Spitfire (aks Miss Hicks) (1934): John Cromwell’s Pre-Code Hillbilly Melodrama, Starring Katharine Hepburn, Robert Young and Ralph Bellamy

John Cromwell directed Spitfire, a Pre-Code drama based on the play Trigger by Lula Vollmer, starring Katharine Hepburn, Robert Young and Ralph Bellamy.

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This modest tale centers on wo engineers building a dam in the mountains, John Stafford (Robert Young) and George Fleetwood (Ralph Bellamy), who become attracted to the hillbilly “spitfire” Trigger Hicks (Katharine Hepburn), the local faith healer.

In addition to the romantic entanglements, problems arise when when the locals think Trigger is a witch.

A savage woman living at the bottom of the woods, Hicks earns some money by washing laundry. She feels invested with a divine mission, the day she is credited with the resurrection of an ancestor.

However, she makes a mistake, kidnapping a baby in order to treat him, and the child dies. She misses being stoned, protected by the two engineers, one of whom, having hidden from him that he was married, promised him a better life. Strange atmosphere, between rusticity and superstitions.

The film was mildly popular at the box-office, making a profit of $113,000.

Katharine Hepburn as Trigger Hicks
Robert Young as John Stafford
Ralph Bellamy as George Fleetwood
Martha Sleeper as Eleanor Stafford
Louis Mason as Bill Grayson
Sara Haden (as Sarah Haden) as Etta Dawson
Virginia Howell as Granny Raines
Sidney Toler as Jim Sawyer
Will Geer (as High Ghere) as West Fry
John Beck as Jake Hawkins
Therese Wittler as Mrs. Jim Sawyer


Director: John Cromwell
Script: Jane Murfin, Lula Vollmer

Production companies RKO

Running time: 87 minutes