Green Promise, The (1948): Russell’s Farming Drama, Starring Walter Brennan and Natalie Wood

William D. Russell directed The Green Promise, a film made to display the concept of the 4-H Club and highlight some urgnt farming issues, such as soil erosion, government programs, and individual enterprise.

The title refers to the local preacher’s sermon about a story from the Book of Exodus, in which God made “green promise” to lead Moses into land of milk and honey.

The preacher reminds his congregation that the fulfillment of the promise requires faith, difficult journeys and open-mindedness.

Leaving behind a failing farm, the Matthews family travel to pastures new. They get help from agricultural county agent David Barkley (Robert Paige), who is immediately attracted to Matthews’s eldest daughter, Deborah.

However, needing Deborah, and fearing David may take her away, Matthews refuses David’s help. He is a stubborn man, who sleeps through the pastor’s sermon on education, understanding and tolerance.

Though she’s only ten, Susan (Natalie Wood) joins the 4-H club, secures loan from the bank and buys two lambs.

Barkley strongly advises Matthews against chopping down the forest atop a hill on his land, but Matthews sells the land to a logging company. Then a great storm comes and washes the mud down the incline towards the homestead.

Fearful for her beloved lambs, Susan braves the dangers to rescue the lambs. David returns and rescues both Susan and the lambs. Deborah is atop the hill trying to move rocks to build a dam to save their home from the torrent of water. David arrives and pulls her back just as the land falls away.

Realizing that he could have harmed his daughters due to his ignorance and selfishness, Matthews apologizes to his family and welcomes David.

In the end, the community of 4-H members help them clean up the land after the storm damage.

Marguerite Chapman as Deborah Matthews
Walter Brennan as Mr. Matthews
Robert Paige as David Barkley
Natalie Wood as Susan Anastasia Matthews
Ted Donaldson as Phineas Matthews
Connie Marshall as Abigail Matthews
Robert Ellis as Peter “Buzz” Wexford