YOU CANNOT FIND BETTER QUALITY ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!
This is a wonderful, witty and heartfelt story about survival, surprises and the power of love.
The Luther family are sharecroppers living in the mountains of North Carolina. The father, Roy (Rance Howard) is now sickly and asks the second eldest daughter, Mary (Julie Gholson) to take over his role of father when he passes on. Young Mary has guts and spirit. She needs the help of her family if she is to keep them all together. Roy instructs Mary not to tell anyone when he dies, because he believes that doctors, undertakers and preachers just take money from you but do no real service or good. If the authorities should discover that Roy has passed, the children would be split up and put in foster homes because none of them is of legal age.
Their landlord, Kiser Pease (Harry Dean Stanton), is interested in marrying the eldest daughter Devola (Jan Smithers). Roy Luther will not allow the marriage. He insists that Mary promise she will not allow it to happen after he dies. They are behind in their payments due for the property but when Kiser is sick with pneumonia Mary and younger brother Romey (Matthew Burrill) help him. He then agrees to sign the land back over to the Luther family.
When Roy Luther dies the children bury him on a mountainside, in an unmarked grave. Then they go to elaborate lengths to keep anyone from finding out he has passed. The children rehearse repeatedly about what to say if asked about their father. Meanwhile, Kiser continues his courtship of Devola with Mary doing everything she can to thwart his intentions. The Luther children scrimp, save and do all they can to eke out a living for themselves. They sell roots and herbs gathered from their land to the local pharmacist to use in medicines. Mary takes refuge in her journal and the essays she writes for school assignments catch the eye of her teacher who urges her not to waste her talent with words by settling for 'a life in these hills', obviously implying that Mary should pursue a career as a writer.
When Kiser lands in the hospital after an accident, his nosy sister goes to the Luther house and demands they vacate the property. She says the paper that Kiser signed, giving the Luther's back their land, is worthless and orders them off the property within 48 hours. With no options left, a desperate Mary visits Kiser in the hospital and offers herself to him in marriage. Kiser is surprised and makes clear that he would rather marry Devola. A panicked and very distraught Mary blurts out that her father is dead. She threatens to kill Kiser if he tells anyone and storms out of the hospital...
Very rare, now on DVD.
Julie Gholson ... Mary Call
Jan Smithers ... Devola
Matthew Burrill ... Romey
Helen Harmon ... Ima Dean
Sudie Bond ... Miss Fleetie
Rance Howard ... Roy Luther
Tom Spratley ... Mr. Connell
Alice Beardsley ... Goldie Pease
Bob Cole ... Hyder Graybeal
Helen Bragdon ... Mrs. Connell
Harry Dean Stanton ... Kiser Pease