As a devoted fan of Little House on the Prairie, I’m pretty much a sucker for any sort of family melodrama that takes place in frontier times. Love’s Everlasting Courage doesn’t have the wit, bite, or grandiosity of a Michael Landon production, but it does costar Half Pint’s real life ex-husband (Bruce Boxleitner) and there’s no shortage of evil lenders, drought, tears, or scarlet fever. Though rather milquetoast, this little movie offers up wholesome entertainment that’s safe to share with the whole family.
Like many couples trying to build a life in young America, Clark (Wes Brown) and Ellen (Julie Mond) are struggling against an inhospitable climate and ever-mounting debt. If it would just rain, then Clark would be able to produce crops, which would in turn produce income, which could then go toward their mortgage and get the nefarious town banker off their back. He could stop making snide comments whenever he saw them in town like, “I sure don’t know how you could ever even hope to make this next payment”, and Clark and Ellen could fully enjoy the happiness they’ve found together. Though they’re parents to a young daughter (roughly 8 years old), the two seem as starry-eyed and in love as newlyweds. Each just wants to take care of the other and protect the life they’ve created together.
In opposition to his belief that a man should provide for his family, Clark permits Ellen to work as a seamstress in town. Ellen is more than happy to contribute and enjoys her new job. Just when it seems that they may have found a solution to their financial woes, Ellen’s health begins to suffer. She’s tired all the time, and soon there’s a little cough-cough, which instantly signals to audiences that Ellen is toast. Indeed, our heroine has scarlet fever and is not long for this world.
Following Ellen’s death, Wes’s parents (played by Bruce Boxleitner and Cheryl Ladd) come to assist with the farm and care for his daughter. Through the support of friends and family, Wes learns that moving forward with the life he and Ellen planned is the best way to honor her. There’s nothing especially new or compelling here, but it’s a sweet story that makes for benign entertainment, especially if you’re looking for something that’s appropriate for all audiences.