6.3/10
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22 user 4 critic

Tortilla Flat (1942)

Danny, a poor northern Californian Mexican-American, inherits two houses from his grandfather and is quickly taken advantage of by his vagabond friends.

Director:

Victor Fleming

Writers:

John Lee Mahin (screen play), Benjamin Glazer (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Spencer Tracy ... Pilon
Hedy Lamarr ... Dolores Sweets Ramirez
John Garfield ... Danny
Frank Morgan ... The Pirate
Akim Tamiroff ... Pablo
Sheldon Leonard ... Tito Ralph
John Qualen ... Jose Maria Corcoran
Donald Meek ... Paul D. Cummings
Connie Gilchrist ... Mrs. Torrelli
Allen Jenkins ... Portagee Joe
Henry O'Neill ... Father Ramon
Mercedes Ruffino Mercedes Ruffino ... Mrs. Marellis
Nina Campana Nina Campana ... Señora Teresina
Arthur Space ... Mr. Brown
Betty Wells ... Cesca
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Storyline

Danny inherits two houses so Pilon and his lazy, impoverished friends move in. One of them, Pirate, is saving money which Pilon hopes to steal till he learns it is being saved to buy a gold candlestick for St. Francis. When one of the houses burns down and Danny is hurt fighting, Pilon makes an effort to make life better for his friend. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They're Strong For Wine, Women and Song. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

28 August 1942 (Portugal) See more »

Also Known As:

La vida es así See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Turner Library Print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was first telecast in New Haven CT Monday 17 December 1956 on WNHC (Channel 8), followed by Hartford CT 29 March 1957 on WHCT (Channel 18), by Los Angeles 26 April 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), by Cincinnati 27 April 1957 on WXIX (Channel 19) (Newport KY), by Minneapolis 10 May 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9), by Albuquerque 15 May 1957 on KOAT (Channel 7), by Tucson 22 May 1957 on KVOA (Channel 4), by Philadelphia 12 July 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), by New York City 3 August 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2), by Altoona PA 9 August 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10) and by Chicago 24 August 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2); in San Francisco it first aired 7 January 1959 on KGO (Channel 7) and in Seattle 10 April 1959 on KING (Channel 5). See more »

Goofs

In the film's initial scene where two men rest under a tree, the second man puts on his boots. He begins with the right boot but when the camera cuts to a medium shot, he is putting on the left boot. See more »

Quotes

Torrelli: [as Pilon is daning with his wife] You're too close!
Pilon: It's a small room, Torelli!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: John Garfield (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Cielito Lindo
(uncredited)
Written by Quirino Mendoza
See more »

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User Reviews

 
As Shiftless A Group As You Could Find
28 January 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

I'm not sure of the appeal of this story either in the book or in the film. The group of paisanos that John Steinbeck created is as shiftless and lazy a group as you will find anywhere. Their leader Pilon played by Spencer Tracy works this whole bunch as ruthlessly as Abbott regularly did to Costello. And the Costello of this story is of all people John Garfield.

Garfield inherits a couple of houses courtesy of his late grandfather and Tracy and his friends move in to free load. Garfield also has his eye on Hedy Lamarr who works in a cannery and for a husband, much as she likes Garfield, doesn't want a shiftless loafer for a life partner. Garfield has to mend his ways before he's got any chance with her. Of course the prospect of kanoodling with Hedy Lamarr is enough to make any man straighten out, even get a haircut.

Tracy has no intention of changing his ways. He even tries to bilk simple hermit Frank Morgan out of his savings. Morgan, who's called the Pirate in this film, got an Oscar nomination for Supporting Actor and he's the best one in the film. Close to him is the always dependable Henry O'Neill as the local parish priest.

Tortilla Flat is about as opposite a story from The Grapes of Wrath that it's hard to believe they come from the same author, John Steinbeck. The Grapes of Wrath is about hard working Anglo farmers from Oklahoma who've lost everything and just want the chance to earn a living from the soil again. Tortilla Flat's paisanos have an attitude about work that is on the level of Maynard G. Krebs. They're a harbinger of hippies to come.

Tracy in his portrayal of Pilon dusts off some of the accent he used in Captains Courageous. But as good an actor as he is, he just can't make this viewer have any degree of empathy for his character. About as opposite as you can get from the simple hardworking Manuel Fidelio of Captains Courageous.

A lot of Latinos today find this film offensive and looking at it, I can't really blame them.


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