Tobacco Road (1941)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  7 March 1941 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 1,405 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 9 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 »



(based on the novel by), (stage play), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marjorie Rambeau ...
William Tracy ...
Dude Lester
Elizabeth Patterson ...
Ada Lester
Captain Tim
George Payne
Zeffie Tilbury ...
Russell Simpson ...
Chief of Police
Spencer Charters ...
County Clerk
Irving Bacon ...
Harry Tyler ...
Auto Dealer


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Produced by the men who gave you..."GRAPES OF WRATH" See more »


Comedy | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

7 March 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El camino del tabaco  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


When the new car is tipped over, after being driven on dirt roads and through mud, the underside is spotless. See more »


Lov Bensey: I ain't tradin' turnips with nobody.
See more »


Referenced in I Love Lucy: Men Are Messy (1951) See more »


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

Disappointing film version of Broadway success...
1 June 2012 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

It's hard to even understand why TOBACCO ROAD was such a long-running success on the Broadway stage. Fox has taken the play, cut all of the more sizzling elements that made it intriguing, and reduced it to a tale of dirt poor farm folk too shiftless to make a living off the land with the accent on comedy rather than focusing on a few of the more poignant moments.

It's certainly a disappointment to find Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney totally wasted in small roles early in their careers at Fox. Tierney, especially, has little to do but say a few lines and look as unscrubbed as possible. It's really an embarrassment to watch her in this role.

Overacting is in abundance, particularly from William Tracy as the imbecilic son, Dude, who is crazy from start to finish (with Ward Bond delivering him a well-deserved punch at the finale). Marjorie Rambeau as a gospel-singing fanatic overacts too and even Ward Bond is irritating at times.

But in the central role of the shiftless farmer who spends the whole story trying to devise ways to save his land with a $100 down payment, Charlie Grapewin gives a fine, nuanced performance, slipping easily from comedy to drama without a strain. Elizabeth Patterson tries to give some dignity to the role of his equally downtrodden wife.

John Ford's uninspired direction is largely responsible for the lackluster overall impact of the film, based on the play taken from an earthy Erskine Caldwell novel. Whatever elements made the play so enormously successful have been eliminated in Nunnally Johnson's screenplay.

Summing up: A huge disappointment on many levels although it contains some striking B&W photography.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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