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Tobacco Road (1941)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  7 March 1941 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 1,261 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 »

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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Marjorie Rambeau ...
Sister Bessie
...
William Tracy ...
Dude Lester
Elizabeth Patterson ...
Ada Lester
...
Captain Tim
...
Peabody
...
Lov
...
George Payne
Zeffie Tilbury ...
Grandma
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:

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 Broadway play by Jack Kirkland based on Erskine Caldwell's novel opened 4 December 1933 and set a record for longevity on Broadway when it closed on 31 May 1941 after 3,281 performances. It was revived on Broadway twice in the next two years, bring its total running time there to nearly ten years (1933-1943). Opened at the Theatre Masque and then moved to the 48th Street Theatre followed by the Forrest Theatre for the original production. The play was revived in 1942, 1943 and 1950. The original Broadway production is the seventeenth longest running show ever as of February, 2013. 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

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

Connections

Referenced in Grindhouse (2007) 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

Poverty Personified
12 August 2008 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Dirt poor, elderly Georgia farmer Jeeter Lester (Charley Grapewin) schemes to get some money so that he and his wife Ada (Elizabeth Patterson) can remain at their dilapidated frame house on Tobacco Road, in this Great Depression era story, part comedy, part drama.

As country hicks, most of the characters are rather too stereotyped to be realistic. The film's script is very talky, not surprising since the story originated as a stage play. The film's plot varies wildly from slapstick comedy to morose drama. And therein lies the main problem.

Rural poverty in the South during the 1930s was no laughing matter. It was an intensely painful and prolonged episode of human misery. I can understand how viewers in those days needed some comic relief, but not in a story about poverty. The hyper-antics of young Dude, the film's comic relief, are extremely annoying. Those scenes dilute the seriousness of the film's underlying theme. And the subplot wherein Dude and Sister Bessie go off together seems like plot filler.

Charley Grapewin gives a fine performance in the lead role. But Marjorie Rambeau as Sister Bessie, and William Tracy as Dude overact. Part of this overacting could have been the result of poor film direction.

The film's background music runs the gamut from frivolous and nondescript in the comedic scenes to old-time gospel songs like "Shall We Gather At The River" during more serious moments.

Given the era in which the film was made, "Tobacco Road" is okay, if you give it some slack. But the story would have been better without the slapstick comedy. In any event, it's a good movie to watch when you're depressed and think things can't get much worse.


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