The Country Girl (1954)

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
The Country Girl (1954) Movie Poster Image
Great acting, heavy themes in Old Hollywood classic.
  • NR
  • 1954
  • 104 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

You've got to find your own path and your own reasons to walk it. Anyone can face a crisis, but everyday living is what's really tough to get through.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Georgie and Frank's marriage is a dysfunctional power struggle. Both lie, or at least deal mostly in half truths. Neither has been able to move past the death of their young son a few years ago, and Frank's become an alcoholic in the meantime. Both have a lot of work to do if they're going to stay together. Bernie really does want to help, but his go-to tactic is verbal aggression, pushing people to their limits, and ideally around to his way of thinking. But they learn from their mistakes, and better traits start to come out like steadfast loyalty, self sacrifice, and accepting responsibility.

Violence

Frank flashes back a few times to the death of his young son. We hear the accident off camera and see Frank's reaction. Characters mention a past suicide attempt with wrists bleeding, and a past attempt to set a hotel room on fire. One slap in the face. A man throws a drink and breaks a large mirror.

Sex

A couple of kisses.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two of the three main characters smoke. One chain smokes and jokes a few times about always being out of cigarettes. Others mention once or twice that he smokes too much. Lots of background characters smoking. One main character is an alcoholic who drinks a lot, mostly in secret, and it's a major theme. He shows drunken behavior once or twice, spends a night in jail, and is in very bad shape the next morning. A few scenes take place in bars or at cocktail parties.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Country Girl is a slow-paced, heavy drama. Content-wise, there's no reason to pause it if tweens and under wander in, but the adult characters and mature themes make it best for older kids. One of the three main characters is an alcoholic and his problems are explored in detail. Flashbacks to the death of a toddler don't show anything graphic, but there are sound effects and we see the father's reaction to the accident. Two main characters frequently smoke and one of them chain smokes. Lots of background smoking, too. There's one deep kiss and one quick one. It ends on a hopeful note, but heavy themes, like how hard it is just getting through life and helping vs. enabling, won't hold kids' interest. Fans of acting and of Old Hollywood will enjoy watching two legends play very different roles than they usually did.

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What's the story?

Washed-up Broadway has-been Frank Elgin (Bing Crosby) has been married to THE COUNTRY GIRL Georgie (Grace Kelly) for 10 years. Big-time director Bernie Dodd (William Holden) offers Frank a chance to make a comeback in Bernie's next big play. But Georgie's afraid the pressure will drive Frank to start drinking again. Frank's not sure he's up for it either. Everyone knows Frank just hasn't been the same since his young son was killed in a tragic accident. Can Frank keep it together with Bernie and Georgie constantly bickering about what's best for him? Or will Bernie find out the hard way that he picked the wrong leading man?

Is it any good?

The excellent acting's the main draw in this slow-paced adaptation of a Broadway drama with mature, heavy themes. Grace Kelly earned her only Oscar for her portrayal of The Country Girl, but it's Bing Crosby as the washed-up, alcoholic, has-been whose acting really stands out, and stands up over time. Fans of Old Hollywood, and of acting in general, will appreciate the stellar performances. It's a great character study of how three very different, fascinating people tackle life's problems.

But it keeps a very play-like feel, with cameras that don't move around the small sets very much, and dialog that often sounds more like someone's giving a speech than just talking normally. If acting's your thing, by all means sink your teeth into these great examples. It's just not an ideal choice for family-movie night.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Frank's drinking problem in The Country Girl. Do you agree with Bernie, that drinkers only quit either by dying, or by deciding not to all by themselves? Why or why not?

  • Do old Hollywood movies make smoking look cool? What do we know about it now that they didn't back in 1954? What are some good reasons not to start in the first place?

  • Broadway plays have been turned into movies many times, including this one. Can you think of any recent Broadway plays or musicals that have been made into movies? What about the other way around, movies into plays?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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