There are some truly heartbreaking moments in John Ford’s under seen Tobacco Road. It’s a film about a family that has never known anything but poverty, but generations ago worked on some of the richest plantations in the country. Now with nothing, they still manage to live with some degree of happiness, the tonal focus of the script is concerned mostly with an upbeat if not caricaturist portrayal of their everyday life. I personally was not drawn in by the slapstick antics, but it was not enough to completely sink the film. The film’s cinematography and editing highlights both the beauty and the squalor of their existence, allowing the audience in on the warmth of their family life, as well as the hopelessness of their poverty. It’s this that sustains the moments of true emotional weight, as the family faces eviction in already troubling times. Dana Andrews, in the small but pivotal role as Capt. Tim Harmon, makes the biggest mark, allowing those moments of hope and tenderness to work. He gives a different portrait of authority, though one still plagued by a nation in economic turmoil. The film ends on an interestingly conflicted note, offering damaged pride, unprecedented kindness and the unfortunate cycle of ignorance and slovenliness.