In a Carolina mountain community, young Rob Warwick (Forrest James), unlike most of his neighbors, learns to read and write, which opens a world of knowledge for him. Rob confides his plan to attend school to his close friend Barbara (Helen Munday), then leaves the mountain for the local settlement. There, Rob sells his horse to pay for school but enrolls Barbara instead of himself. But when he returns to the mountain, Rob learns his mother has died, and his father plans to marry Barbara.
Stark Love (1927) is a feature film directed by Karl Brown and released by Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation, now known as Paramount Pictures. The film is a maverick production in both design and concept, is a beautifully photographed mix of lyrical anthropology and action melodrama from director Karl Brown. â€œMan is absolute ruler. Woman is working slave.â€� Such are the rigid attitudes framing this tale of a country boyâ€™s beliefs about chivalry that lead him to try to escape a brutal father with the girl he loves. Stark Love, was cast almost exclusively with amateur actors and filmed entirely in the Great Smoky Mountains, near Robbinsville, North Carolina.
In 2009, it was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being â€œculturally, historically or aestheticallyâ€� significant and will be preserved for all time.
An extensive account of the movies making, and its aftermath, can be found in the book Hillbillyland: What the Movies Did to the Mountains and What the Mountains Did to the Movies by J. W. Williamson.
Forrest James is the father of Fob James, 48th governor of Alabama.
"Amidst the primitive mountain culture of the Carolina hills lives young Rob Warwick. He, unlike his fellowmen, has learned to read and entertains ambitions of another life. He learns of another world, where woman is looked up to by man, who builds a home for her and protects and supports her, as opposed to the position of drudge that she maintains in his society. Fired with ambition to attend school, he tells young Barbara, whose parents are his nearest neighbors, of his plans. When the itinerant minister arrives to perform the yearly marriage and burial services, Rob goes with him to the settlement, sells his horse, pays the tuition for schooling, but enrolls Barbara in his place. He returns to find that his mother has died and that his father, left with a brood to care for, has selected Barbara to be his wife. Rob pleads with his father but is beaten; the girl is aroused to threaten Warwick with an ax, and she escapes with the boy, floating down the swollen stream to the settlement and freedom".
"Man is absolute ruler. Woman is working slave.” Such are the rigid attitudes framing this tale of a country boy’s beliefs about chivalry that lead him to try to escape a brutal father with the girl he loves