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Stars in My Crown (1950)





Shortly after the American Civil War, preacher Josiah Gray (Joel McCrea) arrives in the town of Walesburg. He heads straight for the saloon to give his first sermon. When the patrons laugh at him, he pulls out two guns, cowing the men into listening.

Josiah settles in and becomes a well-respected member of the community. The people build a church. He marries Harriet (Ellen Drew) and raises her orphan nephew John (Dean Stockwell). (The story is narrated by Marshall Thompson, as an adult John.)

When the beloved Dr. Harris, Sr. (Lewis Stone) dies, his place is taken by his son (James Mitchell), but the younger, unreligious man is not well-liked and wants to leave Walesburg. He falls in love with the schoolteacher, Faith Samuels (Amanda Blake). She is reluctant to marry him, as he insists on moving away.

John comes down with typhoid. Dr. Harris, Jr. warns Josiah to stay away from others, to avoid spreading the disease, but Josiah ignores him and soon, others are stricken, including Faith. When Harris blames Josiah, his faith is shaken; he closes the church and withdraws from the community. John recovers and discovers the cause was tainted well water. Harris's work on behalf of his patients forges a bond between him and Walesburg. When it seems Faith is dying, Harris summons the preacher. Josiah's prayers are answered; Faith recovers, and the man of science and the man of faith are reconciled.

Josiah is tested again. Leading businessman Lon Backett (Ed Begley) wants to buy the land of freed slave Uncle Famous Prill (Juano Hernandez). He needs the mica deposit to keep his mine in operation, but Uncle Famous refuses to sell. The out-of-work miners trample the old man's crops and scatter his livestock, yet he stubbornly holds out, and is given an ultimatum: get out or else. Josiah declines the armed assistance of his old war buddy, Jed Isbell (Alan Hale), and his sons (including an uncredited James Arness), and waits with Uncle Famous for the lynch mob to show up in their Ku Klux Klan costumes. Josiah offers no resistance, but asks the mob to first listen to him read Uncle Famous's will. With each item, he reminds the beneficiary of the old man's past kindness to that individual. Shamed, the mob disperses, with Lon Backett leading the way. Afterwards, John picks up the pages Josiah had read and, seeing nothing written on them, says it's not a will. Josiah replies, "It's the will of God."





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