A parson with a Bible and a six-shooter
For me, the most welcome Christmas miracle of all is watching a never-before-seen heartwarming, film on my Christmas vacation. In the past, my Christmas movie miracles have been Penny Serenade, The Shop Around the Corner, and All Ours to Give--films that I had never heard of or seen and watched them accidentally--or miraculously--at Christmas.
This year I almost didn't watch my Christmas movie miracle because the movie was made in 1950 and I rarely watch films from the 1950s. I'm not a film-noir gal, no jaded handsome men in dark alleys--nor a Western cowgal, riding the range in my vest and chaps. I prefer my men in tuxedos in art-deco furnished hotels. But this year, I ignored the strike against Stars in Crown because it had one huge--to quote from another Christmas movie--ginormous incentive to push the play button. The movie starred Joel McCrea.
Ain't he cute in his tux?
And Joel McCrea didn't let me down. I was positively enchanted when he strode into town in his black frock coat--OK, it's not a tuxedo--and Bible and six-shooter.
In this episodic, coming-of age movie about life in a small town after the Civil War, Joel McCrea plays the parson. The neighbors in the town generally help each other when they aren't burning down or stealing from each other. In other words, it's true to life. It also contains a powerful scene where Joel McCrea saves a black man from a mob. I would put Joel's speech to quell the mob against Gregory Peck's as Atticus Finch any day. The New Yorker called Stars in My Crown "one of the bravest and most daring Hollywood movies about race relations I’ve ever seen."
Joel McCrea quelling the mob without his six-shooter
I've been disappointed with several books that I read with young narrators, Cold Sassy Tree being the most disappointing. In that novel, I didn't believe the young narrator could understand or witness the information he conveyed. Stars in My Crown, on the other hand, was mostly perfect in presenting information from the young boy's (Dean Stockwell's) point of view--although when the young boy fell ill, the story did continue without him.
Dean Stockwell plays the narrator, here with Joel McCrea and Juano Hernandez
If you are looking for your Christmas movie miracle, look no further than Stars in My Crown.
Stars in My Crown was directed by Jacques Tourneur who directed Cat People and I walked with a Zombie.
The Hymn "Any Stars in My Crown"
Throughout the movie, Joel McCrea sings the hymn, "Any Stars in My Crown."
I am thinking today of that beautiful land
I shall reach when the sun goeth down
When through wonderful grace by my Saviour I stand
Will there be any stars in my crown. Will there be any stars in my crown.
When at evening the sun goeth down
When I wake with the blest in those mansions of rest
Will there be any stars in my crown.