|Directed by||John Ford|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Cinematography||Arthur C. Miller|
|Edited by||Barbara McLean|
|Music by||David Buttolph|
|Distributed by||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation|
|Box office||$1,900,000 (US) (1973)|
Tobacco Road is a 1941 film directed by John Ford and starring Charley Grapewin, Marjorie Rambeau, Gene Tierney, William Tracy, Dana Andrews and Ward Bond. It was based on the 1932 novel of the same name by Erskine Caldwell and the 1933 Broadway play that Jack Kirkland adapted from the novel.The plot was rewritten for the film by Nunnally Johnson, however.
Studios attempted to acquire the screen rights to the novel from 1933.RKO Pictures and Warner Bros. considered buying the rights, the first intending to assign Charles Laughton in the lead role, but were discouraged from doing so. In March 1940, Columbia Pictures showed interest, but was informed that Tobacco Road was on the list of banned titles. Eventually, 20th Century Fox gained the rights in August 1940, with RKO as its main competitor. It was believed that Fox won due to the success of The Grapes of Wrath (1940). They were the main preference of the copyright holders Erskine Caldwell and Jack Kirkland, who were reluctant to sell the rights unless the film "would be picturized honestly and fearlessly."
Initially, Henry Hull was sought from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to reprise the main role previously portrayed on Broadway.However, in October 1940 he was revealed to be only in consideration, along with Walter Brennan and Henry Fonda.
Much to the "immense satisfaction of the studio",John Ford was signed on as the director as early as March 1940. On production, he commented in a December 1940 interview: "We have no dirt in the picture. We've eliminated the horrible details and what we've got left is a nice dramatic story. It's a tear-jerker, with some comedy relief. What we're aiming at is to have the customers sympathize with our people and not feel disgusted." The decision was most likely a result of a November 1940 warning that "many religious folk throughout the nation may be offended by the religious aspects."
Casting was a huge problem, and it was reported that producer Darryl F. Zanuck and director Ford deliberated for weeks.Marjorie Rambeau and Gene Tierney were cast in November 1940. Most other cast members were signed on in the same month. Ford personally insisted that Charley Grapewin be cast as Jeeter, because of their previous collaboration on The Grapes of Wrath. To portray Dude, William Tracy had to diet and lose teeth. On his role, Tracy commented in a December 1940 interview: "It's a swell part. It's one you can sink your teeth in, if you have your teeth."
While in production, Tobacco Road was thought to be received as even greater than The Grapes of Wrath.Filming was initially set on location in Georgia, but to avoid any controversy, the studio decided in November 1940 that the film would be shot in the studio on closed sets. To further prevent the film from being banned before its release, there was no publicity.
Many critics compared the film of Tobacco Road to the stage version, which was still running on Broadway at the time of the film's release. Variety wrote, "The slightest attempt to clean up Jeeter and his brood dooms the effort to failure... He's better entertainment--and box office--with rough edges."
Despite the studio's concerns over the censorship, the film was only banned in Australia.Although the film received mixed reviews, it became a success at the box office, and it had grossed up to $1.9 million by 1973.
Carver Dana Andrews was an American film actor and a major Hollywood star during the 1940s. He continued acting in less prestigious roles into the 1980s. He is remembered for his roles as a police detective-lieutenant in the film noir Laura (1944) and as war veteran Fred Derry in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), the latter being the role for which he received the most critical praise.
The year 1941 in film involved some significant events, in particular the release of a film consistently rated as one of the greatest of all time, Citizen Kane.
The year 1940 in film involved some significant events, including the premieres of the Walt Disney films Pinocchio and Fantasia.
Gene Eliza Tierney was an American film and stage actress. Acclaimed for her great beauty, she became established as a leading lady. Tierney was best known for her portrayal of the title character in the film Laura (1944), and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Ellen Berent Harland in Leave Her to Heaven (1945).
Darryl Francis Zanuck was an American film producer and studio executive; he earlier contributed stories for films starting in the silent era. He played a major part in the Hollywood studio system as one of its longest survivors. He earned three Academy Awards as producer for Best Picture during his tenure, but was responsible for many more.
