Thank you all for your patience on Wednesday and today; you know how family stuff can go. Now, where were we? Ah! The love triangle with the two men. 😀 Let’s talk about Grant first. When Missie is having the frontier equivalent of girl talk with Marty, Marty remarks, “He sounds like a fictional hero from one of your novels.” And indeed, he seems so. His family owns the railroad company, he travels with his extensive library and beautiful gramophone, he has a surrey with a driver, he immediately tells Missie he is interested in her, he invites her to dine at the hotel restaurant with his own beautiful dishes, and he seems very kind on top of all that.
Missie seems very eager to please him, and make a good impression. When he asks her if he can speak to Clark about courting her, there’s no hesitation. And she definitely has stars in her eyes, as well as makes a compelling argument for why she should marry him. But then when the giggling stops, the words that come out of Marty’s mouth are ones that I’ve never forgotten. She says that Missie needs to consult “not the feelings of [her] heart, but rather the thoughts of [her] heart” need to be consulted.
When she does consult the thoughts of her heart honestly, she finds that Grant would honor her as his wife, and treat her like a queen, but he wouldn’t see adversity “as something to get through together”. The thoughts of her heart take the wise counsel of her father, “Never despise meager beginnings”, and she chooses Willie: “the boy who stole [her] hair ribbons, and dipped [her] braids in ink” as the man for her.
Just like Clark, Willie is the quiet hero in this movie; only in this case, it’s meant quite literally. Willie is very soft spoken, and a man of few words. He only says 1 or 2 words the first several times we see him. But he saves Clark’s life, and the family’s farm.
Clark is still the amazing father we saw him as in “Love Comes Softly”. He and Aaron (Marty’s baby born in the “Love Comes Softly” are chopping and loading up wood. Clark is in mid-swing when Aaron cries out. Clark is distracted, and slices his own leg. But instead of being concerned about himself, he hobbles over to Aaron to make sure HE’S not hurt. He tries to get Aaron to wrap his belt above his knee to stop the bleeding, but Aaron panics, and can’t follow instructions quickly enough. Instead of getting angry or scolding, Clark just whispers, “It’s not your fault!” before he passes out.
Willie saves the day. He hears Aaron crying, rides over, ties the belt himself, and drives the wagon to the homestead. Even though he rides off without a word, he watches the family, (particularly Missie) toiling with plowing the field without Clark, and he comes back to take over. He saves Clark’s leg and life when infection sets in, he stays on to plant the crops, and even carves Clark a cane out of “a sturdy piece of oak”.
He does all this while he’s dealing with his own personal tragedy, and trying to face the ghosts of his past. When Willie was a young teenager, his younger brother, Mattie, followed him when he was setting traps for their father. It got dark, they got lost, and poor Mattie froze to death. The family tore apart, their mother left, their father still hasn’t forgiven Willie, and Willie spent 6 years away because he couldn’t forgive himself. But he is finally able to get past all of that, and on the day he and Missie get married, his father shows up. He stands off a little ways, but he does shake hands with his son.
While I wasn’t able to speak to Michael himself, I was able to chat with Cindy Kelley, who wrote the movie with him. She shared some of her favorite moments. She was a big fan of the little things. Here’s a little of what she said:
“I loved seeing the depth of love between Clark and Marty and how much she had grown in her role as both a wife and mother and partner for Clark. One of my favorite small things was when Willie and Missie sit down to dinner with her family and he reaches for her hand under the table.” A woman after my own heart! Those were two of my favorite moments too!
One story she shared with me was quite remarkable. She has a very strong memory of Mackenzie Astin, who played Grant. He “was such a gentleman to everyone. I heard him call everyone by name – from the craft services people, to the drivers, to the guys hauling equipment. When I commented on it, he said because he’d grown up in the business (his parents are Patty Duke and John Astin, his brother is Sean Astin) he was taught at an early age that ALL the people on the crew were of equal importance – and everyone deserves to have their name remembered. He was such a nice guy. MLJ and I have written numerous projects together over the last twenty years, but the “Love” movies are still my favorites.”
Thank you, Cindy! First hand experience and experience is the best! Well Hearties, NOW, we’ve reached the end of Michael Landon Jr.’s birthday spotlight week. I hope you had a marvelous birthday, Michael! And I hope you Hearties have a marvelous weekend. I’ll be back on Wednesday. This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!