Tobacco Road (Ford, 1941)


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.



8 responses to “Tobacco Road (Ford, 1941)

  1. I have not seen nor do I know much about this movie. But based on my love of Ford and these gorgeous pictures you’ve put up, I really want to see it.

    Damn, I need to figure out screen-cap technology (not to mention DVD-ripping) for my blog…

  2. It’s worth checking out. Do you have a DVD drive on your computer ? Or else, some other way to get your movies on there, well all you have to do is download the free media player, VLC MEDIA PLAYER, and you can take screencaps. It’s very easy.

  3. I saw this lovely film when it was first released and even as a young boy I loved it. Erskine Caldwell’s book made a big impression on me and I couldn’t wait to see the film. Now, all these years later, I would love to watch the film again. Unfortunately, I have for years now been looking in vain for its release on DVD. Should it ever be released, I would buy it in a minute for fear that it might disappear again.

  4. I am a fan of TMC rhis ia where i became a ture classic lover. I have watch houseofmirthandmovives. I truly cannot understand why this wonderful movie is not played today. We are in a time when our money has shift. So, why in the hell we donot show movies of hard times. Why? because! that’s the word > we are scare of upsetting what is already in man world of hell. Please play tobacco Road for ALL AMERICAN THIS IS OUR REALITY.

  5. I don’t know why they don’t, perhaps they are adopting the 1930s mentality that in times of recession and difficulty, all people want is to escape. Perhaps.

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