Tobacco Road

Synopsis: Shiftless Jeeter Lester and his family of hillbilly stereotypes live in a rural backwater where their ancestors were once wealthy planters. Their slapstick existence is threatened by a bank's plans to take over the land for more profitable farming; subplots involve the affairs and marriages of son Dude and daughter Ellie May.
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director(s): John Ford
Production: 20th Century Fox
84 min

This is Tobacco Road today,

but a hundred years ago...

... when the first Lesters

came to Georgia, it was different.

It run 15 miles down the ridge

to the Savannah River...

... through the richest

cotton and tobacco plantations...

... in the whole South...

... past fine big homes that the Lesters

themselves built and lived in.

But that was a hundred years ago.

Come a time then

when the land fell fallow...

... and worse and worse.

But you think the Lesters

would leave it? No, sir.

They stayed on and on...

... but all that they had

and all that they were...

... that's all gone with the wind

and the dust.

And this...

This is Tobacco Road today.


Hi, Henry. How come?

Can't complain, Jeeter.

That's good. Hey, is it...?

Is it true what I hear,

that Bessie's back?

Yes, sir, last week.

Buried her husband

down at Statesboro.

Wasn't hardly cold

before she picked up and hiked home.

Well, ain't that good?

Say, is she...?

Is she still full of spirit?

Jeeter, it's worse and more of it.

I do declare, it looks like my head's

gonna split open...

...with all this singing

and yelling and hallelujah-ing.

Whoo! She sure got a powerful voice.

Ain't been quiet since she got back.

Yeah, well, so long, Henry.

You know you got a blowout there?

I can get home

as long as I got one good one.

I'm gonna trade this darned car in

next year.

Well, so long, Henry.

What's the matter?

- Supper ready?

- Supper? Huh.

What about that wood?

Well, there it is, can't you see it?

How come I can still see it?

How come you didn't sell it?

Well, you can't sell no wood if nobody

wants to buy no wood, can you?

You're the craziest old fool

I guess I ever did see.

That's the fourth time you've taken

that same load to town...

...and brung it back.

Ain't even had it out of the car.

No, and I ain't gonna

take it out of the car.

Hey, here comes Lov.

He's toting a croker sack.

It's got something in it.

Reckon it's turnips

he's got in that sack.

Turnips? Mm.

I sure could use me

some turnips right now.

If it is, Lov sure will give his wife's

poor old ma some of them turnips.

He'll give me some...

...because Lov and me, we certainly

think a whole heap of each other.

Come on, get back.

Pretend like you didn't see him.

Come on, let's get back

and just act natural-like.

Hi, Lov! Ain't seen you in a long time.

Say, you must be plumb worn out...

...toting whatever it is

you got in that old croker sack.

- I ain't tired.

- How's Pearl, Lov? Is she all right?

That's what I come for.

I wanna talk to Jeeter about Pearl.

Well, what's she done now?

She been treating you mean again?

Jeeter, you gotta

say something to Pearl.

I'm getting darned sick

of the way she's acting.

Well, are you treating her right?

What's that gotta do with it?

She's married to me, ain't she?

Well, what's she done now?

Well... thing, she won't talk to me.

- What do you want her to say to you?

Anything, I don't care what.

She could ask me is my back tired...

...when I come home

from the coal chute, couldn't she?

Or do I think it's gonna rain...

...or when is I gonna get my hair cut.

There's a lot of things

she could ask me...

...but she won't say one darn word.

Well, maybe you don't

go about it right.

Why, I tried every way I know how.

I kicked her

and I poured water on her...

...and I chucked rocks

and sticks at her...

...and all she does

is bawl a lot when she's hurt.

You can't call that talking.

Well, her not talking

ain't anything to get mad about.

Why, Ada here

never spoke a word to me...

...for the first 10 years

we was married...

...and them was the happiest

10 years of my life.

She runs away too.

I'm sick and tired

of the whole business.

Give her time, boy. She'll be all right.

She ain't but 13, remember.

You listen to me, Lov Bensey.

If you don't like what she's doing,

bring her back home.

Get yourself another wife.

You can have Ellie May.

Oh, every time I say anything,

y'all want me to marry Ellie May.

Well, it ain't no use,

that's all there is to it.

I want a young wife. I ain't gonna take

no 23-year-old woman for a wife...

...and have everybody

laughing at me.

- Hey, Lov.

- Hey, Ellie May.

It's Pearl I'm talking about.

Lov, will you tell me whatever it is

you got in that croker sack?

I been looking at it

since you come here...

...and Lord knows

I'm just dying to know.

Turnips, by cracky.

Turnips. I ain't...

I ain't had me a good turnip

since a year ago last spring...

...and, oh, the good Lord only knows

how bad I've wanted one.

Why, you know, I could eat me

that whole croker sack full of...

I could eat me

a whole wagonload full of turnips...

...between now and sundown.

Don't look for me to give you none,

because I ain't.

Well, that's a whopping mean thing

to say to Pearl's poor old pa.

Ain't you gonna give me

just a bite, Lov?


I tell you what I'll do.

I'll make you a trade

for some of them there turnips.

I ain't trading turnips with nobody.

If you'll give me

some of them turnips...

...I'll go to your house

the first thing in the morning...

...and tell Pearl to behave herself.

Tell her that ain't no way

to treat a man...

...who's gone to the bother

of marrying her.

And I'll tell her she's gotta

stop hiding in them bushes...

...and ask if it's gonna rain.

- And are you gonna get your hair cut.

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Nunnally Johnson

Nunnally Hunter Johnson was an American filmmaker who wrote, produced, and directed motion pictures. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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