A devout Southern Indiana Quaker family attempts to resist the call to arms as the Civil War marches closer and closer to their home. But their Christian pacifism gets sorely tested by the events that soon engulf their once quiet lifestyle. As southern rebels approach the homestead, a young Quaker woman falls in love with a Northern soldier. Her brother struggles between his Christian morality and beliefs of peaceful co-existence with all men, and the ever looming threat of bloody confrontation with his fellow human beings, who were also created by God and in His image. Their mother wants nothing to do with the conflict but soon is thrust into a life and death choice after her husband, who refuses to fight, goes off to find and bring home their son from the lines of battle.
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Continuity: During the scene when Jess is grazed by a bullet, the laceration on his forehead runs side to side. When the scene changes angles, the cut runs up and down.
Goof: Friendly Persuasion takes place during the Civil War and it's fighting is based on a real battle that took place in 1863 in southern Indiana. The Minneapolis Machine Company Steam Engine shown in the movie wouldn't be manufactured until after 1887.
Josh Birdwell: (about his going to war) I don't want to die. I don't think I could kill anyone if I tried. But I have to try, so long as other people have to.
Rebel Soldier: (after being given some food) PEACH PIE!
Little Jess: It's RATTLESNAKE pie!
Rebel Soldier: Best rattlesnake pie I ever tasted!
Bing Crosby turned down the role of Jess Birdwell.
Katharine Hepburn turned down the role of Eliza Birdwell.
Ingrid Bergman turned down the role of Eliza Birdwell.
Anthony Perkins had just been signed to a play in New York after giving up on Hollywood after one film. William Wyler convinced him to return and Friendly Persuasion made him the most sought after young actor in film of the day.
Gary Cooper had to be convinced to take the role of a pacifist Quaker father because he initially didn't think his movie-going fans would accept him in the part. It became one of his most popular roles.
Even though Friendly Persuasion's original shooting budget more than doubled during production, the movie was a theatrical smash hit, with a box office gross of over $8 million dollars.
Screenplay writer Michael Wilson's name was left off of the original theatrical credits because he had been blacklisted for pleading the Fifth Amendment before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952. His name would be added to the credits posthumously in 1996.
The movie's theme song, Friendly Persuasion, Thee I Love, became a huge hit for fifties pop singer Pat Boone.
Original shooting budget for Friendly Persuasion was $1.5 million dollars. The finished cost of the film topped $3 million.
Director William Wyler and actor Gary Cooper had both wanted to do a screen adaptation of Jessamyn West's novel but because of their conflicting schedules, they had to wait eight years before they were both freed up to make the movie version.
Friendly Persuasion was nominated for five Academy Awards:
Best Sound Recording
Best Adapted Screenplay