6.5/10
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9 user 3 critic

Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence (1939)

Approved | | Drama | 3 November 1939 (USA)
New York store clerk (Ford) joins a hobo (Conte) and an illegal immigrant (Rogers) heading for his newly bought land in Arizona.

Director:

Ricardo Cortez

Writers:

Dalton Trumbo (screen play), Leonard Hoffman (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jean Rogers ... Anita Santos
Raymond Walburn ... Prof. B. Townsend Thayer
Marjorie Rambeau ... Mamie
Glenn Ford ... Joe Riley
Richard Conte ... Tony Casselli (as Nicholas Conte)
Eddie Collins Eddie Collins ... Bill - Counterman at Diner
Ward Bond ... Hunk
Irving Bacon ... Sheriff Clem Diggers
Kay Linaker ... Nurse
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Storyline

During the Depression, New York City store clerk Joe Riley saves money and buys a piece of land in Arizona. He is determined to become a farmer. Not having enough money for a bus ticket to Arizona, Joe decides to hitchhike there. On the way he befriends illegal immigrant Anita Santos who came to America to escape the civil war in Spain. Joe also meets hobo Tony Casselli who agrees to help Joe start his new farming business. Tony, Joe and Anita travel by freight train and run into trouble with the train conductors and railway police agents. At a hobo camp, Tony bumps into his old friend, Professor Townsend Thayer who joins them and contributes his life experience and wisdom to the group. But their fellowship runs into trouble with a group of hobos led by a ruffian named Hunk. To make matters worse, the police is looking for Anita on an immigration charge. Into a small town, they run into law-and-order Sheriff Clem Diggers who becomes suspicious of them and especially of Anita. Low on ... Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 November 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nebo s zaborom kolyuchey provoloki See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA High Fidelity Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Richard Conte (billed as Nicholas Conte). See more »

Soundtracks

Forty-Second Street
(1932) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Variations in the score during the empire state building scene
See more »

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User Reviews

 
To Claim His Dream
24 March 2013 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Glenn Ford made his feature film debut, fourth billed, but in the lead in Heaven With A Barbed Wire Fence. Another one making his debut and fifth billed is Richard Conte under his real first name of Nicholas. Both were under Jean Rogers, Raymond Walburn, and Marjorie Rambeau.

It's a B picture programmer from 20th Century Fox so no great care was taken with this. It's a simple story of a young man who quite the New York City rat race, who has spent his savings on 20 acres of Arizona real estate sight unseen and has decided to be a farmer there, because it means he's his own boss. Most of the film is Ford getting to Arizona to claim his dream and what happens along the way.

Among other things he meets Jean Rogers who is in the country illegally as a Spanish refugee from their civil war. I'm still trying to figure out how illegal she could be if in fact she does have an American mother. Ford also meets Richard Conte who I have no doubt 20th Century Fox saw as their answer to John Garfield. These three make an interesting trio of vagabonds even after they're joined by Raymond Walburn as a hobo professor. In fact Walburn was a paleontology teacher at one time and in his performance he leaves you tantalizing hints about his background before he took to the road. Walburn steals the film in every scene he's in and that's not unusual.

Ford had only made one short subject before being cast in Heaven With A Barbed Wire Fence. Peter Ford's biography of his dad says that director Ricardo Cortez treated him like garbage on the set increasing his insecurities. Ford had nothing but contempt for him and vowed he'd never treat a fellow performer as Cortez treated him if and when he reached stardom. Oddly enough Ford who essayed many roles playing shy and diffident young men probably had his very nervousness working for him. Right after this when Fox didn't sign him after this film, he got his long term contract with Columbia Pictures.

Another winning part here is that of Marjorie Rambeau as a dance hall owner who renews an acquaintance with Walburn who isn't quite sure when and how he met her the first time. They played great off each other.

Heaven With A Barbed Wire Fence is a B film and sloppily put together, but the cast is fine and Glenn Ford's future was assured.


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