Cast & Crew
Elnora Comstock, a lonely girl of fifteen, lives on a farm with her abusive, miserly mother Kate, deep in the wooded wastes of the Limberlost. Kate despises Elnora because she feels the girl is responsible for the death of her husband Frank. Fifteen years earlier, Frank fell into a swamp and drowned because Kate, in the throes of labor pains with Elnora, was unable to come to his rescue. Elnora desperately wants to go to high school with the other local children, but Kate refuses to pay for her books and tuition. Pete Reed, a backward youth who lives on an adjoining farm, secretly loves Elnora. One day, Pete is peeking through the window of the Comstock house when he sees Kate hide a role of money in a drawer, and hoping to help Elnora pay for school, steals it. Meanwhile, Elnora learns of the Bird Woman, a dealer in butterflies and relics, and to raise money for school, the girl parts with her most prized possession, a collection of butterflies that she caught in the woods. Although Kate still refuses to support her, Elnora enrolls in school, and through her own determination and the kindness of Roger Henley, the school principal, she becomes a star pupil. Upon discovering that the money in the drawer is missing, Kate blames Elnora for stealing it. Suspecting that Pete is involved, Elnora goes to the Reed house and there meets Jessie, Pete's ailing mother, who tells the girl about her father and gives her his violin and some music that he composed. While returning the stolen money to Kate, Elnora mentions that Mr. Henley has offered to teach her to play the violin. Furious, Kate threatens to smash the violin to pieces. Although the years of high school pass pleasantly for Elnora, her home life continues to be wretched. As graduation approaches, Mr. Henley and Pete accompany Elnora into the woods to hear her play the violin. Suddenly, Kate appears, tears the violin from Elnora's hands and hurls it into the swamp. When Elnora tells Kate that Jessie gave her the violin, Kate hurries to the Reed house. There, Jessie informs her that Frank fell into the swamp while returning home after spending the night with her. Realizing that she has been unjust to Elnora, Kate hastens home to dress and appears at Elnora's graduation, a changed woman. After the ceremony, Kate and Elnora leave the auditorium to start a new life together.
Philip Faulkner Jr.
Jerome Pycha Jr.
Edwin L. Wetzel
According to a pre-production Hollywood Reporter news item, Irving Briskin was initially slated to produce this picture, which was bought as a vehicle for Jeff Donnell. The Girl of the Limberlost marked former dialogue director Melchor G. (Mel) Ferrer's first directorial assignment. Ferrer later became a well-known actor. Gene Stratton Porter's novel was first adapted for the screen in 1924 by FBO. John Francis Dillon directed Ann Harding and James Rennie in that silent version (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.2099). In 1934 Monogram filmed a version of the story starring Louise Dresser and Ralph Morgan and directed by Christy Cabanne. The 1938 Monogram film Romance of the Limberlost, starring Jean Parker and Eric Linden and directed by William Nigh, was also suggested by Stratton Porter's novel (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.1610 and F3.3823).