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Adapted from the best-selling novel by Jessamyn West, Friendly Persuasion is set in Southern Indiana in the early days of the Civil War. Gary Cooper plays Jess Birdwell, patriarch of a Quaker family which does not believe in warfare. Birdwell's son Josh (Anthony Perkins) wishes to adhere to his family's pacifism, but is afraid that if he doesn't sign up for military service, he'll prove to be a coward. Josh joins the Home Guard, which disturbs his mother Eliza (Dorothy McGuire). But Jess Birdwell realizes that his son must ...

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Kathleen M

Aug 17, 2011

Underrated film improves with time

This gentle 1956 film about a Quaker family living in pre-Civil War southern Indiana has been criticized for inadequately portraying Quakerism. To my mind, the central story is the Gary Cooper role of Jess Birdwell, the family patriarch. A convert to the pacifist way of life by virtue of his marriage to a Quaker wife, one is never quite sure of the depth of Jess's Quaker convictions. He brings an organ into the house; he succumbs to the urge to race his horse against that of a fellow Quaker on their way to Friends' Meeting. As the Civil War comes to their doorstep, family and neighbors deal with conflicting decisions in a story that seems to make no endorsements of any one particular point of view. A wonderful movie.

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