The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947)
Janet Leigh makes an impressive debut alongside Van Johnson in this historical romance in which a farmer's daughter falls in love with a man who fought against her family in the Civil War. Into a Missouri farming community living in a state of constant tension due to conflicting pro-North and pro-South sentiments ambles ex-Union soldier Henry Carson (Van Johnson), who briefly camps out at the farm of unforgiving Confederate sympathizer Gill MacBean (Thomas Mitchell). Suspecting that Carson is up to no good, MacBean is outraged when the handsome stranger begins courting MacBean's daughter Lissy Anne (Leigh). Things come to a head dramatically when the heretofore easygoing Carson comes face to face with a band of hooded, night-riding barn burners who've been fomenting discord among the farmers.
- The Romance of Rosy Ridge is set in July, 1865, in southern Missouri. The title town is still fighting the War Between the States, by barn burning. It's partisanly divided, 23 families on each side. One staunch Confederate family, the MacBeans - Pa, Ma, daughter, (screen debut of Janet Leigh), and young son are waiting for word if their older son has survived the war. Pa fought for the first 2 years of the war; the son has been gone for the past 2. A harmonica playing stranger, (Van Johnson), arrives seemingly by chance, to help with the farm. He's immediately struck by Lissy Anne, and her by him. Carson is a school teacher by trade and intends to open a school in this community, where none exists. The romance between Lissy and Carson progresses slowly but surely. There is an abandoned farm nearby they plan to repair for a homestead, with "3 or 4" rooms. Tensions in town and barn flames are fanned by a northern sympathizer and his son. An attempt to bring the sides together with a dance goes awry and does more harm than good. The general store owner and Carson put the soiree together. At first, it goes well but despite the best effort of Ma MacBean, ends in more discord, as predicted hilariously by the store owner's wife and by Lissy's Pa, Gill. At the party, it's revealed that Carson fought for the Union, which gets him barred from seeing Lissy. The two finally meet up again at the abandoned farm, and kiss passionately. Pa comes to find them with rifle in hand, 5 bullets . Out of the woods comes the son of trouble and 3 henchmen, wearing black masks. Carson kills the henchmen with Pa's gun and after a chase, knife fight and a fistfight, brings the son in for justice. It turns out his father has been instigating all the violence and hatred to run people out of the valley in order to buy up the land cheaply. He and the son are hanged. Carson is about to open his school but must come clean to the MacBeans about why he intentionally came to their farm. Partially through a flashback, he recounts meeting Ben, their son, on the way to enlist in the army. They bond and Carson learns to play Ben's harmonica. They come to a fork in the aptly named Liberty Road. Carson heads north and Ben south. Coming back to sit on a log and talk, Carson explains what he's fighting for - a country where all are free, no matter what color. Evidently Ben agreed because he goes north with Carson and is killed 2 days before war's end. Carson had promised Ben he'd go to help his family bring in the crops. After relating the whole story, Gill MacBean, with tears on his face, tells Carson to use his wagon to take Lissy to school. His young son and two dogs jump into the back of the wagon as it rolls down the lane.