Take a Drink: whenever someone’s ridiculously cheery in the face of adversity
Take a Drink: when you cross your fingers some Native Americans come along, because these Pilgrims gonna die
Take a Drink: for tough guy antics
Take a Drink: for overblown speeches
Do a Shot: haha, fuck Democracy, screw Socialism, up with… Monarchy?
By: Henry J. Fromage (Five Beers) –
My experience with King Vidor, besides paying respect to that righteous name, is limited to his Duel in the Sun, which I quite enjoyed. He received acclaim for quite a few films, though, so when my classic film raffle fell on this one, I was intrigued.
King Vidor, I presume.
Our Daily Bread is a socialist leaning call to return to the earth, a moment that picked up a lot of steam during the Great Depression. In it, a man (Tom Keene) and his wife (Karen Morley) decide to flee the jobless city and start farming. They have zilch for experience, but luckily a Minnesotan farmer on his way to California passes by, and soon a collective farming community of displaced folk springs up. Will this great social experiment work, or blow away like dust in the wind?
And be mumble-morialized later?
This was clearly a passion project for Vidor, who unsurprisingly has to find it themselves. The historical context of the film is quite interesting, and it’s hard not to appreciate the brotherhood of man message at its core. He also manages some striking imagery, in particular the mad dash to irrigate the fields in the end. The final shot is an idyllic tableau, almost like something out of a poster.
Yeah, this is propaganda, and transparently so. The plot isn’t a plot so much as a message delivery system, which is a shame because the message would come through 100% stronger if it arose from the story, instead of drove it.
The acting is as broad as the writing. The central couple is ridiculously wholesome and cheery. The former you can thank the Hays Code for, but the latter is head-scratching. Just about all of the drama in the film is rendered undramatic by the relentlessly optimistic way the characters react to it. One arc in particular, involving a major sacrifice, is completely castrated by the reaction to it, and the off-handed way the consequences of it are lessened so nobody gets the feel-bads.
Tom Keene, who I’ll heretoforward refer to as Cheesy McCheeserson, is fucking awful. That may sound a little harsh, but there is literally not a single event in the film that he doesn’t react to by mugging it up. He’s the whitest, most cucumber sandwich and vanilla ice cream motherfucker who ever lived, somehow even making the action of abandoning your wife and life’s work to run off with sleazy tramp feel like heading to the Cracker Barrel after church with your in-laws.
Dave Chappelle can’t even do whiteface like this bastard.
One bit of good news- the movie’s short. Of course, that means that this epic struggle of man uniting to tame nature and achieve self-sufficiency moves far too fast to accomplish any of that.
Our Daily Bread is a movie full of nice ideals and poor execution. It’s the personification of that annoying chick on the quad trying to trap you in a cloud of patchouli and world hunger statistics.