Desire Under the Elms

Synopsis: Ephraim Cabot is an old man of amazing vitality who loves his New England farm with a greedy passion. Hating him, and sharing his greed, are the sons of two wives Cabot has overworked into early graves. Most bitter is Eben, whose mother had owned most of the farm, and who feels who should be sole heir. When the old man brings home a new wife, Anna, she becomes a fierce contender to inherit the farm. Two of the sons leave when Eben gives them the fare in return for their shares of the farm. Meanwhile, Anna tries to cause some sparks by rubbing up against Eben.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Delbert Mann
Production: Paramount Pictures
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations.
111 min

That's where your father

hides his money. It belongs to you.

- Say it.

- It belongs to me.

This farm would have been nothing

without my land.

He only married me for the land.

He needed a woman to look after

his home when his other wife died.

Killed her the same way he's killing me.

- He worked her darn to death.

- Ma, don't say that.

You're not gonna die.

When I'm gone, and you're old enough,

take your rights.

He'll never die, that old man,

he'll live longer than the mountains.

You'll have to fight for what is yours,

don't depend on your stepbrothers.

Remember where the stone is,

and when you need money, take it.

Everything here is yours.

You promise?

You promise to remember, Eben?

I promise.

Say it. "Everything here is mine

and some day I'll take it."

Everything here is mine

and some day I'll take it.

We must go back. You mark the place.



Gonna stand there moonin' all day?

She's been dead for years.

You and your brothers

have gotta get home to dinner.


In the prime of your youth

and I can work you into the ground.


The snow's off the mountains

and the buds are out.


Spring, and I'm feelin' damned.

Damned like an old bare hickory branch

fit only for burnin'.

I'm gonna learn

God's message to me in the spring,

like the prophets done.

Now you get back to work, all of you.

Crazy. Crazy as a loon.

"God's message in the spring."

I know what he feels,

the trouble in his blood.

You aiming to leave us too?

No, I'm never gonna leave here.

I don't wanna wander.

I wanna walk in my own fields,

smell the blossoms on my fruit trees.

I wanna bring a woman here and say,

"This is the work of my own bare hands."

You move stones, brother.

Let Pa hear the crazy calls.

One's enough for one family.

Get to work.

There's plenty of stones to clear.

I don't know when, but I'll be back.

No matter how long I'm gone,

don't get any ideas that I'm dead.

I've sworn to live to 100 and I'll do it,

if only to spite you. And you.

All of you, now, get back to work.

Let's go, boy.

There he goes. Reckon he's drunk?

He ain't drunk.

Just smart.

Riding off, leaving us here,

piling stone on stone, year in, year out.

Making stone walls

so he can fence us in.

Maybe it ain't a bad idea,

getting away from here.

- Where would you go?

- California.

There's gold in California, fields of gold.

A fortune lying on the ground,

waiting to be picked.

- You'll never get to the gold fields.

- Don't be so sure.

- Where would you get the money?

- We could walk.

Walkin' ain't new to us.

Put our steps end to end,

we'd be on the moon.

You won't ever go, Peter.

You neither, Sim.

You just wait for your share

of the farm, thinking he'll die soon.

- Two-thirds is ours.

- We've a right.

You haven't any right.

She wasn't your mother.

It was her farm, he stole it. He'd have

a little rump of land without her.

She's dead now and it's my farm.

You tell Pa when he comes back.

I bet you he laughs.

For the first time in his life.

What have you got against us?

There's something.

Year after year, I've seen it in your eyes.

Why didn't you stand between him

and my mother all those years,

to repay the kindness she done you?

- There was always work to be done.

- We never had time to meddle.


Boats leave out of Boston every week

for the Golden Gate.

When Pa comes back,

ask him for the passage money.

I'll bet he laughs

for the second time in his life.

Six weeks already.

No word from the old mule.

Real peaceful, ain't it?

- Maybe he's dead.

- It ain't that peaceful.

Goin' for a walk?


Nice night for a walk.

Gonna be a full moon.

What direction might a young fella go

on a night of full moon?

Can't hardly guess, unless

it was the road to the widow's house.

Eben? Don't seem possible.

He's all dressed up.

You gotta take that into account.

All dressed up, all right,

ain't no doubt about that.

Won't be the first time

a young fella found himself

all dressed up in front of Min's door.

Wouldn't be the last time, either.

- I'll go where I wanna go.

- Sure. No need to feel touchy.

You got plenty

of good company afore you.

- Right in the family.

- All the generations.

Animals. A pair of laughing hyenas.

I want nothing to do with you.


Where have you been? I waited.

- Celebrating in town.

- Celebrating what?

It's a private celebration.

Some news I heard.

- It's been a big night for news.

- You're drunk.

Don't you want to come in?

You're soft and warm and pretty.

Don't let's stand here talking like this.

Come on in.

That's what I came to tell you.

I'm never coming here any more.

You've been good to me, Min,

but I'm through.

- I'm through taking what's left over.

- What are you talking about?

What's come over you?


- It's me. Get up.

- What'd you do that for?

I got news for you.

I'm the bearer of glad tidings.

- Can't you wait till we get our sleep?

- It's sun-up.

Don't you wanna hear it?

He's gone and married again.

- Pa?

- He's got himself hitched.

- What?

- To an Italian woman, 25 years old.

- And pretty, they say.

- Who said?

It's a lie. You're drunk.

They're making fun of you.

I wasn't drunk till after I heard.

The whole village knows.

She was a waitress

in a hotel in New Dover.

- Married!

- He did it to spite us.

Everything'll go to her now.

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Irwin Shaw

Irwin Shaw (February 27, 1913 – May 16, 1984) was an American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and short-story author whose written works have sold more than 14 million copies. He is best known for two of his novels: The Young Lions (1948), about the fate of three soldiers during World War II, made into a film of the same name starring Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, and Rich Man, Poor Man (1970), about the fate of two siblings after World War II. In 1976, a popular miniseries was made into a highly popular miniseries starring Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte, and Susan Blakely. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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