Bright Leaves (documentary)

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This article is about Bright Leaves (documentary). For other uses of the term Bright Leaf, please see Bright Leaf (disambiguation).

Bright Leaves is a personal documentary released in 2003 by Ross McElwee. It explores whether his family history with the Tobacco industry intersected with the novel and film.[1][2][3]


  1. Stephen Holden. FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW; Tapestry of a Family and Its Home State, New York Times, 2003-10-11, p. B16. Retrieved on 2022-08-30. “McElwee family lore has it that the movie, directed by Michael Curtiz and adapted from a novel by Foster Fitz-Simons, is the story of his great-grandfather. And it prompts Mr. McElwee to embark on an eccentric quest to document the connection. He obsessively reruns the movie and interviews a film scholar, Vlada Petric, along with Ms. Neal and the original novelist's widow.”
  2. James Ryerson. FILM; Cigarettes, Gary Cooper And Me, New York Times, 2004-08-22. Retrieved on 2022-08-30. “The film is set in motion when Mr. McElwee learns of the existence of a 1950 Hollywood melodrama called Bright Leaf, starring Gary Cooper, Lauren Bacall and Patricia Neal, about a rivalry between two tobacco growers in post-Civil War North Carolina. At the suggestion of a cousin, Mr. McElwee becomes convinced that the character played by Cooper is based on his great-grandfather, John Harvey McElwee, a North Carolina tobacco tycoon who was ruined and run out of the business by his nemesis, James Buchanan Duke (whose legacy would encompass both the American Tobacco Company and Duke University.)”
  3. FILM REVIEW; Romance of Tobacco Brought to Life, New York Times, 2004-08-25, p. E4. Retrieved on 2022-08-30. “His great-grandfather was a tobacco king who created the Bull Durham brand, then lost his fortune to a rival clan, the Dukes, who became North Carolina royalty. Through a cousin who collects vintage films and movie memorabilia, he becomes fixated on a 1950 black-and-white melodrama, Bright Leaf, about the tobacco wars of the late 19th century, starring Gary Cooper, Lauren Bacall and Patricia Neal.”