Before you can watch this movie you need to make sure you can correctly pronounce Waxahachie. Use Google if you need to.
This came out in 1984, and I am sure I only saw it once before on TV. The new month just started, and I asked Google what new movies are on Amazon Prime Video. I have been waiting for this one to show up, and here it is. It’s Places in the Heart, starring Sally Fields. Wikipedia has the details.
- Sally Field as Edna Spalding
- Lindsay Crouse as Margaret Lomax
- Danny Glover as Moses “Moze” Hadner
- John Malkovich as Mr. Will
- Ed Harris as Wayne Lomax
- Ray Baker as Sheriff Royce Spalding
- Amy Madigan as Viola Kelsey
- Yankton Hatten as Frank Spalding
- Gennie James as Possum Spalding
- Lane Smith as Albert Denby
- Terry O’Quinn as Buddy Kelsey
- Bert Remsen as Tee Tot Hightower
- Jay Patterson as W.E. Simmons
- Toni Hudson as Ermine
- De’voreaux White as Wylie
- Jerry Haynes as Deputy Jack Driscoll
Yes, this is small-town Texas in the midst of the Great Depression, and it shows. We see a Texas family sitting down to dinner, and the father, Royce Spalding, says grace while Edna Spalding and the two children bow their heads reverently. Then we here what could possibly be a gunshot. Food is passed around, and there is talk of visiting relatives in Oklahoma. Then another shot. And another.
Somebody comes to the front door. The sheriff is needed. There is a “nigra” shooting off a gun down by the railroad tracks. So Royce is the sheriff, and he straps on his service pistole and heads off to the trouble, kissing Edna for the very last time.
Down by the tracks a very drunk Wylie is firing off a pistol. The sheriff calls him out by name. It’s a small town. The two know each other. Wylie fires two shots into the air, then he tosses his whisky bottle and takes a shot at it. Then he fires off another shot, which hits the sheriff squarely in the chest killing him. He reacts in horror, knowing his certain fate.
Meanwhile, Edna’s brother-in-law, Wayne, meets school teacher Viola in an empty house where they get it on on top of a bed. Small town Texas.
Wylie’s body is dragged behind a car to Edna’s house, where the vigilante hooligans display it as though it were some kind of hunting trophy, only with less dignity.
We see two funerals. They sheriff and Wylie are laid to rest in separate cemetaries.
Edna has never been anything but a housewife, and she has no marketable skills. The family has no income Bank officer Denby gives it to her straight. She will be evicted in a few months. When a hobo named Moses comes looking to work for food, Edna tells him she cannot hire him, but she prepares a meal for him. Another meal the next day, and Moses goes on his way out, as with Jean Valjean, he steal some tableware.
Later a law officer comes to the door, bringing Moses along. Again, as with Jean Valjean, Edna tells the law Moses was taking the items to somebody else, and it was wrong for him to not directly there.
Moses points out the 30 acres of land adjacent to the house, and tells Edna she should plant cotton. He demonstrates his expertise with the cotton enterprise, and for $15 she purchases the seed. Moses advises the seller is cheating her, selling her a cheaper seed, such is his expertise.
Denby brings his brother-in-law, Mr. Will, to the house. Denby was blinded in the war, and he will pay to room at the house.
Moses and Edna begin to plow for the planting, using mules to pull two plows. A tornado comes up, and they get the mules into the barn and everybody takes cover in the storm shelter. People in the town are killed, and the house is badly damaged.
Edna needs to get the crop in ahead of other growers. There is a prize for the first bale of the season. Moses recruits additional pickers, and they have their crop ahead of the competition.
Moses advises Edna on negotiating with the buyer. The market is week, something like 2.5 cents per pound. Following Moses’s advice Edna invokes the prestige of being the first ginner to process a crop, and she gets nearly 4 cents a pound.
Edna discusses with Moses future operations, purchasing adacent acreage and also a tractor. But when Moses goes to investigate a light on in the barn he is accosted by five Klansmen, who proceed to beat him up. Will hears the commotion, and brings a pistol to the fight. But, being blind, the most he cad do is fire a few rounds at random before he runs out of bullets. He does recognize the five by their voices, and they scatter, not wanting to face justice for killing a white man.
Moses figures he needs to depart the area, and the final scene shows a devotional at church, and as the camera scans the congregation we see all the characters, dead and alive. I am taking the scene is meant to depict places in the heart.
I am thinking I heard six shots before Wylie killed the sheriff with a seventh shot. But I searched, and they do make seven-shot revolvers.
The movie features a time warp. We see Edna and Moses plowing to plant the crop as the tornado blows through. Then about the next thing we see them preparing to harvest the crop. I have been in several cotton fields, and cotton does not mature that fast. So what went on while somebody changed film in the cameras?