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So Big
1953 Jump to Synopsis and Details
So Big #1
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So Big #2
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Contributed by Daniel López
So Big #9
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So Big #4
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So Big #5
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So Big #6
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So Big #8
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So Big #7
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So Big #3
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After the death of her father and the loss of his fortune, Selina takes a job teaching school in the Dutch community of New Holland. She stays with the Pool's and teaches young Roelf piano, and he has a crush on her, but it is Pervus she marries. Dirk is the only child they have and after a few years Pervus dies. With a young child and only the farm, Selina begins her quest to grow high quality vegetables. She wants more for Dirk and guides his life until he graduates from college as an Architect. As her vegetable label prospers, she sees Paula control Dirk's life as he moves away from creating and into sales, which is not where he wants to go. Written by Tony Fontana

From the AFI Catalog of Feature Films

In the late 1890's, Selina Peake, a student at a posh boarding school, is informed of the death of her wealthy father, who has left her penniless as a result of a botched business deal. Since the proud Selina refuses all offers of charity, August Hemple, the kindly father of Selina's best friend, Julie, obtains a teaching position for Selina in New Holland, a tiny Dutch farming community outside Chicago which has remained virtually Poster unchanged for seventy-five years.

In New Holland, Selina takes a room in the home of Klaas Pool, a crude farmer who scoffs at Selina's idealism and eye for beauty, and his overworked and miserable wife Maartje. Selina finds a kindred soul in Klaas and Maartje's son Roelf, a bright, but troubled adolescent who is unable to attend school because he must work on the farm. After discovering that Roelf has a talent for music, Selina gives him nightly piano lessons and encourages his artistic leanings, gradually leading him away from juvenile delinquency.

At a charity auction, Selina catches the eye of the town's most eligible bachelor, Pervus DeJong, and later accepts his proposal of marriage. Roelf is devastated to learn that Selina, who represents to him the beauty of the world outside his hated hometown, is to marry a lowly truck farmer. However, Selina consoles him by explaining that she needs both "emeralds" and "wheat" in her life, emeralds being those people, like Roelf, who appreciate and create beauty, and wheat, those who work the land, providing the necessities of life.

Selina settles into the laborious routine of a farmer's wife and gives birth to a son Dirk, who, as he grows, earns the nickname "So Big." Dirk soon displays signs of being an emerald in the rough, and although Pervus, who has never fully understood his wife, is mildly disapproving, Selina encourages her son's nascent artistic talent. Maartje dies and, shortly after, Klaas makes plans to wed the simpering Widow Paarlenberg. The grieving Roelf decides to leave New Holland forever and tearfully bids Selina goodbye.

When Dirk is eight years old, Pervus dies from the strain of his hard work, and Selina, refusing offers of help from her neighbors, labors to keep the farm going on her own. Much to the shock of the denizens of conservative New Holland, Selina and Dirk travel unescorted to the Chicago Haymarket to sell their produce, but no one will buy from a woman.

When all seems lost, Selina runs into her old friend Julie, now a divorced mother of two, and August, who offers to invest in Selina's proposal to grow exotic vegetables. Selina's "DeJong" asparagus is a huge success and, ten years later, she proudly sends Dirk off to college to study architecture.

After college, Dirk begins work as a draughtsman in an architectural firm and maintains his involvement with his childhood sweetheart, Julie's spoiled daughter Paula. Paula, a manipulative social climber, pushes Dirk to earn more money and later convinces him to forgo his dream of becoming an architect in order to attain more immediate financial success. Dirk accepts a job in sales and promotion arranged for him by Paula, greatly disappointing Selina, who demonstrates her dismay by no longer referring to him as "So Big."

Later, Dirk falls in love with the talented artist, Dallas O'Mara, who cares nothing for money and social status, and proposes marriage. Although she is fond of him, Dallas refuses, declaring that she could never marry a man whose hands are unscarred by real work.

Roelf, now a renowned composer, has a triumphant return to Chicago, where he visits Dallas, an old friend from Paris. Accompanied by Dirk, Roelf takes Dallas to his reunion with Selina, and the two women, very much alike, become friends. After Roelf and Dallas leave, Dirk, fearing that he has lost both of the women he loves, expresses his dismay at how his life has turned out. However, Selina takes him in her arms and, calling him "So Big," reminds him that it is never too late to pursue his dream of creating beauty.


Jane Wyman as Selina DeJong

Sterling Hayden as Pervis DeJong

Nancy Olson as Dallas O'Mara

Steve Forrest as Dirk DeJong

Elisabeth Fraser as Julie Hempel

Martha Hyer as Paula Hempel

Walter Coy as Roelf Pool

Richard Beymer as Roelf, age 12-16

Tommy Rettig as Dirk, age 8

Roland Winters as Klaas Pool

Jacques Aubuchon as August Hempel

Ruth Swanson as Maartje Pool

Dorothy Christy as Widow Paarlenberg

Oliver Blake as Adam Ooms

Lillian Kemble-Cooper as Miss Fister

Richard Alexander as Bidder

Marjorie Bennett as Housekeeper

Paul Brinegar as Farmer

Kerry Donnelly as Paul, Age 8

Douglas Evans as Mr. Hollis

Frank Ferguson as Draftsman

Jean Garvin as Girl

Dorothy Granger as Lady

Carol Grel as Girl

Jill Janssen as Jozina Pool

Kenner G. Kemp as Hempel's Chauffeur

Evan Loew as Bit Part

John Maxwell as Reverend Decker

David McMahon as Cop

Vera Miles as Girl

Noralee Norman as Geertje Pool

Bud Osborne as Wagon Driver

Frances Osborne as Girl

Ken Osmond as Eugene, Age 9

Jon Provost as Pervis, as a Boy

Grandon Rhodes as Bainbridge

Elizabeth Russell as Lady

Lotte Stein as Meena

Phil Tead as Buyer in Open Marketplace


Directed by
Robert Wise

Writing credits
Edna Ferber - novel
John Twist - screenwriter

Produced by
Henry Blanke - producer

Original Music by
Max Steiner

Cinematography by
Ellsworth Fredericks

Film Editing by
Thomas Reilly

Art Direction by
John Beckman

Set Decoration by
George James Hopkins

Costume Design by
Milo Anderson
Howard Shoup

Makeup Department
Gordon Bau - makeup artist

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Russell Saunders - assistant director

Sound Department
Oliver S. Garretson - sound

Music Department
Murray Cutter - orchestrator

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