The Romance of Rosy Ridge

The Romance of Rosy Ridge is a 1947 drama film, directed by Roy Rowland, about a rural community bitterly divided during the aftermath of the American Civil War. It stars Van Johnson, Thomas Mitchell, and Janet Leigh in her film debut. It was adapted from the novel of the same name by MacKinlay Kantor.

The Romance of Rosy Ridge
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoy Rowland
Produced byJack Cummings
Written byLester Cole
Story byMacKinlay Kantor
StarringVan Johnson
Thomas Mitchell
Janet Leigh
Music byGeorge Bassman
CinematographySidney Wagner
Edited byRalph E. Winters
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • August 4, 1947 (1947-08-04)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,445,000[1]


Henry Carson (Van Johnson), a schoolteacher before the Civil War, shows up in a rural region of the Missouri hills. He spends the night with a family consisting of Gill MacBean (Thomas Mitchell), his wife Sairy (Selena Royle), and two of their children, Lissy Anne (Janet Leigh), and youngster Andrew (Dean Stockwell). Another son, Ben (Marshall Thompson), had run off to fight in the war; the family's hope that he will someday return is gradually waning.

Gill does not welcome the stranger, unsure of his allegiance, but the others like the good-natured young man, especially Lissy Anne. Henry offers to help with the farming; the MacBeans desperately need more hands, but Gill remains very suspicious of his motives. A band had been burning the barns of those still loyal to the defeated Confederacy; the MacBeans had been the latest victims. Henry, however, proves to be a hard worker.

When storekeeper and unofficial banker Cal Baggett (Guy Kibbee) visits the family to ask about repayment of a loan, Henry talks him into hosting a "play party", inviting everyone, regardless of affiliation, to help heal the rift in the community. Gill is strongly opposed to it, but Henry tricks him into bringing his family.

At first, the two groups do not mix, but Sairy talks Northern sympathizer Dan Yeary (Russell Simpson) into dancing with her, breaking the ice. Soon, everyone is having a very good time. However, an argument breaks out about the playing of a tune associated with the North. To forestall a fight, Cal calls for a vote. Unfortunately, it is a tie. Gill calls upon Henry to cast the deciding vote. Henry is finally forced to reveal that he fought in the Union army. After that, the party quickly breaks up, much to the secret delight of John Dessark (Charles Dingle) and his son Badge (Jim Davis).

Henry is no longer welcome at the MacBeans. He does not leave the area though; he starts building a schoolhouse.

Eventually, Lissy Anne can no longer bear to be apart from Henry. She walks away into the night with him, without her father's knowledge but with her mother's approval, after Henry escorts her brother home from the schoolhouse where he had walked to attend class. Gill tracks them down with a bloodhound, intending to shoot his would-be son-in-law. When five masked nightriders approach, Henry strikes Gill unconscious and seizes his rifle. The horsemen start shooting to kill. Taking cover Henry kills four and captures the fifth after a lengthy footchase and fistfight at a burnt-out dwelling. It is Badge Dessark. He confesses that his father is behind the raids, not out of loyalty to the South, but simply for financial profit. With the Dessarks hanged, the community starts to heal.

Finally, Henry reveals why he sought out the MacBeans. In a flashback, it is revealed that he first met Ben as they were walking across the hills to enlist in the war. As they traveled together singing and laughing, they became good friends. Approaching the turn-off signpost they decided in jest on a foot race to see who could be the first to reach it. Henry ended up on the north branch, with Ben on the south. They were momentarily silent on the choice that each had made. Henry proposed that they "take a five minute rest". Henry ultimately persuaded Ben into going north. Two days before the war's end, Ben was killed suddenly. Before dying, he made Henry promise to help the family with the crop harvest. After hearing Henry's quiet testimony of their deep trust and friendship, a teary-eyed Gill gives Henry and Lissy Anne his blessing to get married. Sairy reaches out to touch Gill's arm, offering agreement. As the wagon rolls down the road with Lissy Anne and Henry aboard, Andrew and the dogs climb in the back, to indicate that the picture is once more complete.



According to MGM records, the film earned $1,820,000 in the US and Canada and $625,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $533,000.[1][2]


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Variety says the film earned $2.2 million in US rentals - see "Top Grossers of 1947", Variety, 7 January 1948 p 63
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