Our Vines Have Tender Grapes

Our Vines Have Tender Grapes is a 1945 American drama film directed by Roy Rowland, and starring Edward G. Robinson and Margaret O'Brien.[1][2]

Our Vines Have Tender Grapes
Theatrical poster
Directed byRoy Rowland
Produced byRobert Sisk
Screenplay byDalton Trumbo
Based onOur Vines Have Tender Grapes
1940 novel
by George Victor Martin
StarringEdward G. Robinson
Margaret O'Brien
Music byBronislau Kaper
CinematographyRobert Surtees
Edited byRalph E. Winters
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • September 6, 1945 (1945-09-06)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States


The movie is based on the 1940 novel of the same name by George Victor Martin (1900–1959),[3] about the Norwegian-American residents of a small Wisconsin farming community. The farming community of New Hope, which was actually Benson Corners, Portage County, Wisconsin was the inspiration for the book.[4] The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo and was his last before being blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee; Margaret O'Brien later said the movie was largely ignored for decades afterwards because of Trumbo's political troubles.[5]

Told from the viewpoint of little Selma (O’Brien), the film explores grand childhood adventures: making friends, a pet calf, Christmas, a terrifying trip down a flood-swollen river, a barn fire and a ride on a circus elephant’s trunk. Its title comes from Chapter 2, Verse 15 in the Song of Solomon in the King James version of the Bible, which reads "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes."


The story is about a Norwegian immigrant farmer in Wisconsin, Martinius Jacobson (Edward G. Robinson), his wife Bruna (Agnes Moorehead) and their seven-year-old daughter Selma (Margaret O'Brien), who is often bedeviled by her playmate and five-year-old cousin Arnold (Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins). Martinius simply wants to work his land and be a loving husband and father to his family. The one great ambition in the life of Martinius is to build a new barn, but tragedy strikes. How the family copes with that is the core and the charm of the film.

Selma lives a carefree, joyous life, which is only temporarily clouded by the sudden death of Ingeborg Jensen (Dorothy Morris), an emotionally disturbed young woman whose stern father (Charles B. Middleton) had refused to let her attend school despite the pleas of newly arrived schoolmarm Viola Johnson (Frances Gifford).

Inspired by young Selma, the entire town of Fuller Junction come to the aid of proud Bjorn Bjornson (Morris Carnovsky), who has lost his livestock when lightning struck and burned down his newly erected—but uninsured—barn. When Selma generously donates her pet calf to the impoverished farmer, the townspeople in general, and Martinius in particular, follow suit, prompting Viola to reconsider her harsh views of country life and retract her letter of resignation to the school board.[6]



The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


  1. Variety film review; July 18, 1945, pg. 34.
  2. Harrison's Reports film review; July 21, 1945, pg. 114.
  3. For Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, WorldCat.org database
  4. "Small Communities, Benson Corners," Portage County (Wisconsin) Historical Society
  5. TCM Night at the Movies: Merry Christmas!
  6. Our Vines Have Tender Grapes at AllMovie
  7. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.
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