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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A rarely televised classic that should be on VHS or DVD!
I really enjoyed reading Erskine Caldwell's TOBACCO ROAD, and I was certainly glad when American Movie Classics finally offered the rarely televised film "Tobacco Road" for several months. I don't understand why this classic by famed director John Ford has never been available on VHS or DVD.
The film is based on the long-running Broadway stage production of "Tobacco Road" which was based on Caldwell's book, but still the essence of the book is mostly there, in my opinion. (I've read that Erskine Caldwell liked the stage production but not the film version of his famous novel, however.)
With perhaps a bit more satire, but less bawdiness and tragedy than the book, the film depicts the plight of the dirt-poor Lester family around the time of the Great Depression. Jeeter Lester's father and grandfather before him had prospered on the once rich Georgia farmland, but the land became fallow, leaving the family to scrape for food (like raw turnips) and with little hope of escaping "the poor farm."
Despite the appearances of Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, and Ward Bond, Charles Grapewin (as Jeeter Lester) is the star of "Tobacco Road." As many times as I've enjoyed watching "Tobacco Road," I'd still like to see a remake, even a televised mini-series, that more closely follows the original storyline and presents the characters as they truly are: grotesque, risque, and pathetic.
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