A true animal weepie, The Yearling apparently upset star Jane Wyman’s daughter so much when she saw it that she refused to talk to her mother for a fortnight.
So get the hankies ready for this lovely tale of a boy named Jody (Claude Jarman Jr, who won a special Oscar for his acting debut) growing up after the American Civil War. His warm father (Peck) lets him adopt a young fawn and keep it as a pet, but his strict mother (Wyman) is less than impressed when, as a yearling, the animal tramples and eats their crops. Oh dear.
A sad story of loss based on Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s book, this isn’t for children who are very easily upset, as it really tugs at the heartstrings all the way through. But it’s also incredibly sweet, and well worth the whole box of tissues you’ll need to get through it. Originally released as a two-hour movie, a shorter edition was released in the fifties, and also shown on TV. It’s not as good, so make sure you watch the longer version for the full (sob) story.
Is The Yearling suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
None, but the family hardships and the fawn’s ultimate fate are very upsetting.