some ramblings about Friendly Persuasion (1956).

This blog post is a result of the ‘Pick My Movie Tag’ (more details later). Rachel tagged me to write about a movie (or movies) that I’ve changed my mind about somehow. That was actually a bit of a challenge; I don’t tend to change my mind about movies a whole lot. Either I like a movie enough to rewatch it and solidify my liking, or I don’t like it and don’t rewatch it. However, there were a few movies I didn’t like as a child, movies I’ve since come to enjoy. And Friendly Persuasion is one of them.

Why I didn’t like Friendly Persuasion at first:

Sad, but true. (source)

My siblings and I were homeschooled—my mom taught us most subjects, but she left classic lit to my grandma. One of the books Grandma had us read was Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. There is a chapter in Farmer Boy where the Wilder family goes to the county fair and Almanzo watches a man play the old pea-under-the-shell game—just like that scene in Friendly Persuasion.

Well, thanks to both those scenes, my grandma made whoever was studying Farmer Boy that year watch Friendly Persuasion. Since Friendly Persuasion became a movie we were forced to watch, I decided that I didn’t/wouldn’t like it. (Kinda like how I did not enjoy Silas Marner.) In fact, I don’t think I watched the whole thing all the way through until 2015—or, at least, not willingly.

Why I changed my mind:

Um…it’s actually a good movie? XD I just had to gain a little maturity and see the whole thing all the way through (without being forced to).

(And by ‘a little maturity’, I mean just that. I recently reread my old review of Friendly Persuasion, written seven years ago, and let’s just say I was cringy back then. Still am, I’m sure, but…yeesh. And no, I’m not linking to the review; use the search bar at your own peril. Hehe.)

What I love most about the film now:


(Don’t mind me. He’s just my favorite at the moment.)

In all seriousness, Anthony Perkins does a great job portraying Josh Birdwell, a young man torn between his family’s pacifist beliefs and his need to fight for what he believes. That internal struggle is portrayed so well by Perkins. The scene where Josh actually does fight, shooting at Confederate soldiers? It’s painful to watch—but in a good way. The mix of revulsion and anguish and determination on Josh’s face and in his movements is some fantastic acting from Anthony Perkins.

There are other elements of Friendly Persuasion I love as well. In the hands of a less-skilled actress (or a poorly written script), Eliza Birdwell (Dorothy McGuire) would have come across as an annoying, puritanical stick-in-the-mud. But I love Eliza! She and her husband Jess are that marvelous rarity in fiction—the happy, middle-aged, married couple. Dorothy McGuire and Gary Cooper have such wonderful chemistry. It’s a joy to watch them play off each other. ❤

I’m not always a fan of Dimitri Tiomkin’s scores (they can be heavy-handed and even annoying with their constant, sentimental presence), but I do enjoy the work Tiomkin did on Friendly Persuasion—particularly ‘Polka at the Fair.’ (And I will also say that I prefer Anthony Perkins’ version of the theme song to Pat Boone’s.)

I also appreciate how the different perspectives in Friendly Persuasion are presented. Both viewpoints—pacifism and the necessity of fighting to defend one’s home and freedom—are given screen time, script time, and a sympathetic portrayal. The film doesn’t villainize either side to drive home a particular message. I mean, you don’t have to look any farther than the absolutely heart-wrenching conversations between Josh and his mother to see that. Josh loves his mom and Eliza loves her son. Because of that love, they both try to convince the other that their beliefs are right. It’s handled in such a moving, powerful way.

There is a good blend of comedy and tragedy, joy and sorrow in Friendly Persuasion. If you’re looking for a clean, heartwarming family movie, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Tag rules:

  • Nominate one or more people to review the film or films of your choice. Or you can request they review something from a certain year, genre, or star. Everyone can review the same thing, or you can request each person cover something different. As long as it’s something they haven’t written about yet, you’re good.
  • Nominees are allowed to request a different pick for whatever reason no more than five times. Stuff happens. We all know it.
  • Nominees must thank the person who nominated them and provide a link their blog. (Thank you, Rachel!)
  • Nominees may nominate others to keep the tag going. Picking the person who nominated them is allowed, or they can nominate someone else. Or both.
  • All participants need to include these rules in their post, whether they’re nominees or picking nominees.
  • All participants should use the “Pick My Movie” banner or something similar in their posts.
  • Have fun!

I’m tagging Jillian over at The Classic Film Connection to write about a favorite movie from her childhood. And if anyone of want to do the same, consider yourself tagged!

Have you watched Friendly Persuasion? Did you like it? Do you share my enthusiasm for Anthony Perkins? Let me know in the comments!


9 thoughts on “some ramblings about Friendly Persuasion (1956).

Add yours

  1. This is one of a select few movies that my husband actually introduced me to, not the other way around. I really do enjoy it, especially since it’s not heavy handed, and deals pretty evenly. It would be interesting to pair it with another Gary Cooper movie that deals with pacificsm and war, namely Sergeant York. I haven’t seen that in decades, but now I kind of want to watch it together with this one.


    1. Well, I would happily watch either (or both) with you, should the opportunity arise! (I haven’t seen Sergeant York in years and years as well.)


  2. I grew up watching this movie and I loved it so much from the stupid goose to the horse race every week to Josh being terrorized by Ma Kettle’s daughters. He was my favorite character before I even knew who Anthony Perkins was. (Still is!) It’s good to see someone else appreciating it the way I do – I’m glad you came over from the dark side of disliking it! 😉


  3. I’ve never seen this movie but your review put a burning desire in my heart to watch it ASAP!😆


  4. This is one of my longtime, all-time favorite classics!! Loved what you said about the different perspectives being given fair time and explanation.


    1. Thank you! I really found that aspect refreshing–letting the viewers think for themselves, hehe.


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