Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
An American historical writer, Calvin Johnson lives near the historic town of Kennesaw and he's a
proud member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for over 36 years. He's the author of the book,
When America Stood for God, Family and Country.
I’d Climb the Highest Mountain – by Calvin E. Johnson, Jr., 2/20/10
Cleveland , Georgia is the home of the Old Stovall Covered Bridge that bridges Chickamauga Creek. This 1890s
structure appeared in the movie I’d Climb the Highest Mountain.
Have you ever seen the movie I'd Climb the Highest Mountain?
This wonderful-classic movie was made during the 1950s, when families spent quality time at the movies where Coca Cola was a nickel, hot buttered popcorn
a quarter and for a mere quarter you might see a double-feature film, cartoon and newsreel. Parents did not worry about the sexual, bad language or graphic
scenes of the early films because most were family friendly.
It was also during June 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea and soldiers said goodbye to their mother, father, sister, brother and sweetheart to fight
a war many miles away from home.
America saw sad times during the 50s but there was also much excitement in the North Georgia Mountains . This was the year that the movie I’d Climb the
Highest Mountain was filmed in Georgia's red clay hills. The 1910 novel that became a movie was written by Georgia's own Corra Harris and was
entitled ‘A Circuit Rider’s Wife.’ It told the story of a young Methodist preacher and his bride as they moved to the Georgia hills to pastor a local
church. Much of the movie was shot around Helen and Cleveland in what is called the Blue Ridge Mountains .
When Corra Harris died in 1935, Hollywood screenwriter Lamar Trotti, an Atlanta , Georgia native, wrote the screenplay of her book. Trotti earned his
fame far from Georgia , but had kept his love of his home and its history. After World War II, Henry King, a successful director, worked with Trotti
to produce the movie for Twentieth Century-Fox. King had made the religious films ‘David and Bathsheba’ and ‘Song of Bernadette.’ He was born in
Christiansburg, Virginia .
Susan Hayward played the role of Mary Elizabeth, the preacher’s wife and narrates the story. Reverend William Thompson is played by William Lundigan. Both
give fine performances about a country preacher, his wife and the Christian life of a small town in the rural South. Their faith is tested by a deadly flu
epidemic, a child drowning at the church picnic and the miscarriage of their child. The faithful strength of this couple brings the people closer to one
another. Mary even talks a tight fisted old man out of money and buys Christmas presents for the poor children.
The supporting cast includes: Rory Calhoun and Gene Lockhart, father of actress June Lockhart. Alexander Knox, of the movie ‘ Wilson ’, played a non-believer
who was touched in the end by the goodness of the preacher and his wife. Even though Knox lost a child, he now sees his children just as happy as other
children and tells Reverend Thompson that he and his family would look into the future with an open mind.
There is an emotional scene where Minister Thompson asks all married couples to hold hands and repeat their marriage vows. This is a scene worth repeating---many
times! The movie's climax is classic Hollywood. Thompson, as a circuit-riding minister is transferred to another church. He and Mary bid their congregation
farewell. Susan Hayward became very fond of the mountain people, many of whom played extras.
An early 1900s automobile was needed for the movie. The producers found Otis Mason in South Carolina with a 1912 vintage Overland in running condition.
However, he was the only one who knew how to drive it. Mr. Mason appears in the movie as the driver and just had one line ‘Yes Ma’am.’ What would you
give for just one line in a movie? Especially a line that husbands use all the time!
The movie ends with the ‘Lords Prayer’ sung slowly and reverently. The original music by Sol Kaplan and music direction by Lionel Newman is wonderful.
This beautiful Technicolor classic is about the dirt roads, farmlands, old buildings and Georgia Mountain folks. Edward Cronjager received praise for
the films Technicolor cinematography.
‘I’d Climb the Highest Mountain ’ was filmed during the golden era of Hollywood . It premiered on February 17, 1951, at Atlanta Georgia ’s Paramount
Theater. Susan Hayward was honored by the Georgia State Senate with a resolution declaring her an ‘adopted daughter of Georgia .’ Hayward , born in
New York , married a Georgian and they made Carrollton, Georgia their home.
February 2011 will mark the 60th anniversary of the release of this grand movie. It should be re-released on DVD for all to enjoy because...
They don’t make movies like that anymore.
A freelance writer, Calvin Johnson lives near the historic town of Kennesaw and he's a
proud member of the Chattahoochee Guards Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans. He's the author of the book,
When America Stood for God, Family and Country. He is Chairman of the National and Georgia Division
Sons of Confederate Veterans Confederate History Month Committee and a 23 year resident of Kennesaw, Georgia
home of the famed locomotive “The General.”
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