Stars In My Crown
Based on Joe David Brown’s novel, a preacher clashes with a young doctor and the KKK in a small town.
After the Civil War parson Josiah Grey (Joel McCrea) arrives and preaches in a saloon. People build a church. Orphan John Kenyon (Dean Stockwell) lives with Josiah and his wife Harriet Grey (Ellen Drew). John goes fishing with black Uncle Famous (Juano Hernandez). Lon Backett (Ed Begley) says his ore has run into the land of Famous, and he offers him 80 cents an acre; but Famous says no.
Josiah and John visit farmer Jed Isbell (Alan Hale), his sons, and his wife. In town Perry Lokey bullies Chloroform Wiggins (Arthur Hunnicutt) with his whip until Josiah grabs the whip and throws him in the mud.
Dr. Daniel Harris Jr. (James Mitchell) tells Josiah that his father needs rest. Dr. Harris Sr. (Lewis Stone) tells Josiah that he is dying. He sends his son to treat Annie. Josiah is summoned and prays for Annie as she dies. Dr. Harris Jr. asks Josiah not to interfere again.
Dr. Harris Jr. removes a fish hook from a scared boy, and he meets Faith Samuels (Amanda Blake). Daniel asks her to go fishing with him. When they come back, his father has died.
John and Chase see night riders ruin Famous’s farm. In the morning Backett offers Famous 50 cents an acre; but Jed tells his sons to help Famous. Daniel asks Faith to leave town with him.
Sam Houston Jones (Charles Kemper) arrives to entertain and offers Josiah’s church ten percent. Josiah declines but goes to the show. Jones does magic with John, who collapses. Daniel says that he has typhoid. Josiah tells Harriet to sleep. She cries and wishes she could tell John he is a good boy. John recovers. Harriet stays home from church with John.
Josiah talks to children in school, and Daniel warns him not to spread the disease. Eight children get the fever. A boy dies, and Daniel blames Josiah. He tells Harriet that Daniel may be right, and he will stay home.
Another child dies, and Daniel realizes more is needed. John goes to Famous, but his hunting dog has pups. Famous says that the school well may be causing the fevers, and John tells Josiah and Harriet. Chloroform tells Josiah that Daniel has summoned him to see Faith. Josiah prays by her bed, and she gets better.
Men in KKK hoods warn Famous he must leave or be lynched. Josiah goes to Backett at his store and tells them to stop persecuting Famous. Josiah tells Jed and his sons to leave their guns behind. Hooded men come for Famous. Josiah says Famous is ready to die, and he reads his will that gives various men his possessions. Josiah says they can have him, but they leave. John sees that the paper is blank.
People sing in church, and even Jed comes in. They sing “Stars In My Crown.”
This folksy spiritual drama portrays different forms of love and selfishness that sometimes clash. The underlying faith suggests that they are all ways that people learn how to live better in this world.