Our Vines Have Tender Grapes ★★★½

"My pa calls me 'jente mi', that's Norwegian, that means 'girl mine'."
"My pa just calls me."

"Pa… do people live on the stars?"
"They do if you want them to."
"Why's that?"
"Well, 'cos nobody can tell for sure if they don't."
"I wonder if they have free barns."

"On a night like this with a lot of people around, I get a lonesome feeling."
"Can you be lonesome with people?"
"Are you lonesome now?"
"But I'm people."
"No, jente mi… you're my daughter."

"I'm sorry about this afternoon, Pa. You know, sometimes I get a meanness inside me, like when you get lonesome…"

Like, nevermind what I was saying in the Lost Angel review about Margaret O'Brien's alien nature… there's just stuff in these movies - 2 in a row - that I never expected from 40s cinema. The whole weird scientific institute in Lost Angel and the whole Norwegian-American setting here… Edward G. Robinson's almost unrecognisable in this too - I thought he always kinda played the same gangster type character he's best known for but there's none of that here, he's really raw and heartfelt.

I have to admit I could've watched this straight through and given it a lower rating but about 40 minutes in they started talking about a certain character's death and I really felt like I'd missed something (I'll admit, I wasn't giving it my fullest), and it seemed like such a significant, sad death I had to track back so many times trying to find what I missed I ended up just starting the whole movie over so I could be sure. Unless I'm going crazy (please comment if you can help) there really is no mention of this death until after it's occurred, it's entirely offscreen and unexplained which completely lessens its impact… but by starting the movie over I still got more out of its other nuances than I would have otherwise. It's a shockingly subtle character piece that I'm sure I'll revisit (if only for O'Brien) and get more out of in future but I think I'll always be irked by that subplot that's so underserved. Maybe it was a badly cut version or something (the version I got hold of was recorded by some stranger off TCM), I don't know. Anyway, that finale in the burning barn goes from terrifying to devastating in a heartbeat so there's that too.

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