Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945), starring Edward G. Robinson, Agnes Moorehead, Margaret O’Brien
Synopsis of Our Vines Have Tender Grapes
An endearing and quietly rhapsodic slice of Americana about a single year among the Norwegian immigrants in a Wisconsin farm town, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes enthralled 1945 audiences and critics with its timeless joys. Told from the viewpoint of little Selma (Margaret O’Brien), the film explores grand childhood adventures: making friends, a pet calf, Christmas, a terrifying trip down a flood-swollen river, a barn fire and a ride on a circus elephant’s trunk. In a change-of-pace role, Edward G. Robinson is a revelation of wisdom and compassion as Selma’s father, leading a fine cast that illuminates the profound power of everyday triumphs and sorrows.
Editorial review of Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, courtesy of Amazon.com
An earnest rural melodrama set among Norwegian immigrants in Wisconsin, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes is a slightly updated version of George Victor Martin’s 1940 novel. Edward G. Robinson stars as Martinius Jacobson, a farmer devoted to his wife Bruna (Agnes Moorehead) and precocious seven-year-old daughter Selma (Margaret O’Brien), whom he lovingly calls “Jente Mi.” Along with her freckle-faced five-year-old cousin, Arnold (Jackie “Butch” Jenkins), Selma lives a carefree, joyous life, which is only temporarily clouded by the sudden death of Ingeborg Jensen (Dorothy Morris), an emotionally disturbed young women whose stern father (Charles Middleton) had refused to let her attend school despite the pleas of newly arrived schoolmarm Viola Johnson (Frances Gifford).
The latter is quietly falling in love with Nels Halvorson (James Craig), the town newspaper editor, but cannot envision herself as a rural wife. She changes her mind when, inspired by young Selma, the entire town of Fuller Junction come to the aid of Bjorn Bjornson (Morris Carnovsky), who has lost his livestock when lightning struck a newly erected barn. When Selma generously donates her pet calf to the impoverished farmer, the townspeople in general, and Martinius in particular, follow suit, prompting Viola to reconsider her harsh views of country life and retract her letter of resignation to the school board