Tobacco Road is a 1932 novel by Erskine Caldwell about Georgia sharecroppers. It was dramatized for Broadway by Jack Kirkland in 1933, and ran for eight years. A 1941 film version, deliberately played mainly for laughs, was directed by John Ford, and the storyline was considerably altered.
Charles Ellsworth Grapewin was an American vaudeville and circus performer, a writer, and a stage and film actor. He worked in over 100 motion pictures during the silent and sound eras, most notably portraying Uncle Henry in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's The Wizard of Oz (1939), "Grandpa" William James Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Jeeter Lester in Tobacco Road (1941), and California Joe in They Died With Their Boots On (1941).
Tom Tyler was an American actor known for his leading roles in low-budget Western films in the silent and sound eras, and for his portrayal of superhero Captain Marvel in the 1941 serial film The Adventures of Captain Marvel. Tyler also played Kharis in 1940's The Mummy's Hand, a popular Universal Studios monster film.
Darryl Gerard Hickman is an American film and television actor, voice artist, screenwriter, television executive, and acting coach. He started his career as a child actor in Hollywood film and as an adult appeared in numerous TV serials.
Marjorie Burnet Rambeau was an American film and stage actress. She began her stage career at age 12, and appeared in several silent films before debuting in her first sound film, Her Man (1930). She was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her roles in Primrose Path (1940) and Torch Song (1953), and received the 1955 National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress for her roles in A Man Called Peter and The View from Pompey's Head.
Nunnally Hunter Johnson was an American screenwriter, film director, producer, and playwright. As a filmmaker, he wrote the screenplays to more than fifty films in a career that spanned from 1927 to 1967. He also produced more than half of the films he wrote scripts for, and directed eight of those movies. In 1940 he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Grapes of Wrath, and in 1956 he was nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film for The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Some of his other notable films include Tobacco Road (1941), The Moon Is Down (1943), Casanova Brown (1944), The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Woman in the Window (1944), The Mudlark (1950), The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951), My Cousin Rachel (1952), The Three Faces of Eve (1957), Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962), and The Dirty Dozen (1967). As a playwright he wrote the books for several Broadway musicals, including the musical revue Shoot the Works (1931), Arthur Schwartz's Park Avenue (1946), Bob Merrill's Henry, Sweet Henry (1967), and Jule Styne's Darling of the Day (1968). He also wrote the 1943 Broadway play The World's Full of Girls.
Broadway is a 1942 crime drama musical film directed by William A. Seiter and starring George Raft as himself and Pat O'Brien as a detective. The supporting cast features Janet Blair and Broderick Crawford.
The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 American drama film directed by John Ford. It was based on John Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by Nunnally Johnson and the executive producer was Darryl F. Zanuck.
William Tracy was an American character actor.
The 13th Academy Awards honored American film achievements in 1940. This was the first year that sealed envelopes were used to keep secret the names of the winners which led to the famous phrase: "May I have the envelope, please?" The accounting firm of Price Waterhouse was hired to count the ballots, after the fiasco of leaked voting results in 1939 by the Los Angeles Times.
John Grant Mitchell Jr. was an American stage actor on Broadway and mainly a character actor on film. He appeared on Broadway from 1902 to 1939 and appeared in more than 125 films between 1930 and 1948.
Morgan Conway was an American actor, best known for his portrayals of Dick Tracy.
Tobacco Road is a play by Jack Kirkland first performed in 1933, based on the 1932 novel of the same name by Erskine Caldwell. The play ran on Broadway for a total of 3,182 performances, surpassing Abie's Irish Rose to become the longest-running play in history at the time. As of 2018, it was still the 19th longest-running Broadway show in history, as well as being the second-longest running non-musical ever on Broadway.
James Edward Barton was an American vaudevillian, stage performer, and a character actor in films and on television.
Adrian Michael Morris was an American actor of stage and film, and a younger brother of Chester Morris.