EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|OUR DAILY BREAD (aka: THE MIRACLE OF LIFE) (director: King Vidor; screenwriters: Elizabeth Hill/Joseph Mankiewicz/story by King Vidor; cinematographer: Robert Planck; editor: Lloyd Nosler; music: Alfred Newman; cast: Karen Morley (Mary Sims), Tom Keene (John Sims), Barbara Pepper (Sally), Addison Richards (Louie Fuente), John Qualen (Chris), Lloyd Ingraham (Uncle Anthony); Runtime: 73; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: King Vidor; Alpha Video; 1934)|
|"It makes for
an interesting Depression-era time capsule survival film from the New
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Unable to get
Hollywood-studio backing for his simplistic inspirational
Depression-era story, noted Hollywood director King Vidor ("The Big Parade"/"The
Crowd"/"Comrade X"), whose film career spanned 67 years, financed the utopian picture himself, with
assistance from Charles Chaplin (Vidor supposedly, according to him,
just broke even). It's labeled
as being 'inspired by the
headlines of today.' Writers
Elizabeth Hill and Joseph Mankiewicz fill the story with
social messages and a rousing rosy finish.
City folks Mary and John Sims (Karen Morley & Tom Keene) are tired of evading
bill collectors and become farmers when Mary's uncle Anthony (Lloyd
lets the sweet unemployed couple take over his abandoned run-down
country farm. Not knowing anything about farming, they offer Swedish immigrant Minnesota farmer (John Qualen)
and his family work when they learn he lost his farm to the bank. He
does such a good job farming, that John forms a cooperative commune and
allows other hungry unemployed skilled workers to be laborers in this
socialist utopia (dozens of them). The 'back to the land' commune
recruits a plumber, a carpenter, a stone mason, a mechanic and a
violinist willing to work the land, and everyone shares equally in the
food and profits.
The ideal community is threatened
the land is put up for auction by the sheriff because no mortgage
payments were made, when that's settled they must overcome a food
shortage. Further problems arise with the arrival of Sally (Barbara
Pepper), a seductive sexy loose woman who threatens the commune as she
has eyes for John and in a melodramatic way a love triangle is nudged
into the plot. The most serious problem faced is a severe drought that
threatens to kill the first corn crop. John gets the now divided
commune to work together to dig trenches near the stream and
successfully forms an irrigation system to water the land.
It makes for an interesting Depression-era time capsule survival film from the New Deal period. Obviously influenced by Russian prole cinema (such as Dovzhenko's "Earth"), the film looks more European than American.
REVIEWED ON 3/26/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