September 20, 1948, p. 12
Fast's 'Rachel' Makes a Nice Film
By Herb Tank
Rachel and The Stranger.
RKO Release. Produced by Richard H. Berger.
Directed by Norman Foster. Screenplay by Waldo Salt.
Based on the story Rachel by Howard Fast.
With Loretta Young, William Holden, Robert Mitchum
and Gary Gray. At the Mayfair.
Howard Fast's warm and tender short story Rachel has been fashioned into a warm and kindly film by RKO. The title has been stretched a bit to read Rachel and The Stranger and the story has been embellished a bit to include some hot and heavy Indian fighting in the final reel but the warmth and humor and good sense of the story are there too.
Rachel was a woman, and some might say that's tough enough, but Rachel was also a bondswoman on the Ohio frontier and David Harvey bought her for $22 (eighteen paid and four owein') because his first wife had died and he needed a woman around the place to cook and clean and raise the boy. David married her because it was fittin' but he never considered her another human being, and neither did the boy, Young Davey. It wasn't until a strolling hunter who was itching to marry and settle down came by that anyone paid much attention to Rachel at all. The hunter could see that Rachel wasn't much appreciated and he set out to charm her. But the hunter was also a man, insolent enough to think that he could solve the problem by offering to let David make a profit on the woman, and himself take possession. It's a good story and the course of it teaches two men and a boy on the Ohio frontier that a woman, too, is a human being.
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RKO did a good job of casting Rachel and The Stranger. Loretta Young is simple, and often warmly moving, as Rachel the bondswoman. As the stranger of the title, but really no stranger at all to the yarn, Robert Mitchum portrays the hunter with a lean and lanky, easy going charm and William Holden is properly awkward and stolid as the frontier farmer who bought himself a wife. Even this kid, Gary Gray, comes across nicely without the too-cuteness permitted most child actors.
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Although the screenplay is hopped up a bit, Waldo Salt, who adapted it from the Fast short story, has managed to retain much of the quality of the original yarn. Norman Foster's direction is leisurely emphasizing the tender and human aspects of Rachel and The Stranger, and the lensing savors the rugged countryside that provides the film with a background of maintain country and forests.
Rachel and The Stranger is a simple film, warm and very nice.