Friendly Persuasion is a much beloved film. Over the past two weeks people have been stopping me around town to talk about it. Many people remember it, and when they do, they think of it fondly.
Jessamyn West, who was a Quaker, and was from Indiana, wrote the novel on which it was based in 1945. The screenplay was written by Michael Wilson, but the film was released without a screenwriting credit because Wilson was on the Hollywood blacklist at that time, having been named an unfriendly witness by the House Un-American Activities Committee. William Wyler made it for a studio called Allied Artists, which had been fashioned from the old Monogram Studios, one of the most noted of the Hollywood “Poverty Row” studios that specialized in cheap productions.
It was released in November, 1956. The movie was nominated for the best picture Oscar. Wyler was nominated for best director, Anthony Perkins was nominated for best supporting actor, Dmitri Tiomkin and Paul Francis Webster were nominated for best music, original song for “Thee I Love”, Gordon Glennan and Gordon Sawyer were nominated for best sound recording, and Michael Wilson was voted a nomination for his adapted screenplay. The Academy at that time did not announce Wilson’s Oscar nomination because it had a by-law against awarding any Oscars to blacklisted film professionals. Gary Cooper reputedly did not like the film at all. Ronald Reagan presented a VHS copy of this picture to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988.
I find it a charming view of the past, loaded with Hollywood character actors in nearly every role. I hope you enjoy watching Friendly Persuasion with me tonight.