Country (film)

Country (film) A soft-spoken farmer’s wife, Jewell Ivy, demonstrates surprising heroism when faced with the government’s forced foreclosure of her family’s farm. Her husband, Gil, is nearly destroyed by the tragic turn of events. Jewell manages to hold her family together while enlisting the aid of other farmers facing the same problems. Released on September 29, 1984 after a premiere on September 28 at the New York Film Festival. A Touchstone film. Directed by Richard Pearce. 110 min. Stars Jessica Lange (Jewell Ivy), Sam Shepherd (Gil Ivy), Wilford Brimley (Otis), Matt Clark (Tom McMullen), Therese Graham (Marlene Ivy), Levi L. Knebel (Carlisle Ivy), Jim Haynie (Arlon Brewer), Sandra Seacat (Louise Brewer), Alex Harvey (Fordyce). The film was co-produced by actress Lange. Along with screenwriter/co-producer William D. Wittliff, Lange fleshed out the basic plot of Country and met with farmers in the Midwest whose livelihoods had been threatened by forced foreclosures. The start of production saw cast and crew in a race against the elements to film an Iowa corn harvest. Sam Shepard took the controls of a massive gleaner-combine, which harvested the crop. Next the company moved onto the key set some 20 miles northeast of Waterloo in the farmlands of Iowa. There, a turn-of-the-century farmstead, slated to be demolished by its owner who wanted additional acreage for growing feed corn, became the Ivy farm. For three months the company worked 12-hour days capturing the reality of farm living. A secondary location was the rural hamlet of Readlyn, Iowa, with its giant grain elevators and broad main street. Winter arrived sooner than expected, and during the climactic auction sequence in which 100 local townspeople appeared, the wind chill factor steadied at 25 degrees below zero. Director Pearce could only film in five-minute segments before the Iowans had to break for the barn where red-hot butane heaters unsuccessfully attempted to warm the icy air. The harsh winter caused the production to move back to the Disney Burbank studio where interiors and the tornado sequences were filmed. The affecting piano solos were provided by George Winston. Jessica Lange was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress. Released on video in 1985 and 1989.