The Shepherd of the Hills (1941 film)

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The Shepherd of the Hills
The Shepherd of the Hills.jpg
Film poster
Directed byHenry Hathaway
Screenplay by
Based onThe Shepherd of the Hills
1907 novel
by Harold Bell Wright
Produced byJack Moss
  • W. Howard Greene
  • Charles Lang
Edited byEllsworth Hoagland
Music byGerard Carbonara
Paramount Pictures
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • July 18, 1941 (1941-07-18)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Betty Field and John Wayne

The Shepherd of the Hills is a 1941 American drama film starring John Wayne, Betty Field and Harry Carey.[1] The supporting cast includes Beulah Bondi, Ward Bond, Marjorie Main and John Qualen. The picture was Wayne's first film in Technicolor and was based on the novel of the same name by Harold Bell Wright. The director was Henry Hathaway, who directed several other Wayne films including True Grit almost three decades later.

The story was filmed previously in the silent era by author Wright himself in 1919, released on State Rights basis. It was filmed again, in The Shepherd of the Hills (1928 film), starring Molly O'Day at First National Pictures, and later, in color in 1964.

The film also prominently features two uncredited pieces of music. The first is used as a leit motif to represent the spirit of Young Matt's deceased mother: the Wiegenlied ("Guten Abend, gut' Nacht" [1868]) of Johannes Brahms, commonly known in English as the Brahms Lullaby. The second uncredited composition was "There's A Happy Hunting Ground," words and music copyrighted by Sam Coslow, sung by "Fuzzy" Knight, accompanied by an a cappella onscreen chorus in multi-voiced harmony; the song is sung again by the chorus alone over the closing credits.



Filming took place in Big Bear Lake and Moon Ridge, California.[2]

Differences from the novel[edit]

Only a few plot elements and characters from the novel are used in the 1941 film, and those are depicted differently, so it is basically a different story.

While the novel interposed fiction with portrayals of actual persons residing in the Missouri Ozarks, in the early Branson area, the film departed markedly from the book's presentations. Old Matt, a patriarch, mill owner and influential person within the community, is presented in the film as a doddering fool, henpecked by his wife, Aunt Mollie. In the novel she's a nurturing, kindly, loyal wife and friend, but in this film she is a shrill, nasty moonshiner. The "Shepherd" of the title, a cultured, sympathetic visitor from Chicago who contributes positively to the society he's visiting, in this film is an aging ex-convict. In total odds with the book, he is here Young Matt's (John Wayne's) messianic father, with a shootout perpetrated by "Big John." Other characters differ as markedly from Wright's novel.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Shepherd of the Hills". New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  2. ^ "The Shepherd of the Hills". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Los Angeles, California: American Film Institute. Retrieved April 5, 2020.

External links[edit]