Blu-ray Review – Spencer’s Mountain

Spencer’s Mountain

Director: Delmer Daves 

Screenplay: Delmer Daves

Minutes: 118

Year: 1963

Score: 5.53

Release: Warner Archive

Spencer’s Mountain was the source of televisions family The Waltons. If The Waltons were more similar to Henry Fonda’s character, I would have been more interested in the TV show. It was not.


Grandpa Spencer fathered nine boys in the shadow of the Grand Teton mountain bearing their name. His son Clay (Henry Fonda) married Olivia (Maureen O’Hara) and had nine more kids, “all thoroughbreds.” Now the eldest son is out of high school, eager for more in life. But college money is hard to come by.

Spencer’s Mountain has deep roots too. It’s based on the Earl Hamner Jr. novel that later inspired TV’s The Waltons. The pleasures of Delmer Daves’ film are as plentiful as trout in its swirling streams. Fonda and O’Hara shine in a cast that includes Wally Cox, Donald Crisp and James MacArthur. Max Steiner supplies an evocative score. Breathtaking fields and forests add visual splendor. All enhance this beloved story of human values – and reaching for your dreams.

The film is not perfect, it is close, but it dragged a little bit after the tree scene. But, the film is gorgeous and as I mentioned in the opening it is a fairly important film in a string of morality programing. One of my issues here is that when they water down adult themes they water down the familial difficulties which influence the viewers.

When compared to the watered down TV family programming Spencer’s Mountain is a masterpiece and Henry Fonda’s performance is the heart and soul of that statement. Which is an issue for the film though, since Fonda holds the film together for me any scene without the actor struggles to hold my attention. Also, when he outclasses everyone else it starts to become a caricature. 

If you want some beautiful photography I would wager you could get some here. If you want a masterclass in out acting your cast members, here it is. You can get both of these ifs in hundreds of other films which I would feel comfortable recommending. If you are a fan of The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, or other moral, pastoral, programs, they you should definitely check this release out. You will not, likely, be disappointed.

The film is available to order on and while it is not available to stream on there are hundreds of other fine films for you to stream.

Special Features

  • NEW HD Master
  • Vintage Documentary Featurette “Spencer’s Mountain: Grand Teton Premiere”
  • Vintage Henry Fonda Interview
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English SDH subtitles

Director: 5 – Cinematography: 10 –  Edit: 3 – Parity: 1 – Main performance: 10 – Else performance: 3 – Score: 7 – Sound: 5 – Story: 6 – Script: 7 – Effects: 4 – Design: 7 – Costumes: 7 – Keeps interest: 3 – Lasting: 5