Ballad of Lucy Whipple - April 7th 10p ET
Ballad of Lucy Whipple - April 7th 10p ET
Added: 1 year ago
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (2001)
Set in 1850s California (but actually filmed in Utah), this made-for-TV movie features Jena Malone as title character Lucy Whipple. The emphasis, however, is on Lucy's "mule-stubborn" mother Arvella Whipple (Glenn Close), who defies 19th century sexual stereotyping to try her luck as a gold prospector. Stuck in the ill-named California mining village of Lucky Diggins, Lucy is convinced that her maw is a bit "tetched" in the head.
It takes a chance encounter in the nearby woods to show Lucy that perhaps Arvella is not as foolish as she seems, and that California is not the muddy hellhole that it appears to be at first glance.
Adapted from a novel by Karen Cushman, Golden Dreams: The Ballad of Lucy Whipple was first broadcast by CBS on February 18, 2001.
Directed by: Jeremy Paul Kagan
Release year: 2001
Runtime: 120 Minutes
A recently widowed mother and her children learn to cope with rigors of the frontier in THE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE, a two-hour made-for-television movie distributed by Columbia TriStar International Television, a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.
For the prospectors of the California gold-rush town of Lucky Diggins, life is a difficult blur of desperation, cheap whiskey and cheaper women. But for Arvella Whipple (Glenn Close), a newly widowed mother of three, it is the perfect place to realize her dream of a new life on the frontier.
Unfortunately for her daughter, California Whipple (Jena Malone), the dream promises to be a hellish nightmare. The prospectors are all uncouth, illiterate barbarians and her mother is too busy running the town's only boarding house to realize how lonely and unhappy her daughter has become. But when her mother sends her on a reluctant foray into the woods to hunt for food, California encounters a desperately ragged girl who teaches her new ways to appreciate her new environment.
Determined to establish her own identity, California changes her name to Lucy and begins changing things for herself and those around her. She teaches her bedraggled friend to read, befriends a runaway slave and introduces him to the reluctant townsfolk, starts her own lending library for the miners and successfully defends a woman accused of killing her abusive husband.
Lucy faces her greatest challenge, however, when her rambunctious brother, Butte (Michael Welch), falls ill and dies, leaving Arvella helpless with depression. But when her mother eventually regains her vigor and decides to leave, Lucy realizes that she has become a vital part of the community and decides to stay in Lucky Diggins, where her heart has found its home.
Arvella Whipple and her three children, Sierra, Butte, and 11-year-old California Morning, make a fresh start in Lucky Diggins, a town of mud, tents, and rough-hewn residents. It's a far cry from Massachusetts; as her mother determinedly settles in, California rebelliously changes her name to Lucy and starts saving every penny for the trip back east.
Ever willing to lose herself in a book when she should be doing errands, Lucy is an irresistible teenager; her lively narration and stubborn, slightly naive self-confidence (as well as a taste for colorful invective: "Gol durn, rip-snortin' rumhole and cussed, dad-blamed, dag diggety, thundering pisspot," she storms) recall the narrator of Catherine, Called Birdy (1994), without seeming as anachronistic. Other characters are drawn with a broader brush, a shambling platoon of unwashed miners with hearts (and in one case, teeth) of gold.
Arvella eventually moves on, but Lucy has not only lost her desire to leave California, but found a vocation as well: town librarian.
California Morning 'Lucy' Whipple: You were right, Mama. You told me to follow my heart, and my heart is yelling at me to stay so... I'm staying here, in god-forsaken burn-out washed-up Lucky Diggins.
California Morning 'Lucy' Whipple: And we're gonna need a library, because that's my heart's desire so... I'm stayin' put.
Arvella Whipple: My goodness, but you are mule-stubborn.
California Morning 'Lucy' Whipple: Just like you, Mama.
[she writes a letter as the townsfolk help build the Lucky Diggins Library (Est. 1851)]
California Morning 'Lucy' Whipple: Dear Mama, Clyde, and Prairie, we're rebuilding the town with a new boardinghouse and a real library. The miners all pay a dollar a month to run the library and pay me, the head librarian. We already have eighty one books. New folks arrive every week. I miss you all horribly, but you were right all along to bring us here, Mama. Thank you. Your loving daughter, Miss Lucy Whipple, librarian and hearts-contented citizen of Lucky Diggins. It's where things change everyday.