Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence

Watch Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence

  • Passed
  • 1939
  • 1 hr 2 min
  • 6.3  (389)

Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence is a 1939 film directed by Ricardo Cortez, which became one of the many movies produced during the Great Depression era that reflects the pursuit of the American Dream amidst economic adversity and social challenges. This cinematic piece, while not as commonly recalled as some of its contemporary works, provides a narrative about hope, companionship, and the relentless human spirit to strive for a better life. The film captures the zeitgeist of the late 1930s through its portrayal of characters and their respective journeys.

The movie begins by introducing us to a young and ambitious New Yorker named Joe Riley, portrayed by Glenn Ford in his first credited screen role. Joe embodies the optimistic persistence of many during that era, as he worked numerous jobs to fulfill his dream of owning a piece of land in Arizona. His dream represents more than just a parcel of earth; it’s a symbolic cornerstone of stability and prosperity, something that so many sought during the tumultuous period of the 1930s.

As Joe sets off on his journey, Jean Rogers plays Anita Santos, a character who becomes entangled in Joe's quest. Anita’s mysterious past and her current predicaments are revealed gradually, adding layers to the narrative. Rogers delivers a performance that brings depth and resilience to Anita, adding a touch of complexity to the storyline, which is driven by the hope for a new beginning.

Raymond Walburn portrays Tony Rosetti, an eccentric yet affable character who provides both comic relief and a touch of wisdom throughout the story. Tony's role in the journey of Joe helps to weave together the themes of camaraderie and human connection, which are central to the film. Through his interactions and discourses with Joe, Tony helps to lay the groundwork for an evolving philosophy that there may be a literal heaven on earth if one is willing to pursue it.

Marjorie Rambeau stars as Mamie, with a notable performance that contributes significantly to the film's emotional landscape. Her character, seasoned by life's hardships, interacts with the main cast in ways that test and reveal their own convictions and humanity. Mamie’s backstory and interaction with the main characters serve as poignant reminders of the societal challenges of the time and the complex nature of human relationships formed under strain.

The narrative unfolds as these disparate characters come together on the road, each with their own reasons for heading west but united by the common goal of finding a better life beyond the horizon. The film does an excellent job in showcasing their collective journey, marked by moments of levity, despair, and introspection, as they traverse the American landscape, which itself acts as a silent character embodying both the ruggedness and promise of the era.

The title Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence is itself a metaphor that juxtaposes the idealistic vision of heaven—freedom, prosperity, and happiness—with the harsh reality symbolized by the barbed wire—limitations, dangers, and the physical and emotional boundaries that constrict and define human existence. The film explores this dichotomy as the characters encounter various challenges, both literal and figurative, that test their resilience and commitment to their dreams.

As the travelers make their way across the country, they encounter a diverse array of individuals who further enrich the storyline with their distinctive perspectives, adding to the film’s commentary on the social landscape of the 1930s. The characters they meet represent a cross-section of American society during the Depression, each with their own struggles and stories that serve to highlight the broader themes of inequality, struggle, and shared humanity.

The film also incorporates aspects of romance, drama, and adventure, weaving them into a narrative tapestry that aims to not only entertain but also to offer a reflective insight into the human condition. The camaraderie and bonds formed between the main characters serve as a testament to the power of human connection and shared aspiration in the face of adversity.

Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence, while at times featuring romanticized elements typical of the era’s films, does not shy away from examining the gritty reality of life for many at the time. It provides a window into the collective dreams and realities of a cross-section of society through its character-driven plot and diverse ensemble.

With the backdrop of the American West and the promise it held, the film progresses to depict a journey that is as much internal as it is external. As the characters navigate both their personal challenges and the obstacles they face together, the film invites viewers to reflect on the universal quest for a place to call home and the enduring human desire to pursue one's own version of heaven, even if it might be bounded by barbed wire.

Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence is a 1939 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 2 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.3.

Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence
Where to Watch Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence
Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence is available to watch, stream, download and on demand at FuboTV. Some platforms allow you to rent Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 2 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.3  (389)