The Missouri Traveler is a 1958 American coming-of-age period piece drama film directed by Jerry Hopper starring Brandon deWilde and Lee Marvin. It is based on the novel by John Burress. The cinematography was by Technicolor developer Winton C. Hoch with harmonica and banjo score by Jack Marshall of The Munsters fame. The film was distributed by Disney's Buena Vista Corporation.
It is the second of only 3 films produced by Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney's C. V. Whitney Pictures; the first being The Searchers in 1956 with John Wayne and directed by John Ford, the last being The Young Land in 1959 with Patrick Wayne and Dennis Hopper.
The year after the film's release deWilde would address more adult themes in Blue Denim.
Brandon deWilde leads a cast lengthy in character actors playing subdued Biarn Turner, a 15-year-old runaway from the Eatondale Orphan Asylum bound for Florida in the pre-World War I time period. He receives a ride into the rural Missouri town of Delphi with rich land-owner Tobias Brown (Lee Marvin). There, after an episode in the town square involving most of the populace, he meets crusty newspaper man Doyle Magee (Gary Merrill).
Both of these men share an interest in the polite and mature youth; one showing kindness, the other almost outright cruelty. Eventually, both of their reasonings become clear to the lad. At the same time, the whole town of Delphi comes to not only accept Biarn, but to embrace him as one of the town's own and his dream of becoming a farmer.
Highlights include a turn of the 19th to 20th century small-town 4th of July celebration with a horse-trotting race and a head-to-head between Magee and Brown.
- Brandon deWilde as Biarn Turner
- Lee Marvin as Tobias Brown
- Gary Merrill as Doyle Magee
- Paul Ford as Finas Daugherty
- Mary Hosford as Anna Love Price
- Ken Curtis as Fred Mueller
- Cal Tinney as Clyde Hamilton Baker
- Frank Cady as Willie Poole
- Mary Field as Nelda Hamilton
- Kathleen Freeman as Serena Poole
- Will Wright as Sheriff Peavy
- Tom Tiner as Reverend Thomdyke
- Bill Bryant as Henry Craig
- Barry Curtis as Jimmy Price
- Eddie Little as "Red" Poole
- Roy Jenson as Simpson
No less than six different releases of The Missouri Traveler were produced on VHS. Similarly, several DVD versions were released over the years, mainly as an inclusion in a multiple film "family pack". Presently, The Missouri Traveler is available in Region 0 DVD through Reel Enterprises and video on demand in standard non-widescreen VHS conversion format.
- The Missouri Traveler is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- The Missouri Traveler at RememberingBrandon.net
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