Spencer's Mountain

This movie from 1963 was apparently the inspiration for the TV show The Waltons. We just wanted to watch it because it was filmed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which is near where we live. In it are Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara, and the guy who played the oldest brother in Swiss Family Robinson (James MacArthur, IMDb tells me).

We watched it with our kids and were surprised at the sexual references throughout the movie. (Maybe it's naive to think that a movie from 1963 about a homesteading family would be devoid of that kind of thing; maybe sexual references were all the rage in 1963. Then again, we recently watched Gone With the Wind with the kids. It has relatively recently been rated G--in spite of all kinds of things that I wouldn't normally consider appropriate for "General Audiences." Like the violent death of a child; a silhouetted amputation with plenty of noise; a heroine with nearly exclusively self-serving motivations; a few really screwed up marriages; murder and murder threats; several scenes with wounded soldiers, etc. And the d-word, of course! Damn, that would be. Maybe it's naive to think old movie are always good and wholesome.)

Anyway, there were a couple of very aggressive young women in Spencer's Mountain and plenty of kissing, which my older boys cringed through, because kissing is gross, you know. And I must admit that it was lengthy kissing.

Pretty entertaining, though. Clay (Henry Fonda) and Olivia Spencer (Maureen O'Hara) are the parents of nine children living in 1950s Wyoming with an amazing view of the Tetons and the valley at their feet. Clay is one of nine brothers, whose parents homesteaded in the area. They want education for their children, and the movie's about their struggles to get their oldest son Clayboy to college, so he won't end up working in the quarry like his dad. There's certainly beautiful scenery, and there are several amusing scenes with various small-town characters. Also one scene of the family's house in the distance while family members call out their good nights, just like in The Waltons.

So that's where the name "Johnboy" came from. Clayboy! I'm so smart.


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