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Spencer's Mountain [DVD] [1963]

Release Date:07/08/2003
Somebody at Warner Home Video must have liked this movie. That's the only way to explain why or how Delmer Daves' Spencer's Mountain -- which used to get dumped into edited afternoon time slots on television, in panned-and-scanned form -- has arrived on DVD in a handsome edition like this. Starting with the movie itself, the 2.35-to-1 aspect ratio beautifully captures the original movie's Panavision aspect ratio, which means that those of us who weren't around to see it in 1963 can, at last, appreciate the time and expense that Daves went to, shooting on location in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. The backgrounds and setting are intoxicating in their beauty, and help overcome some of the movie's periodic awkwardness in dealing with such diverse matters as poor folks and sex. And backing up the presentation of the film are a featurette showing the movie's premiere in the Wyoming town where it was filmed -- including interviews with local townspeople and officials -- and period interviews with Henry Fonda. Additionally, the producers have included a good onscreen biographical portrait of author Earl Hamner as well as of the production of Spencer's Mountain, and its evolution into The Waltons. All of these features are accessible through an easy-to-use menu, and the movie has been further respected with the programming of 31 chapter markers, which is just right for the 118 minute feature.

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    Ratings & Reviews

    Overall Customer Rating:
    100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (5 out of 5)

    Special Features

    • Vintage documentary featurette: "Spencer's Mountain: Grand Teton Premiere"
    • Vintage interviews with Henry Fonda
    • "Spencer's Mountain and The Waltons" essay
    • Interactive menus
    • Theatrical trailer
    • Scene access
    • English, French, and Spanish subtitles
    • Closed Captioned


    Spencer's Mountain
    For a family picture, not to mention a story that later became the old-fashioned-values-affirming series The Waltons, Spencer's Mountain sure has a lot in it about sex. Henry Fonda gives an interesting portrayal in one of his more unusual roles, as Clay Spencer, the hard-drinkin', hard-livin', hard lovin', hard-cussin' patriarch of a fiercely independent Wyoming family living in the Grand Tetons. When he's not resisting the encroachment of organized religion on his daily life (he believes in God, but doesn't want others to tell him how to do that, or how to show respect to the Lord), he's busy trying to finish the house he promised his wife (Maureen O'Hara) to house their constantly growing brood, and trying to help his eldest son, Clayboy (James MacArthur) -- who's going to be the first Spencer to get past high school -- prepare for college and manhood, while temptation in the form of Claris Coleman (Mimsy Farmer) and Minnie-Cora Cook Kathy Bennett comes his way. There's also a good bit of human drama here, and some especially finely nuanced performances by Donald Crisp and Lillian Bronson, as Fonda's aging parents. Between their work, the CinemaScope photography, the gorgeous Wyoming locations, and a good basic story, this is a surprisingly engrossing comedy-drama of a kind that probably could not be made today, even with a top-name cast. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Henry Fonda
      Henry Fonda - Clay Spencer
    • Maureen O'Hara
      Maureen O'Hara - Olivia Spencer
    • James MacArthur
      James MacArthur - Clayboy Spencer
    • Donald Crisp
      Donald Crisp - Grandpa Spencer
    • Wally Cox
      Wally Cox - Preacher Goodman

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.