Driftwood Movie Poster Image




Quaint 1940s family film with a few potential scares.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1947
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

This film is intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive messages

There's no place like home.

Positive role models

Dr. Steve Webster is a tireless researcher and a strong advocate for having a hospital built in the small town in which he lives. Jenny Hollingsworth is precociously honest, but learns to love those who have taken her in.

Violence & scariness

A character brandishes a rifle and threatens to shoot a dog, but never pulls the trigger. A little girl witnesses a plane crash. The plane is shown falling from the sky, but the crash itself is not shown. Early in the film, a great-grandfather priest is shown acting ill, on the verge of dying.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable

A little girl is teased for wearing ragged clothing.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A main character is often shown smoking a pipe.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Driftwood is a quaint slice of 1940's nostalgia, with a very young Natalie Wood playing the role of a precocious, scripture-quoting little orphan girl. One of the main characters smokes a pipe, and there are a few scary moments, like when a plane is falling from the sky, a grandfather seems close to death, and a collie is threatened with the death penalty for allegedly biting the backside of the mayor's bratty son. But on the whole, Driftwood is as much a family film as it is a study in how people related to one another in small towns in the 1940s.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Jenny Hollingsworth (Natalie Wood) is a precocious, scripture-quoting little girl living with her minister great grandfather in an otherwise abandoned Nevada town. When he passes away, she sets off to find a new home. She comes across a dog who has survived a plane crash, and together, they meet Dr. Steve Webster (Dean Jagger), who takes her in. Initially, Jenny's brutal honesty doesn't endear her to Webster's girlfriend Susan (Ruth Warrick) and others in the town, but as she learns social graces, those around her succumb to her charms. Everyone, that is, except the conniving mayor and his bratty son, who conspire to have Jenny's dog executed after accusing the dog of biting the boy's backside.

Is it any good?


For better or worse, they don't make movies like DRIFTWOOD anymore. Some will consider it corny and others will consider it quaint, but at the end of the day, the movie is an enjoyable slice of gosh-wow nostalgia, or at least a glimpse into How Things Used to Be. The days of malt shops, of neighbors knowing neighbors, of women feeling it's necessary to get married lest they turn into old maids, of spotted fever outbreaks among children.

A very young Natalie Wood plays the role of the precociously honest cute child to the hilt. The courtroom scene is hilarious -- intentionally and unintentionally. The ending, naturally, ties up everything in a fairly tidy and completely happy bow.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how one of the main characters in the film, Jenny Hollingsworth, is an orphan. How is the orphan character portrayed, and how is this portrayal similar and different to ways orphans are conveyed in films in more recent eras?

  • What do you notice in the ways women and men, adults and children, and fellow townspeople relate to one another in this film? How is this different compared to today?

  • If Driftwood were remade for today, in what ways would it be much different than the original?

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:September 15, 1947
Cast:Dean Jagger, Natalie Wood, Ruth Warrick
Director:Allan Dwan
Studio:Republic Pictures Home Video
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Educator and Parent of an infant and 1 year old Written byMommaOfTwoo November 20, 2012


A look into the 'olden' days, as kids today would consider it. A cute movie that I really enjoyed. With all the cgi today I'm not sure children appreciate movies like this anymore. Sad, sad thought.
What other families should know
Great role models