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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Our Daily Bread (1934)

During the great depression, a young married couple (Karen Morley, Tom Keene) move from the city to a farm where they hope to make a go of it. Unable to make a success of it on their own, he recruits other victims of the depression and utilizes their trades and they form a coalition. A community collective where everyone works and shares in the bounty. Though independent cinema is the norm now, it's not new. The director King Vidor was unable to interest any of the studios in this low budget project, so he funded it himself and was able to make it without studio interference. The film's premise is a Utopian fantasy, of course, the kind of idealistic philosophy that is destined to fail given mankind's penchant for upward mobility. Most of the film is devoted to the ragtag collection of depression victims struggling to make their dream come true and it's more than a little simplistic. But near the end, there's a spectacular piece of cinema. The entire irrigation sequence is a thrilling example of montage, unlike the rest of the film it has a rhythm of its own and the editing is as precise as a choreographed production number. Vidor has some help from Joseph L. Mankiewicz (dialog), Alfred Newman (score) and Robert Planck (cinematography). With Barbara Pepper as the serpent in Eden, Addison Richards and John Qualen.

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