6.7/10
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Tobacco Road (1941)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama | 7 March 1941 (USA)
Hillbilly family life in 1941 rural Georgia.

Director:

Writers:

(based on the novel by), (stage play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
William Tracy ...
Dude Lester
...
Ada Lester
...
Captain Tim
...
Peabody
...
Lov
...
George Payne
Zeffie Tilbury ...
Grandma
...
Chief of Police
Spencer Charters ...
County Clerk
...
Teller
...
Auto Dealer
...
Mayor
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Storyline

Shiftless Jeeter Lester and his family of hillbilly stereotypes live in a rural backwater where their ancestors were once wealthy planters. Their slapstick existence is threatened by a bank's plans to take over the land for more profitable farming; subplots involve the affairs and marriages of son Dude and daughter Ellie May. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

ON THE SCREEN AT LAST! The Picture you've waited eight years to see...Picturized by the men who gave you "GRAPES OF WRATH" See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 March 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El camino del tabaco  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie was banned in Australia for unspecified reasons, but generally had few censorship problems. See more »

Goofs

When Dude angrily pushes Jeter out of the way from his new car, the hood is up. When he drives away, the hood is down. See more »

Quotes

Clerk: Look here, son, what do you mean to marry a woman that old? You ought marry a girl your own age.
Sister Bessie: You're trying talk him out of it and I'll start a service right here now.
Dude Lester: Dunno, Sister Bessie there, she sweet-talked me into it.
Clerk: How's that boy gonna support you?
Sister Bessie: The Lord will provide.
Clerk: I'm afraid that ain't gonna be soon, because he ain't gonna get married through this office!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to John Ford (1973) See more »

Soundtracks

Shall We Gather at the River?
(uncredited)
Written by Robert Lowry
Sung a cappella by Marjorie Rambeau and Charley Grapewin
Reprised by Charles Halton, Spencer Charters and others at the marriage bureau
Played as background music often
Sung by an offscreen chorus at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Altered State
1 June 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Tobacco Road as was written by Erskine Caldwell and dramatized on Broadway for 8 years was brought to the screen by 20th Century Fox in a considerably altered state. It was thought of probably by Darryl Zanuck as a great property for John Ford seeing what he did with The Grapes Of Wrath.

The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck is a great piece of social commentary, an immortal work whether in print or on the big or small screen. Ford kept the spirit of Steinbeck's work completely intact and got a well deserved Best Director Oscar. In this one because Caldwell's Jeeters are not quite as noble as the Joads of The Grapes Of Wrath, they're not prototype rural proletarians. The changes took a lot of the drama and commentary and left the film not too far above the Weaver Family films and Ma and Pa Kettle.

Charley Grapewin and Bessie Patterson are Mr.&Mrs. Jeeter Lester and Jeeter is a guy determined to get by doing as little as possible. The whole family has his spirit. He's married most of his children off. One of the daughters in serious trouble of being an old maid at 23 and that was Gene Tierney if you can believe that. Her character in the book and play has a cleft palate and you can understand why she's not married off. Here she's just gorgeous Gene Tierney and a crucial element is missing.

There's another daughter Pearl whom we never see, but who's married to the loutish Ward Bond. She keeps running off and Bond just doesn't get it. Here he's just rustic lout, I suspect that the 13 year old Pearl figures she can do a whole lot better. That one I'm sure the Code was breathing hot and heavy over 20th Century Fox.

There's another physically deformed character and that's Marjorie Rambeau who has in the book a nose like a pig's snout. Grapewin palms off his 16 year old son as a new husband for Rambeau to get his hands on the insurance money her old husband left her. William Tracy as the kid who's no prize figures she's experienced and eager even if she's a psalm singer which she is.

The rough house comedy that typifies many a Ford film is funny, but hardly in the spirit of what Caldwell was writing. In the end I have to say that the film is not good John Ford, though he's done worse.


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