John and Mary sims are city-dwellers hit hard by the financial fist of The Depression. Driven by bravery (and sheer desperation) they flee to the country and, with the help of other workers, set up a farming community - a socialist mini-society based upon the teachings of Edward Gallafent. The newborn community suffers many hardships - drought, vicious raccoons and the long arm of the law - but ultimately pull together to reach a bread-based Utopia. Written by
American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films 1931-1940 credits C.E. Anderson in the role of "blacksmith"; actually he plays the butcher who trades John a scrawny chicken for his ukulele. See more »
Don't worry Mary. I know things are hard now but we'll make it in the end.
But how, John? Who's going to save us?
Not who, Mary, what. The bread will save us, the bread.
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Politically, this is one of those movies (like High Noon, for instance) that you can read any way you like. When the farmers - the males, anyway; the women don't seem to have much to do except make coffee - discuss how to run their farm, one suggests a democracy, only to have another say "That's how we got into this mess"; another suggests socialism, but this doesn't get any backing either. Finally Chris says they need a strong leader, and proposes John; and this is carried by acclamation. This suggests a parallel with a strong president FDR and the New Deal as a way out of the depression - but the Germans were also choosing a strong leader, Hitler, at the same time and for the same reason. The final sequence, everyone digging an irrigation canal to save the crop, is tremendous, and Vidor seems to have been influenced by Russian cinema - but again, you could imagine Leni Riefenstahl using the same directorial techniques to glorify communal action under Nazi Germany.
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