God's Little Acre completely bypasses its exotic origins in Erskine Caldwell's sensational novel. Instead, Mann and scriptwriter Philip Yordan transform their subject matter to create out of it a study of two 'over-reachers' struggling for control over the destiny of their family. Accordingly, the film is best seen in the light of the treatment of the family in Man of the West and The Fall of the Roman Empire. Ryan, the family's monomaniacal patriarch, has successfully harnessed the energy of his constantly squabbling flock for 15 years into an impossible search for his grandfather's mythic hidden gold. Similarly, Ray's son-in-law is driven by the dream of reinvigorating the homestead (and the valley) by turning the mill-power back on. While the film's resolution - peace and harmony - is impossible to take, the previous 100-odd minutes offer the most concise account of Mann's conception of the power and tensions that lie at the root of family life.