THE LITTLE SHEPHERD OF KINGDOM COME began as a bucolic 1902 novel set in the contested border state of Kentucky before and during the Civil War. Filmed twice in the silent 20s, it was remade in 1961 as a vehicle for kids and as a hopeful launch into acting for pop & country singer Jimmie Rodgers. It succeeded passably enough on part of its mission (at least for kidlet audiences of the JFK Era, which may as well be The Civil War for modern children) as it sports an attractive look to the production, directed by Andrew V.McLaglen on scenic spots around Lexington in Kentucky and near Big Bear Lake & Valley in California. It’s helped by a couple of pros in the supporting cast: Chill Wills as a kindly Southern gent, and George Kennedy in his dog-mean days as a baddie.
Unfortunately, Mr. Rodgers charm as a singer (“Honeycomb”, “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”) does not translate on film, since he has at best three expressions, all of which pretty much look the same, kind of a frozen smile. Co-star Luana Patten isn’t strong either, so the movie sags when they’re making sweet. McLaglen stages a Yank-Reb skirmish, sort of a warmup for what he’d do later in Shenandoah, but it just makes noise and dust in lieu of any sense about placement of its cartwheeling extras and stuntmen.
108 minutes, with Robert Dix, Neil Hamilton, Morris Ankrum, Lane Chandler, Ed Faulkner.