Dean Stockwell, who plays the orphan son, John. And about fifteen minutes in, the town's old, dying doctor asks Josiah if he remembers what he and the audience could never forget... That should have been repeated a few times — his thing, as it were, in acquiring a captive audience at gun point...

Although as blunt as Reverend Josiah is, there's a passive, non-violent streak despite having fought through the Civil War... side-by-side with rowdy atheist Alan Hale, whose giant eldest son is future GUNSMOKE star James Arness)... which gives McCrea half a dozen stories to tell within pockets of rural lakeside scenery that director Jacques Tourneur serves throughout a creative camera that enters and exits locations, along with the townspeople who, themselves, are the sole plot, or intentional lack of. Anyone looking for shades of the action-packed WICHITA, the actor and director's third, final and greatest Western collaboration, will be disappointed (STRANGER ON HORSEBACK lies in-between). This small town's viewed with an optimistic revere of lost youth, but not without deep shades of Tourneur's signature dark and Gothic undertones...

Future Gunsmoke Miss Kitty Amanda Blake
As the darkest character is the new young doctor (son of the inevitably dead one) played by James Mitchell, who doesn't think much of McCrea's "medicine of Prayer," and has an eye for soon-to-be GUNSMOKE saloon owner Amanda "Miss Kitty" Blake as Faith: although sadly, future Kitty and Marshall Dillon never share a scene...

Eventually, in a somber and dragged-out third act, as she lies near-death from a town epidemic, STARS IN MY CROWN has some difficulty keeping the residents as interesting as the location itself...

One sequence has a traveling magician snake-oil type doing an almost ten minute show, taking far more time than any of the earlier conversations between the kid and a wise old former slave, who's being threatened to sell his small piece of land: Making this time-period drama more of a voyeuristic passage back in time than an idyllic entry into the Western genre. McCrea has sincere strength within the usual deadpan yet dependable persona. But most credit goes to Tourneur's gift of creating a melodic enchantment to what might've been merely a passable feature otherwise.
Another future GUNSMOKE actor James Arness with Alan Hale in his last role Stars In My Crown
Amanda Blake and James Mitchell with the worst child actor ever, Jimmy Moss STARS in my CROWN
James Mitchell and Amanda Blake STARS IN MY CROWN Amanda Blake
Charles Kemper provides a very long scene/act with Dean Stockwell STARS in my CROWN
Joel McCrea holding up a saloon to preach in in STARS IN MY CROWN
Ellen Drew the pretty pastor's wife in STARS IN MY CROWN
Part of that old Val Lewton/Jacques Tourneur magic darkness w/ James Mitchell Stars in my Crown
Joel McCrea STARS IN MY CROWN Joel McCrea
Amanda Blake STARS IN MY CROWN Amanda Blake Miss Kitty Gunsmoke Stars in my Crown
Jacques Tourneur STARS IN MY CROWN Jacques Tourneur
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