Wild River

Synopsis: A young field administrator for the TVA comes to rural Tennessee to oversee the building of a dam on the Tennessee River. He encounters opposition from the local people, in particular a farmer who objects to his employment (with pay) of local black laborers. Much of the plot revolves around the eviction of an elderly woman from her home on an island in the River, and the young man's love affair with that woman's widowed granddaughter.
Director(s): Elia Kazan
Production: Fox
  2 wins & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
110 min

We got out of the car

and got swept down the stream.

We caught on a tree,

and my father-in-law

lost his footing

and asked me to grab the girl.

I grabber her, but slipped,

and the little girl went.

Shortly after that

the little boy he went,

and soon after that my wife,

father-in-law and the baby,

they went too.

The three children

that were lost,

their ages, the oldest was six,

and the middle one was four

and the baby was three.

They haven't found the baby

and the oldest boy yet.

The little girl we have

and that's all.

To stop the devastation,

the waste,

the loss of life caused by

the Tennessee River at flood,

the Congress of the United States,

on May 18th 1933,

created a vast new agency called

The Tennessee Valley Authority,

or TVA,

and authorised it to build

a series of dams along the river.

At the same time,

the Tennessee Valley authority

had to buy all the land

along the shore of the river

and all its islands.

Some people had lived on

this land for generations.

Some people refused to sell,

under any persuasion whatsoever.


Hi, I'm Chuck Glover.

I'm Betty Jackson.

I was Mr. Biggs secretary.

Do I inherit you, too?

I don't know. Mr. Biggs left

so suddenly he didn't say.

You're inherited.

What desk should I use?

That was Mr. Biggs desk.

Thank you.

What's the matter?

I thought they'd send

an older man.

No, they sent a younger one.

Shall we get to work?

I'll get the folder

on Garth Island.

Getting the old lady off Garth

is difficult.

You're the third one

they've sent to try.

Ella Garth versus Washington.

Poor old Mr. Biggs

was disgusted when he quit.

I'll bet he was.

Maybe, it could be

he went about it the wrong way.

That man did everything

anybody could do.

He begged and pleaded with her,

but she won't budge an inch.

That's the American way of life.

Rugged individualism is our heritage.

3000 people sell,

and Ella Garth won't sell.

We applaud that spirit,

we admire it, we believe in it,

but we must get her out of there.

The dam is finished

and once they close those gates

and the water starts to rise...

Well, we've not only

got to get her out of there,

but we must get the land cleared,

the houses and trees down...

Be careful!

I guess I'm not telling you

anything new.

Betty, how would you go about

getting her off the island?

I'd let her drown.

That's one way.

How many...?

Is that the island?

Everyone of them

bought up except that one.

How many Garth's live there?

There's many,

but that old women, she's it.

They've been told

the island will be flooded?

About a million times.

I guess I'll go out

and talk to her.

You do that.

It's not that I think I can talk

any better than the others,

but I think we often underestimate

the intelligence of people.

We can talk to them

and they'll listen.


Well, what?

Let's see how you feel

in a few days.

I'm off to see the Mayor.

He's in charge of

clearing the land.

Wish me luck.

Have your cards and stamps

in your hands.

- I'm sorry I'm late.

- We've been waiting, Mr. Davis.

Could you tell me

where I'd find the Mayor?

In the barber shop.

Is the Mayor still in there?

Yeah, sure.

Mayor Maynard?

Be with you in just a minute.

All right.

The only way to get her off

the island is to get a U.S. Marshal.

Except, we can't use force.

We're having trouble enough

in Washington.

Some Senators are solidly

opposed to these dams.

- Tom, how long are you going to be?

- I'll cut your hair tomorrow.

We've got to get

those Garths off the island.

Bottled it Friday.

With no dispossess, no marshals,

and no bad publicity in the papers.

You'll never do it.

I'll do it.

I mean, I'll try to do it.

There must be some way,

don't you think?

Stay where you are.

There'll be 20 feet of water there.

We're a little behind schedule,

but we'll make it

before the winter rains.

Why don't you get more men?

Can't. Unless we use coloured.


Use coloured

and the whites would quit.

For a minute there

I forgot where I was.

Here we are.

There's the island.

It looks deserted.

It's not. They're there.

They know you're here.

I suppose that means me.


Nobody else.


Here I go.

Good luck.

After all what can they

do to me?

Just pull yourself over.

And let me know

how you come out.

I will.

Hi, men.

- Who's that?

- I don't know.

Good afternoon.

I'm from the TVA.


I saw your sign, unfortunately

I had to disregard it.

I'd like to talk to you.

Would you give me

a few minutes?

If I was you I'd go now.

Would you give speak to me?

I have a problem.

We've just built this big dam

down the river,

and pretty soon

this whole place will be water.

Everywhere it's going to be water.

That's wonderful.

What's your name?

Barbara Ann.

I'm five years old.

You're what?

Five years old.

You're not five.

You're at least six.

No, I'm only five.

Barbara Ann!

Yes, Mama?

Barbara Ann,

where are the men working?

Barbara Ann, come in here.

Yes, Mama.

Uncle Hamilton and Uncle Cal

are by the stream.

You mean, you get catfish

bigger than that?

Some are bigger,

some are smaller.


about what I came to discuss...

Why don't you get out of here?

We don't want any trouble.


You're from the Government,

ain't you?


Go on about your business.

My business is with you.

Ma said we wasn't to talk

to you.

You have to talk to me.

We do?

Look, you know as well as I know

that you must leave here.

TVA has offered you a fair price

and a new place just as good.

What have you got

against a new place?

Too much work.

You work here, don't you?

No, sir.

Who does?

You don't do any work at all?

How do you manage that?

Just never started.

Ma owns this property

and she ain't gonna sell it.

Certainly I can understand

how a senile old woman

would be sentimental about a place

and not want to leave.

Perhaps, she doesn't understand

what it's all about.

Ma understands everything.

If she understands, then what

is she doing? These floods...

Ma knows about the floods.

Then I really don't understand!

Now, you just quiet down.

We ain't stupid.

I didn't say you were.

- Been reading your mind.

- Mister, Ma ain't selling.

It's up to you to make her sell.

Are you all afraid of her?

Joe John.

Don't say nothing against Ma.

What am I saying against her?

I'm saying that

if your mother is senile

it's up to you

to make her understand

she has to leave.

Ma ain't gonna.

She is gonna.

You know that.

Joe John.

Mister, you'd better go now.

Not until I talk to your mother.

Come on, take me up there.

What's so funny?

What's senile?


He says Ma is crazy?

I never saw so many men

afraid of one...

What are you doing?

Hey, hey. Let me go!

Let go of me!

- Wake up, Mr. Penner.

- What time is it, Mrs. Riggs?


and you haven't got a job yet.

Want to buy a duck?

I'll sell Goo-Goo cheap.

I've been swimming.

Hello, Glover?

You sure got her off in a hurry.

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Paul Osborn

Paul Osborn (September 4, 1901 – May 12, 1988) was an American playwright and screenwriter. Osborn's notable original plays are The Vinegar Tree, Oliver Oliver, and Morning's at Seven and among his several successful adaptations, On Borrowed Time has proved particularly popular. Counted among his best-known screenplays would be the adaptation of John Steinbeck's East of Eden and Wild River for his friend Elia Kazan, South Pacific and Sayonara directed by Joshua Logan, as well as Madame Curie, The Yearling, and Portrait of Jennie. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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