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Tobacco Road (1941)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  7 March 1941 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 1,248 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 8 critic

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 ... See full summary »

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Title: Tobacco Road (1941)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Marjorie Rambeau ...
Sister Bessie Rice
...
William Tracy ...
Dude Lester
Elizabeth Patterson ...
Ada Lester
...
Capt. Tim Harmon
...
Henry Peabody
...
Lov Bensey
...
George Payne
Zeffie Tilbury ...
Grandma Lester
Russell Simpson ...
Chief of Police
Spencer Charters ...
County Clerk
Irving Bacon ...
Teller
Harry Tyler ...
Auto Dealer
Charles Halton ...
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:

La route au tabac  »

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 early-1941 Ford Super De Luxe Convertible Club Coupe, driven by Harvey Parry, survived its ordeal. During filming it had been crashed into a 100-year-old sycamore tree, then backed out of the debris and driven fast to jump over a 20-foot stream (with the aid of a ramp), and thereafter smashed through several fences, sideswiped a two-ton truck (forcing the truck off the road), rammed through a tool shed (cut from final release), jumped a curb, splintered a park bench, rammed a station wagon, ran into two other trees and skidded until finally overturning. Following this, the car was set right by the crew and driven back to the studio by Parry. A studio employee, Arthur Webb, purchased the badly-damaged convertible from 20th Century-Fox and, with his brother Don, commenced to repair it with hundreds of hours of personal labor and $125 in new parts from a Beverly Hills dealership. See more »

Goofs

The morning following a torrential rain storm, dirt roads are absolutely dry. See more »

Quotes

Jeeter Lester: Why, Ada here never... never spoke a word to me for the first ten years we was married. Heh! Them was the happiest ten years of my life.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Brighten the Corner Where You Are
Music by Charles Gabriel
Lyrics by Ina Duley Ogden
Sung a cappella by Marjorie Rambeau
Reprised by her and William Tracy
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Beverly Hillbillies as directed by America's greatest poet
28 August 2003 | by (Saint Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

The back side of the same coin whose front is The Grapes of Wrath. It's a Depression piece about a family of Georgia dirt farmers who are about to be driven from their home. Here John Ford stays much in his comedy mode, so most of his detractors will certainly want to stay clear of it. And even I admit that at times it can be obnoxious. Dude Lester, the youngest of the 16 (or 17) children Jeeter and Ada Lester had, and one of only two who still live on the farm, is particularly hard to bear. One wonders whether Jeeter and Ada had the same parents. Dude runs around screeching and imitating his car's horn. He can be funny, but he's certainly the most grating element of the movie. Luckily, he gets his comeuppance, which makes it well worth putting up with him. The other child, a 23 year old girl, Ellie May (Gene Tierney, in a very early appearance and gorgeous as the earthy farmer's daughter – Ford really fetishizes her, to tell you the truth), is in love with her brother-in-law, Lov (Ward Bond, whom I didn't even recognize). He chose Ellie May's younger sister because he wanted a young wife – 23 is too old and he feared he'd be the laughing stock of Tobacco Road. Most of the movie focuses on Jeeter (Charley Grapewin), who is trying to remain on his land. It's quite amazing. These characters are so stereotypical, and they can certainly be construed as highly offensive. The Beverly Hillbillies probably contains less offensive material about hicks. With any other artist at the helm, it would be completely reprehensible. Yet, in Ford's hands, Jeeter Lester exhibits as much humanity as Tom Joad. We laugh at his ridiculousness, but we care for him very much. His wife (played by Marjorie Rambeau) doesn't get a lot of screen time, but when she does, she reminds me much of Jane Darwell's heartbreaking role as Ma Joad. After Dude tears into his parents about being at death's door, the two have a solemn conversation about their numerous, departed children. `I thought at least one of them would write,' Ada sighs. The film also boasts the greatest number of occurrences of Ford's favorite hymn, `Shall We Gather at the River'. It even serves as the base of the film's score. If the wackiness doesn't put the detractors off, that song very well might! I love it myself. As funny as Tobacco Road is, and it is quite funny almost all of the time, it contains dozens of moments of the greatest American poetry. 9/10.


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