Directed by King Vidor in 1952, takes place in the North Carolina of the 1950s. Here we meet Ruby Corey (Jennifer Jones) and Boake Tackman and is narrated by the town's new doctor, Saul Manfred (Bernard Phillips). They grew up but came from very different backgrounds. Ruby's family was dirt poor and lived out in the swamplands, while Boake's family lived in an ornate mansion where servants tended to their every need. As kids and then teenagers, their friendship didn't ruffle any social feathers but once they grew into adults and could no longer fight the attraction between one another, well, that was a different story.
See, Ruby was so in love with Boake that she figured they would, sooner rather than later, get married. Baoke, on the other hand, won't commit to her, be it because he doesn't want to marry ‘below' his social circle or not want to upset his high society family and friends. Regardless of his reasons, Ruby eventually decides that enough is enough and after he marries a girl from a wealthy family named Tracy (Phyllis Avery) she responds in kind and out of spite by getting hitched to Jim Gentry (Karl Malden). Jim's quite well off and people in town tend to respect him if for no other reason than they're in debt to him. Jim's first wife passed away suddenly and recently, and he's only too happy to connect with a beautiful, and much younger, woman like Ruby. Shortly after their vows, however, Jim dies in a car accident and Ruby winds up being blamed for it by many o the townsfolk. With a her late husband's finances at her disposal, Ruby's now got the cash she never had and the means to payback those who have wronged her.
Of course, there's more to how the story plays out than that but in the interest of avoiding spoilers we'll stay away. Ruby Gentry is pretty much standard southern melodrama but it's done very well here. The locations look good: the swamplands contrast wonderfully with the mansions, painting a very distinct line between Ruby's class and Boake's. This goes a long way in making Ruby's lot in life easier to both understand and to sympathize with. Of course, as she gets older and her temperament gets the better of her, she does some things that she should not do, but even when that happens we can't help but feel for her.
Jennifer Jones plays this role remarkably well. She's well cast here. Gorgeous enough that we can completely understand why the men in her life would take to her the way that they do, but no slouch in the brains or bravery departments. She's tough and passionate and Jones plays the role with the utmost conviction. She and Heston are really good together in the film. They have solid chemistry and they just ‘look right' to make sense in their respective roles. Karl Malden is also pretty solid here. His character is well aware of Ruby's undeniable and still smoldering attraction to Heston's Boake, but he takes her on as his bride anyway. He's likeable, kindly and generally just a good guy. Supporting work from James Anderson as Ruby's brother Jewel is also worth mentioning, he plays his part with some effective menace and while it's a supporting role, it's nevertheless important to the story and one that Anderson delivers very well.
The picture is well-paced and shot with enough style to make you pay attention, even during a few slower moments scattered about the film. There might be a bit of overblown romance here and there, but it looks good and the picture has no trouble holding our attention for eighty-two-minutes. Some pulpy, noirish elements work their way into the proceedings from time to time and the sharp, sometimes biting, dialogue is a lot of fun to listen to. It's a soap opera, sure, but it's a really entertaining one.The Blu-ray
Ruby Gentry arrives on a 25GB Blu-ray disc framed at 1.33.1 fullframe and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Aside from some minor print damage, this is a pretty nice-looking effort. Contrast looks good, black levels are solid and whites are bright and clean. There's good grey scale here and detail is pretty strong, particularly in close ups. There's nice depth and texture throughout and the image is free of any obvious noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifact related issues.Sound:
The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track sounds decent enough for a film of this vintage. There's some noticeable power behind the sound effects while the score and dialogue come through with decent clarity. Any hiss that creeps into the track is minor and the levels are properly balanced. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.Extras:
Extras are limited to a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Kino Blu-ray releases, menus and chapter selection.Final Thoughts:
Ruby Gentry might be fairly typical southern melodrama, but here it's done right. Heston and Malden are solid in their roles but it's the striking Jennifer Jones who really shines here, playing her hot heated with fiery aplomb. Kino's Blu-ray is light on extras but it does look and sound quite good. Recommended..