The Law of Contact

The Missouri Traveler (January 21, 1958)

Lee Marvin in The Missouri Traveler

Released on January 21, 1958: Heartwarming story of a 15 year old orphanage runaway that finds a home and a life in the small farm town of Delphi, Missouri.

Directed by Jerry Hopper

The Actors: Brandon De Wilde (Biarn Turner), Lee Marvin (Tobias Brown), Gary Merrill (Doyle Magee), Paul Ford (Finas Daugherty), Mary Hosford (Anne Love Price), Ken Curtis (Fred Mueller), Cal Tinney (Clyde Hamilton Baker), Frank Cady (Willie Poole), Mary Field (Nelda Hamilton), Kathleen Freeman (Serena Poole), Will Wright (Sheriff Peavy), Tom Tirner (Reverend Thorndyke), Bill Bryant (Henry Craig), Barry Curtis (Jimmy Price), Eddie Little Sky (Red Poole), Rodney Bell (Herb Davis), Helen Brown (Hattie Neely), William Newell (Pos Neely), Roy Jensen (Simpson), Earle Hodgins (the old sharecropper).


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Gather the kids, pop some good white-kernel corn, make some milk shakes and have a good old family time enjoying this great 'coming of age' movie about a young boy that grew up and grew wise thanks to the good people of the small Missouri farm town of Delphi. The time is early 1900's, the Civil War has been over for a few years, and WWI hasn't happened yet. Delphi (Del-fee) is a Confederate town, with a statue of General Whitby Sterling Love, the founder of the town. America is growing, and it's citizens are growing with it. America is still a country with a few cities, and a lot of farms and farm towns. In this tale, a young boy runs away from an orphanage, and while walking along an old country road, is approached by Tobias Brown (Lee Marvin), a crusty old coot driving his horse and buggy. Brown asks the lad where he came from and where he is going, and the lad informs him that he is heading to Florida. Brown gives him a lift into Delphi where the lad is destined to remain. The whole town in one way or another helps and encourages the lad to stay and grow with them.

First there is Tobias Brown. He was a dirt poor sharecropper for the General, but by wits and the school of hard knocks grew to become the wealthiest landowner and farmer in town. He hides a soft heart under a thick crusty personality. He teaches the lad how to handle cruel businessmen that will take every advantage of a person if given a chance.

Then there is Doyle McGee, the towns newspaper editor. He takes a personal interest in the lad and becomes the philosophical and fatherly 'good guy' that balanced Brown's tough guy approach. He helps the lad to settle into an abandoned house, and pays him to care for a horse that he can't handle, but the lad seems have a way with.

Then there is Anne Love Price, granddaughter of the founding General. As the movie opens, she appears to be a vindictive, prissy, nosey-body lady that is too cantankerous to be lovable. Tobias Brown makes a poing of disrespecting her grandfather the General, by tying his horse to the foot of his statue, and then striking a match on the statue to light his cigar.

The movie twists and turns around the lad until it builds to a grand finale during the town's fourth of July celebration when the town sets up a horse race between the lad with his unruly horse, against the finest horse that Tobias Brown has, and the race will literally determine if the lad will ramain in the town, or be forced to leave. You will get your ire up at the forces that beset the lad, but you will absolutely love the small-town ambiance of Delphi, Missouri, a microcosm of this great land as it was growing up. You'll witness a whole town full of characters that are so different from each other that they cannot be friendly, but by focusing on the lad, these diverse and different people come together for the greater good of the town, and the lad.