STARS IN MY CROWN (1950) B/W 89m dir: Jacques Tourneur
w/Joel McCrea, Ellen Drew, Dean Stockwell, Alan Hale, James Mitchell, Lewis Stone, Amanda Blake, Juano Hernandez, Ed Begley, Charles Kemper, Connie Gilchrist, Jack Lambert, Arthur Hunnicutt, Norman Ollestad Jr., James Arness, Adeline DeWalt Reynolds, Ben Watson, Polly Bailey, William Clauson, Ralph Hodges, Charles Courtney, Jimmy Moss, Jessie Grayson, Wilson Wood, Snub Pollard, Victor Killian, Connie Van, Buddy Roosevelt; narrated by Marshall Thompson
This is a gentle and moving story of a rural minister in in a small Southern town. Adapted from the novel by Joe David Brown, the film "creates a warm feeling for characters and setting" (Leonard Maltin).
From Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall: "Tourneur invariably referred to Stars in My Crown, the first film of the post-RKO stage of his career, as his favorite, or at any rate one of his favorites, among his films. [Tourneur's RKO films include the Val Lewton productions CAT PEOPLE, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, and THE LEOPARD MAN.] He accorded it a special place in his personal myth: the only film that he fought to do, Stars in My Crown was also the one that almost ruined his career.
"His involvement in the project began when his friend Joel McCrea, who had been cast in the film, gave him the novel (by Joe David Brown) on which it was based. Tourneur 'fell in love' with the book and set about trying to get the assignment to direct it.
"I went to see the producer [William H. Wright] at MGM and I said, 'I want to make this picture.' He said, 'Jacques, I'm sorry, it's a B picture, a quickie, and we're going to put a contract director on it.' So I went to see Eddie Mannix who was the boss. He said the same thing: 'It's a little B picture. We can't pay your price.' To which I said to Eddie, 'I'll do this picture for nothing.' He said, 'Do you mean it?' 'Yes. Now that's cheaper than your contract director.' He said, 'I'll call you Monday.' Well, he called me Monday and he said, 'We're not allowed to pay you nothing because there's a Guild and we'll have to pay you the minimum.' So I said, 'Fine. Pay me the minimum.'
"Tourneur's willingness to cut his own rate in order to get the assignment cost him heavily in the long run, he said. Subsequently, studios interested in hiring him checked with MGM to find out how much he had been paid. 'Thus it happened that my salary decreased by two thirds. That's how I paid for my desire to shoot this film.'"