Our Daily Bread

  • 1934
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

This was part of an intended film trilogy by Vidor, and a film that he always considered equal in quality to his majestic silent classic THE CROWD. It is not, but it has a certain poignancy, quaintness, and simplicity that make it a strong document of hard times in the early 1930s. During the depth of the Depression, Morley and Keene, down and out like...read more

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This was part of an intended film trilogy by Vidor, and a film that he always considered equal in quality to his majestic silent classic THE CROWD. It is not, but it has a certain poignancy, quaintness, and simplicity that make it a strong document of hard times in the early 1930s. During

the depth of the Depression, Morley and Keene, down and out like most Americans, inherit a dilapidated farm and seek to save it and themselves by inviting homeless but hard-working people to join them in a farm collective, or loosely organized commune. While everyone slaves away at tilling the

soil and eking out a few meals a day, Keene grows restless and depressed. Then Pepper--a slovenly, slatternly city girl--arrives and quickly seduces Keene, persuading him to run away with her. He deserts Morley and his fellow workers and heads for the city in the middle of a drought, the wheat

withering under a blazing sun. As he makes his way with Pepper, Keene suddenly discovers a hidden stream and his thoughts go back to the needy people of his farm. He cannot desert them after all and races back to tell one and all that water is at hand and, if they all work like demons, they might

be able to divert the stream and irrigate the crops, saving their future. Men, women, and children pour forth with tools and form a chain of workers who run ahead of the diverted stream, furiously digging a ditch and shoring it up with boulders, chopping down trees and bushes, anything in the

water's path, until it flows freely downhill into the valley, where the farm and thirsty crops await. The jubilant farm workers (some so excited that they cartwheel across the screen) are saved and so, too, is Morley's marriage. The ever-faithful wife is reunited with her errant husband and the

world is once more bearable, if not overly hopeful. The film was shot on a shoestring after Irving Thalberg, production chief at MGM, told Vidor that he wanted no part of a film dealing with farm communes (or any kind of picture offering a strong socialist message). Vidor nevertheless went ahead

and produced a film of sincerity and powerful emotions, even though his actors, except for Morley and a few others, were amateurs. One report stated that Vidor was compelled to use Pepper--a thoroughly inept actress--at the insistence of one of Vidor's financial backers. She nevertheless is

surprisingly convincing as the city tramp and has become a minor cult-film figure. Most of the film reflects Vidor's great vitality, especially the spectacular irrigation scenes at the end, some of the most dramatic and dynamic moments ever put on celluloid. Yet much of the film lacks the overall

polish and professionalism that a first-rate budget would have given it. It is obvious that Vidor was inspired by the Soviet film THE EARTH THIRSTS (1930) by Yuli Rayzman; it is also true that the scenes showing crowds of Chinese farmers massing to ward off the locusts in THE GOOD EARTH (1936)

were inspired by this Vidor production.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This was part of an intended film trilogy by Vidor, and a film that he always considered equal in quality to his majestic silent classic THE CROWD. It is not, but it has a certain poignancy, quaintness, and simplicity that make it a strong document of hard… (more)

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