Our Daily Bread

Eric Rauchway is a professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Davis. His books include Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America and, most recently, The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction.

Long live the King-Vidor, that is. Determined to make a forthright film about social reinvention, Vidor mortgaged his home when neither studio nor bank would back the project. Shot on an abandoned golf course, Our Daily Bread follows the predicament of a penniless urban couple (Tom Keene and the radiant Karen Morley) who are offered a second chance, a derelict farm six miles from “Arcadia.” Once on the land, they realize they are ill equipped for a life of rural labor. But greater is the revelation that the countryside is flooded with displaced workers aching for employment. Under Keene's leadership, a “cooperative community” is formed, with all the workers pooling their worldly goods to make a go of it. Utopian with dirty overalls, Our Daily Bread isn't so much a call for socialism as it is a bid for bottom-line humanity, though the rousing finale seems like an homage to Soviet cinema edited to the tempo of pick and shovel.

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