Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 73%
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 340

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Ray Teal as Clem Perkins
Jerome Cowan as Mayor Snyder
Billy Gray as Boy

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer 4 / 10

It has the germ of a good plot, but the film really needed a re-write.

In general, "Driftwood" is an agreeable family film. However, at times, the dialog is really quite stupid and could have improved from a re-write.

The film begins in a virtual ghost town that is occupied by an insane old preacher who spends all his time preaching to his granddaughter (Natalie Wood). Soon, the old guy dies and the kid wanders into to desert where she witnesses a plan crash and adopts a dog that survived the crash. Soon, a nice doctor (Dean Jagger) finds this VERY precocious kid and brings her home. But, things don't go very smoothly (just see the film and you'll know what I mean) and it all culminates with an outbreak of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

My biggest problem was the bizarre dialog spoken by Natalie Wood. She talks like an adult religion professor--which just seems gimmicky and weird--and VERY heavy-handed. It also didn't help that he script was, at times, very saccharine. It's a shame, as the film had many good moments as well as good performances by Jagger and Walter Brennan. Not terrible but rather flawed. And, I should mention that the film features Wood saying 'Beelzebub' (an Old Testament word for Satan) about 9000 times. Again, no child talks like that!

By the way, early in the film you'll see a delivery boy. Look closely, it's Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer of the Our Gang fame.

Reviewed by boblipton 8 / 10

Alan Dwan at His Talkie Peak

When preacher H.B. Warner drops dead during a sermon, reducing the town's population to his great-grand-daughter Natalie Wood, she follows his instructions and heads out to Sodom and Gomorrah, almost getting hit by a crashing plane, being eaten by a wildcat, and rescuing a collie. They are rescued by Dean Jagger, a country doctor, who's living with his foster father, druggist Walter Brennan a small but corrupt town run by Jerome Cowan.

The story roams hither and yonder, involving Rocky Mountain fever, rotten kids, and a story line with plenty of laughs that eventually veers into a serious plot, a lecture on the necessity of getting your children vaccinated, and an over-the-top coincidence that saves the day at the end. It's carried by Dwan's impeccable direction, John Alton's flawless camerawork, and a cast of professionals that includes Ruth Warrick, Charlotte Greenwood, Margaret Hamilton, Hobart Cavanaugh, Alan Napier, Francis Ford.... well, Dwan had worked with everyone and could get them to come in. Lots of fun, and the dog was cute too.

Reviewed by mark.waltz 7 / 10

Surprisingly sweet "B" feature from Republic is a delightful sleeper!

Not since Margaret O'Brien buried her dolls and smashed her family of snow people in "Meet Me in St. Louis" has there been such a delightfully eccentric child as Natalie Wood in "Driftwood". Outrageosly honest, Wood is getting over the death of her great grandfather (H.B. Warner in a heartbreaking cameo), and is discovered on the road by research doctor Dean Jagger who is researching a cure for spotted fever caused by ticks. Having found a dog after witnessing a horrendous plane crash, Wood is slightly in shock, and obviously in need of a place to stay. Jagger takes Wood home with him, which he shares with pharmacist Walter Brennan. Wood's brutal honesty makes adults like Brennan and town spinster Charlotte Greenwood question Jagger's taking care of her, but Jagger's lady friend (Ruth Warrick) likes Wood's spunk. When the dog protects Wood from the town bully, the pooch is put on trial, and the town takes up sides against the dog and the town's power-thumping mayor (Jerome Cowan), the father of the nasty youth. Then, an outbreak of spotted fever hits, and Jagger must find a cure before its too late.

This is quite a unique film for its day, and Wood is quite good as the young heroine. The cast features some of the best character performers of its day, and its nice to see two "Aunt Ellers" ("Oklahoma!") on screen together-Ms. Greenwood (of the movie) and Margaret Hamilton (of a 1960's Lincoln Center revival). Ms. Hamilton is very amusing in her role of Brennan's clerk at the pharmacy, and "Wizard of Oz" viewers will find it ironic that she appears as a witness in the dog's defense after taking away Toto from Dorothy in the 1939 classic. Ruth Warrick, so missed as the imperious Phoebe during the last 6 years of "All My Children", plays a sweet character here, while Brennan, Greenwood and Hobart Cavanaugh add small town charm to their grouchy characters with a heart of gold. This is the perfect movie to play for adolescents to teach them both the power of honesty and the art of diplomacy and tact.

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