Man in the Moon [1960]

Director: Robert Mulligan
Stars: Sam Waterston, Tess Harper, Gail Strickland, Reese Witherspoon, Jason London
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 104 minutes

A jewel of a sleeper, The Man in the Moon comes off as a nearly perfect short story of two sisters' first competition in the field of love. In a 1950's small Louisiana farm town, 14-year-old Dani falls for Court, a 17-year-old engaging neighbor boy. The two become great friends, but Court is more interested in Dani's 17-year-old sister, Maureen, who is blossoming. Dani will look for any justification why she should be with Court, but as human law dictates, there is no cure for a 14-year-old with a crush. The film is another winning portrayal of small-town adolescence from Robert Mulligan (To Kill A Mockingbird). His eye for casting is impeccable, with Sam Waterston and Tess Harper as the earnest parents and newcomer Jason London as the dreamy Court. The real find, though, is Reese Witherspoon as Dani. Her timeless work here is magical. The PG-13 rating is a bit heavy-handed--although the film does not shy away from its look at budding sensuality, or a horrific and emotional accident. Mature 10-year-olds may find one of their favorite films here. --Doug Thomas

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