One of the films that contributed to the reason why we really, really like Sally Field is Robert Benton’s Places In The Heart. Once again, the film’s setting is a small rural town in the south, Waxahatchee, Texas during the Depression. This film chronicles the struggles of Edna Spaulding, a sheltered white woman whose life and family are suddenly tossed into chaos from tragedy as surely as the storms threaten to destroy Edna’s cotton crop. Edna’s sheriff husband is killed in an accident. Edna has never had to deal with things on her own, her husband had always taken care of everything.
Edna faces economic ruin and the loss of her farm when a wandering black man named Moses agrees to help her plant cotton crops and assist her in keeping the farm and family together. Edna at first resists the efforts of Moses and offers him only a meal. She finds him chopping wood the next day and making an effort to interact with her children. They come to a mutual agreement. Edna also agrees to take in a border, Mr. Will, who also happens to be a blind man. Actually, the bank manager who holds the mortgage on the farm secures Mr. Will his spot in Edna’s home virtually be coercion. Mr. Will was wounded during the war. Edna, Mose and Mr. Will face many challenges they must overcome. Edna’s sister is too poor and immersed in her own problems and dysfunctional family life to help, including an extra-marital affair that threatens her family.
A tornado is the first challenge to the new cotton crops. When the tornado passes, Mr. Will says to Moses “How bad is it?” Moses replies “Everything’s a little bent, but it’s still here.” The line is reminiscent of the main theme of the film, that, despite life’s tornadoes and struggles, the important thing is to survive them. However, despite the best efforts of Edna and Moses, the bottom drops out of the cotton market. Mr. Denby from