A botch job by Sam Goldwyn, who exercised his power as producer by changing directors—from Howard Hawks to William Wyler—halfway through the shooting. Some sources hold that Wyler shot only the last ten minutes, working from Hawks’s script; others claim that Wyler reshot much of Hawks’s work. But the first part of the film, the best, is unmistakably Hawks, as Edward Arnold and Walter Brennan (in an early part, his first Academy Award performance) fight for the hand of Frances Farmer, against the background of the north-woods logging country. The Edna Ferber story (like her Giant) then shifts generations, and the action loses much of its scale. Farmer remains a wonder, in one of her few fully realized parts as an early and lusty version of the Hawksian woman (1936).
In 1949 Robert Rossen‘s film of Robert Penn Warren‘s fictional study of Huey Long was received as a triumph of Art over Hollywood. Today, its realism seems bland, its moralizing forced, and as a whole it looks very much inferior to Raoul Walsh‘s A Lion Is in the Streets, which tackled demagoguery with much more fervor in 1952. Stars Broderick Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge won Oscars; writer Walter Bernstein was blacklisted.