Review: ‘Tobacco Road’

Tobacco Road as a motion picture falls far short of its promises. The sensational pulling elements of the 1933 play by Jack Kirkland from Erskine Caldwell's saga - the dialog and the low-life manners of its people - have been deleted, altered or attenuated to the point of dullness. What remains of the story is a back-in-the-hills comedy of shiftless folk.

Tobacco Road as a motion picture falls far short of its promises. The sensational pulling elements of the 1933 play by Jack Kirkland from Erskine Caldwell’s saga – the dialog and the low-life manners of its people – have been deleted, altered or attenuated to the point of dullness. What remains of the story is a back-in-the-hills comedy of shiftless folk.

Tobacco Road emerges with a trite comedy theme about the dubious efforts, chiefly larcenous, by which old Jeeter hopes, through act of Providence or dishonest opportunity, to raise $100 for the annual rent of the old farm.

For all of its dehydration Tobacco Road is told with a canny camera. Ford is more intent on story telling than in his recent productions.

Chief load of the acting falls on Charley Grapewin, whose Jeeter is a fine characterization within the revised limitations. He plays the old fellow for comedy and sympathy, revealing also a lazy shrewdness. Elizabeth Patterson is Ma Ada, and brings out the sullen hopelessness of the role.

Tobacco Road

Production

20th Century-Fox. Director John Ford; Producer Darryl F. Zanuck; Screenplay Nunnally Johnson; Camera Arthur Miller; Editor Barbara McLean; Music David Buttolph; Art Director Richard Day, James Basevi

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1941. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Charley Grapewin Marjorie Rambeau Gene Tierney William Tracy Elizabeth Patterson Dana Andrews
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