Cross Creek

Rated 4.0

Director Martin Ritt made Hud and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold in the 1960s, but spent his twilight years turning out one loving, liberal-humanist soap opera after another. One of his last was Cross Creek (Sounder, Conrack, and Norma Rae are also part of the cycle), based on the memoirs of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. An aspiring writer, the stubborn Rawlings (Mary Steenburgen) divorced her husband and moved alone to a desolate patch of the Florida Everglades, where she met the hardscrabble inhabitants who would eventually inspire stories like The Yearling. Cross Creek is rich with period detail, beautiful photography and fine performances, especially Rip Torn and Alfre Woodard, although Steenburgen is just passable in a difficult role.