The Big Cat (April, 1949)
Released in April, 1949: When a big city boy returns to the wilderness home of his mother, he inflames an old feud between two men that may end in someone's death, and a big mountain lion may kill even sooner.
Directed by Phil Karlson
Written by Morton Grant and Dorothy Yost.
The Actors: Lon McCallister (Danny Turner), Peggy Ann Garner (Doris Cooper), Preston Foster (Tom Eggers), Forrest Tucker (Gil Hawks), Skip Homeier (Jim Hawks), Sara Haden (Mrs. Mary Cooper), Irving Bacon (Matt Cooper, mailman), Gene Reynolds (Wid Hawks).
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I never lived in anything you could call a big city until I moved to Cleveland, Ohio in my early twenties. And I wouldn't even call Cleveland a really big city, but it is surely not a small country town. The smallest town I lived in was Shanksville, Pennsylvania, with just a few dozen homes, a school, post office and small country store. We lived in Meadville, Pennsylvania before we moved to Shanksville, and even though Meadville wasn't big enough to have a television station or any other symbols of a big city, it was surely bigger than Shanksville. Small country towns in western Pennsylvania were, and probably still are, like large extended families. Everyone knows everyone else, and knows their whole life history. When new comers hit town, like we did, the folks don't embrace the new folk quickly. Newcomers feel very lonely in a small town for the first few months because until all the folk get to know you well, they avoid you like the plague. I learned that it is much easier to meet new friends in a bigger city than in a small town, but once you have a small town friend, you have a friend for life. If you are a fan of the old television show 'The Waltons,' you know the atmosphere of small town America during the Great Depression years. This movie was made many years before The Waltons, but brings us many of the same human interactions.
Danny Turner's mother dies in Philadelphia, so he heads for the mountain home of his mother, only to find that his appearance in this very small community may tear the people apart. On his arrival, when he tells the mail man his name, the mailman abruptly kicks him off of his wagon without explanation and makes him walk the rest of the way to his destination. When the mailman gets home and tells his wife about Danny, he tells her that there will surely be a killing soon. It seems that there is a lot of bad blood between the folks in this community, and Danny's appearance will bring it all back to life. It may be small potatoes that there is also a large killer mountain lion on the loose that is a danger to the people and the horses, cattle and other farm animals. Yes, . . . there will surely be a killing soon . . . and the mountain lion will not be the first to die, as feuding families fight for lost honor and past grievances.
Forrest Tucker and Lon McCallister
Forrest Tucker and
Forrest Tucker, Skip Homeier and Gene Reynolds
Gene Reynolds, Skip Homeier and Lon McCallister
Gene Reynolds and Skip Homeier
Irving Bacon and Lon McCallister
Irving Bacon leading Sunday services on the mountain top
Irving Bacon in 1949
Lon McCallister and Peggy Ann Garner
Peggy Ann Garner
Peggy Ann Garner and Sara Haden at Sunday services
Peggy Ann Garner whistling
Preston Foster shoots at the big cat
Sara Haden and Irving Bacon
Sara Haden and Irving Bacon
The Big Cat