6.6/10
1,804
35 user 11 critic

Tobacco Road (1941)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama | 7 March 1941 (USA)
Hillbilly family life in 1941 rural Georgia.

Director:

John Ford

Writers:

Erskine Caldwell (based on the novel by), Jack Kirkland (stage play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charley Grapewin ... Jeeter
Marjorie Rambeau ... Sister Bessie
Gene Tierney ... Ellie May
William Tracy ... Dude Lester
Elizabeth Patterson ... Ada Lester
Dana Andrews ... Captain Tim
Slim Summerville ... Peabody
Ward Bond ... Lov
Grant Mitchell ... 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:

At Last... It's on the Screen! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 March 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El camino del tabaco See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,900,000, 31 December 1973
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

The movie was banned in Australia for unspecified reasons, but generally had few censorship problems. See more »

Goofs

When the new car is tipped over, after being driven on dirt roads and through mud, the underside is spotless. See more »

Quotes

Clerk: Look here, son, what do you mean to marry a woman that old? You ought marry a girl your own age.
Sister Bessie: You're trying talk him out of it and I'll start a service right here now.
Dude Lester: Dunno, Sister Bessie there, she sweet-talked me into it.
Clerk: How's that boy gonna support you?
Sister Bessie: The Lord will provide.
Clerk: I'm afraid that ain't gonna be soon, because he ain't gonna get married through this office!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in I Love Lucy: Men Are Messy (1951) See more »

Soundtracks

Bringing in the Sheaves
(uncredited)
Music by George A. Minor
Lyrics by Knowles Shaw
Sung a cappella by Marjorie Rambeau, William Tracy, Charles Halton and others at the marriage bureau
Played as background music often
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Beverly Hillbillies as directed by America's greatest poet
28 August 2003 | by zetesSee all my reviews

The back side of the same coin whose front is The Grapes of Wrath. It's a Depression piece about a family of Georgia dirt farmers who are about to be driven from their home. Here John Ford stays much in his comedy mode, so most of his detractors will certainly want to stay clear of it. And even I admit that at times it can be obnoxious. Dude Lester, the youngest of the 16 (or 17) children Jeeter and Ada Lester had, and one of only two who still live on the farm, is particularly hard to bear. One wonders whether Jeeter and Ada had the same parents. Dude runs around screeching and imitating his car's horn. He can be funny, but he's certainly the most grating element of the movie. Luckily, he gets his comeuppance, which makes it well worth putting up with him. The other child, a 23 year old girl, Ellie May (Gene Tierney, in a very early appearance and gorgeous as the earthy farmer's daughter – Ford really fetishizes her, to tell you the truth), is in love with her brother-in-law, Lov (Ward Bond, whom I didn't even recognize). He chose Ellie May's younger sister because he wanted a young wife – 23 is too old and he feared he'd be the laughing stock of Tobacco Road. Most of the movie focuses on Jeeter (Charley Grapewin), who is trying to remain on his land. It's quite amazing. These characters are so stereotypical, and they can certainly be construed as highly offensive. The Beverly Hillbillies probably contains less offensive material about hicks. With any other artist at the helm, it would be completely reprehensible. Yet, in Ford's hands, Jeeter Lester exhibits as much humanity as Tom Joad. We laugh at his ridiculousness, but we care for him very much. His wife (played by Marjorie Rambeau) doesn't get a lot of screen time, but when she does, she reminds me much of Jane Darwell's heartbreaking role as Ma Joad. After Dude tears into his parents about being at death's door, the two have a solemn conversation about their numerous, departed children. `I thought at least one of them would write,' Ada sighs. The film also boasts the greatest number of occurrences of Ford's favorite hymn, `Shall We Gather at the River'. It even serves as the base of the film's score. If the wackiness doesn't put the detractors off, that song very well might! I love it myself. As funny as Tobacco Road is, and it is quite funny almost all of the time, it contains dozens of moments of the greatest American poetry. 9/10.


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