Tap Roots Film Details
Overview: In 1860s Mississippi, the Dabneys, founders of the Dabney plantation in Levington, experience tragedy and turmoil when they refuse to join either side of the American Civil War.
Tagline: When she lost her lover…her sister gained one!
Review: “Tap Roots” is a very good Southern drama set in Mississippi at the start of the Civil War. The story evolves around the Dabney family in the Lebanon Valley. Big Sam Dabney had settled the area and befriended a native Choctaw Indian, Tishomingo. He became a faithful companion and overseer of the Dabney estate and valley, with Sam’s son, Hoab. Hoab’s three children are Bruce, Morna and Aven. Big Sam wants to see Morna married to her fiancé, Clay MacIvor, before he dies. MacIvor is a captain in the Army, and he and Morna are having an elegant home built. He won’t marry until the house is finished; then, at the threat of war, he has further reason to wait. MacIvor’s sentiments are strongly with the South, should it secede from the Union. But the Dabney men want no part of secession. A third main character enters the story after Big Sam dies. Keith Alexander, publisher and editor of an influential and widely read newspaper writes a glowing tribute to Sam. But, Bruce thinks it’s an insult to his grandfather. Tishomingo rides with Bruce to confront the editor, who had a reputation as a lady’s man and for killing 20 men in pistol duels. Tishomingo’s presence was to ensure that Bruce didn’t become one of those dueling casualties. But all turns out well after the mature and wiser Alexander sidesteps Bruce’s charge and apologizes. He insists on going with them to apologize to the whole family. Most of the family befriend Alexander who falls for Morna. But he and MacIvor have an immediate dislike for one another. Thus begins a drama of war, romance, hatred, betrayal, revenge and love. The film has a superb cast. Both leads are Oscar-winners – van Heflin (Alexander) having won his in 1943 for his supporting role in Johnny Eager. Susan Hayward (Morna Dabney) would win her best actress Oscar in 1959 for “I Want to Live.” Others include Julie London (as Aven), Ward Bond (as Hoab), Richard Long (as Bruce), Russell Simpson (as Big Sam), Ruby Dandridge (as Dabby), Arthur Shields (as Rev. Kirkland), Whitfield Connor (as Clay MacIvor), and Boris Karloff (as Tishomingo). Most of these and other supporting roles were very good. A few tidbits about various members of the cast are worth noting. Arthur Shields had a fine film career but never became as famous as his brother, Barry Fitzgerald. This is one of the few straight dramatic roles that Boris Karloff had in a career of more than 200 films, including 60 in the silent era. Karloff is widely recognized for his monster and horror films since playing Frankenstein in 1931. But he played diverse roles in early years. Ward Bond was well recognized over time as a solid sidekick to leading men in tons of Westerns, war films, mysteries and other action films. His career spanned just under 30 years. He died of a heart attack at age 57 in 1960. Except for Karloff who lived to be 81 and died in 1969, the rest of the leads in this film all had short lives. Three of them would die in the early 1970s. Van Heflin died of a heart attack in 1971. He was 61. But, Richard Long was only 47 when he died in 1974, after several heart attacks. And, Susan Hayward died in 1975 at age 57 of brain cancer. This movie was based on a 1942 novel of the same title by James Street. It was the second of five books in his highly popular series about the Dabney family of Mississippi. While fictitious, the story borrows from history and legend, including the life of Newt Knight and Jones County, Mississippi. There was such a non-secessionist faction and area of Mississippi at the start of the Civil War. Knight was a very real person with a long and interesting history. Street, himself, had a short but interesting life. He was a one-time minister who worked as a journalist before becoming a full-time author. And, he was just 50 when he died of a heart attack. Others of Street’s stories have been made into films. A short story in 1937 led to a hilarious comedy that year, “Nothing Sacred,” that starred Frederic March and Carole Lombard. That also inspired the 1954 Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy, “Living It Up.” “Tap Roots” couldn’t match the performances or productions of the best pictures of 1948. It was one of those highly competitive years with many excellent films. But, it was no shame not to win honors against the likes of “Hamlet,” “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” “The Snake Pit,” “Johnny Belinda,” “Key Largo,” “Red River,” “Red Shoes,” “Easter Parade,” and many more superb films. And, “Tap Roots” did well at the box office, taking in $6.6 million against a budget of $2.1 million. A 2016 movie based on the same story didn’t fare as well. “Free State of Jones” that starred Matthew McConaughey, had only $25 million in domestic box office, against a budget of $50 million. This is a fine drama and true love story, with a picture of the South before the Civil War. While the issue of slavery is in the background, this story is about one family, its independence and its tradition of respect for all people. Oh, yes, and just because this is a Civil War period movie that has romance, don’t think it’s anything like “Gone with the Wind” of 1939. They’re two completely different stories, with very different characters. Here are a couple of lines from the film. Morna Dabney, “Aven, honey, I’d hate to see you die young. I’d really hate it.” Keith Alexander, “I give you fair warning. I’m gonna keep on making love to you whether you marry him or not.”
Country: United States
Duration: 109 min
Genre: Drama, Romance, War
Also known as: Radacini primare,Minha terra, meu sangue,Den fagre jord,Omstreden aarde,Tap Roots,Raíces de pasión,Lunastettu maa,L’héroïque résistance,De stredo för sin rätt,Le Sang de la terre,Paixão e Sangue,O apostatis,In vuur en vlam,Dype Røtter,Das Tal der Leidenschaften,De heldhaftige weerstand,愛と血の大地,Raízes da Paixão,La quercia dei giganti