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The Little Minister

(1934 b 110')

En: 6 Ed: 7

Based on the play by James M. Barrie, a new minister in a small Scotch town falls in love with a gypsy woman.

In 1840 Scotland the new "little minister" Gavin Dishart (John Beal) arrives with his mother. He gains the respect of his congregation by preaching against drunkenness and calling forward Rob Dow (Alan Hale). He tells the singing Babbie (Katharine Hepburn) that gypsies are not allowed there. Lord Rintoul and Captain Halliwell plan to arrest the ringleaders of the protesting weavers. Babbie asks Gavin to blow the horn three times, which is the signal for everyone to gather. The policeman Wearyworld (Andy Clyde) asks them to put their weapons down, but he is ignored. Gavin gets them to put them on the ground. Babbie tells them to stay together against the soldiers and leads them in throwing rocks. Gavin discovers he unknowingly gave the signal, and Babbie passes as his wife through the soldiers looking for the gypsy girl. Gavin tells Babbie his concern for his mother. Babbie writes to him in his Bible, causing him to change his sermon to the evil of woman in Genesis 3.

Dr. McQueen (Donald Crisp) and Gavin come to take Nanny to the poor house; but Babbie stops them by promising 5 pounds. The men are saying that the minister is in love. Babbie gives Gavin the money for Nanny, and he asks who she is and where she got her ring. She cries and says the kind of honest, good man she wants. Gavin says he is the man. Later she shines a lantern in his window, and he kisses her. Babbie finds Rob Dow's son Mike crying, because the woman with Gavin caused his father to drink. Mike asks her to go away, and she says she will. Babbie hopes to marry Lord Rintoul soon, and he says in a fortnight. Gavin gets a letter from Babbie that she is going away and not coming back. When Babbie takes money to Nanny, she meets Gavin. He hoped to marry her, and she says she is marrying Lord Rintoul, who raised her, admitting Rintoul does not know what love is, nor did she until she met Gavin. Rob Dow sees them kiss.

A church meeting is waiting for the minister and learns that he was with a woman. The elders declare the pulpit vacant. Gavin is reminded of the prayer meeting, and Babbie tells him to go. Babbie talks with his mother at the manse. The elders question her, and she asks them not to tell her mother he is dismissed. At the locked church door Rob Dow mistakenly stabs Gavin and carries him home. Gavin tells the elders Babbie is the woman he chose, then faints. The doctor arrives and puts everyone out of the room, as Babbie and the others pray for Gavin. Babbie apologizes to Rintoul, and he leaves. Gavin recovers and asks for Babbie, and they kiss.

Hepburn shines in this story that combines romance with spirituality. The rebellious gypsy radical finds her match in the forthright and sincere preacher, who cares about people and opposes fighting.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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