The Yearling

From Academic Kids

The Yearling is a 1946 film which tells the story of a boy who adopts a fawn as a pet. It stars Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman, Claude Jarman Jr., Chill Wills and Forrest Tucker.

The movie was adapted by Paul Osborn and John Lee Mahin (uncredited) from the novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It was adapted by Clarence Brown.

It won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color and Best Cinematography, Color and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Gregory Peck), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Jane Wyman), Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Picture.

Penny Baxter (a rebel soldier; Gregory Peck) and his wife Orry (Jane Wyman) become pioneer farmers in Florida after the American Civil War. Jody Baxter (Claude Jarman Jr.), a boy in his pre-teen years, is their only surviving child. Jody has a wonderful relationship with his warm and loving pa. Orry, however, is still haunted by the deaths of the three other children of the family; she's very somber and hard-hearted and is (strangely) afraid that Jody will end up dying if she shows her parental love to him. Jody finds her somewhat unloving and unreasonable. With all of his siblings dead and buried, Jody longs for a pet to play with and take care of. Penny is sympathetic and understanding, but Orry is rather disgusted. One day, when a rattler bites Penny, they kill a doe and use its organs to draw out the poison. Jody asks to adopt the doe's orphaned fawn; Penny permits it but warns Jody that the fawn will have to be set free when it grows up. Jody names the fawn "Flag" and soon, he and Flag are inseparable. One year later, Flag grows up and becomes a total nuisance to the household and farm; it eats newly-grown corn, destroys fences, and tramples on tobacco crops. Penny orders Jody to take the deer out into the woods and shoot it to death. Jody takes the deer out, but does not have the courage to kill it; he orders the deer to go away and never return instead. But Flag comes back to their property. Finally, Orry (who did not want the deer on their property in the first place) takes the gun and shoots it but only wounds it. She gives the gun to Jody and orders him to kill it. Rather than let his pet deer be in agonizing pain, he follows his mother's orders. The loss of Jody's beloved pet deer proves too much for him to handle; overwhelmed with anger and despair, he runs away from home. Three days later, he is rescued by a friendly boat captain and is sent home. Jody returns to find himself lovingly welcomed by Penny, who tells him that Orry had been out searching for him. After Jody goes to bed, Orry returns crushed, thinking that she and Penny have now lost Jody. When Penny tells Orry the good news, she happily runs into Jody's room and showers him with more affection than she ever gave him. She is no longer afraid to show her parental love to him.


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