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Film / A Girl Named Sooner

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"Mac, you just don't know what you're asking of that little girl. Now you and Elizabeth and this town here—all of us—our life is like a different PLANET to her!"
Sheriff Rotteman

A Girl Named Sooner is a 1975 NBC Made-for-TV Movie directed by Delbert Mann, based on Suzanne Clauser's 1972 novel of the same name.

It's about a young girl named Sooner (Susan Deer) who lives with her guardian, an elderly moonshiner named Mam Hawes (Cloris Leachman), in a backwoods near the small town of Vevay, Indiana during The Great Depression. Mam brings Sooner into town and attempts to collect foster support on the child, bringing her worth as a guardian into question. Enter town veterinarian "Mac" McHenry (Richard Crenna) and his wife Elizabeth (Lee Remick), a couple who don't have have a child. They take in Sooner.

This film was never released on video, but is on YouTube here, though for some segments the sound is off by a second or so.

Tropes in this film:

  • Automaton Horses: Averted. Mam Hawes whips poor William into town and William does not survive.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Mac hopes to bring his despondent wife out of her depression by bringing Sooner home. It does work out in the end, but it's a long road.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. It doesn't take long for Sooner, when back with Mam Hawes, to end up unkempt and dirty again.
  • Country Mouse: Sooner is fascinated by the electricity and modern things in town.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Bird is killed by Sooner and a group of kids who are trying to get him to fly.
  • Evil Gloating: Mam Hawes gets some when Elizabeth shows up looking for Sooner.
  • Free-Range Children: All the kids in town. and especially Sooner, who even is given a ride by a guy outside of town.
  • Grammar Nazi: Elizabeth tries to correct Sooner's grammar. It starts to work near the end.
  • Grave Robbing: Sooner exhumes Bird and reburies the bird near Mam Hawe's shack.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In the end, Mam Hawes allows Sooner to go with the McHenrys, and is shown to be sad about it.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The girls doing jump rope tease Sooner. Sooner and the kids throw things at Bird to try to get him to fly.
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Alluded to with Elizabeth. It's never said why she was in the hospital, but it seems she had a miscarriage or lost a baby, and that's why she is in such a deep depression at the beginning of the movie.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Sooner throws up on the Ferris wheel, but we aren't shown if anyone beneath her got hit with vomit.
  • Nobody Poops: Bird doesn't seem to ever leave any bird poop on Sooner's shoulder, or under the perch.
  • Parrot Pet Position: Bird is perfectly happy on Sooner's shoulder.
  • Real-Place Background: Vevay, Indiana is a real place along the southern border of Indiana, and the movie was filmed in and around it. It's mentioned by name as the location the film takes place in the Sheriff's office early in the movie. The creek scenes were filmed along Indian Creek. The bridge Sooner plays near at the beginning of the film was slated for destruction, but was kept up so it could be filmed. The river you often see in the background in many scenes is the Ohio.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Sooner, after a bath and a change of clothes.
  • Training Montage: As Sooner learns how to jump rope.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: When Sooner vomits on the Ferris Wheel, it's over the rear of the gondola, so we don't have to see.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Sooner's name is "Sooner".