In Dubious Battle

In Dubious Battle

DVD - 2017
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Set in California apple country in the 1930s, nine hundred migratory workers rise up and join forces to protest unfair wages and working conditions. As the labor strike wears on and conflict grows between the apple pickers and the local growers' association, what begins as a fight for their rights turns into an all-out battle for survival in this star-studded retelling of John Steinbeck's beloved novel.

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r
richmole
Apr 22, 2018

Lots of reasons to skip this John Steinbeck, Dirty Thirties labour-struggle story.
1. If you want a happy ending (or, perhaps, any ending). You'll find neither here.
2. If you like good-guy winners. Look elsewhere. The scorecard: Losers: many, including the farmer who chooses the wrong side--"the good guys." Winners: the three men who control the valley. Clearly the "bad guys." It's that kind of movie, folks. Still interested? OK...

4. Avoid this if you want likeable characters. Movie-goers and readers LIKED Grapes' of Wrath's Tom Joad, his Mom and sister. Even former preacher Jim Casy, who "lost the spirit" under the crush of bad economic times. Sorry, NO likeable characters here and I include the single-mother character. She may be a victim, but she's a pill.

3. Avoid If you like subtlety. Sorry, wrong movie. Should we blame the movie makers (screenwriter Matt Rager and producer/director/star James Franco?) Maybe. Maybe author John Steinbeck, who wrote the book (as a "developing" novelist--Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden were yet to come.) Which ever, this is a hit-'em-over-the-head message movie. Message: change is messy; demands violence, engenders stupidity, ignorance, nastiness and duplicity. And those are the traits of...the good guys.

PS: I got the movie's meaning, but the OTHER message is this: times were tough back then, but they're likely gonna be even tougher in less than 15 years from now. Anybody who thinks otherwise--like the young apprentice agitator of this story-- is woefully naive. A stock market crash won't be to blame, it'll be what's called "second generation automation." In 1933, about 25% of American workers were unemployed. About 15 years from now (a century later), some predict the US unemployment figure will be close to 50%. In the 30s, unemployment meant riots. This time around? Maybe civil war.

Still want to give this a go? You could do worse. Three stars.

j
jimg2000
Apr 08, 2018

It has been a long time since feature films on labor movements like “The Grapes of Wrath 1940”, “On the Waterfront 1954” and “Norma Rae 1979.” Great to see some old timers and fresh faces doing their parts to revive the lost labor movement spirit. Today, once more, we send troops and many $billions around the world to fight for democratic ideals and human rights but suppressed our own people fighting for a living wage at home. In 2018 year-to-date, teachers are finally fed up in West Virginia (won 5% pay raise), Oklahoma (striking since Apr 2nd) and Arizona (considering a strike soon.) However the script, based on John Steinbeck's novel of the same name, seemed unfocused and diluted with low impact narratives before the final twist.
Notes -- Title cards at the end of the film:
1. Across the nation, countless workers engaged in battles life these in the ongoing fight for fair treatment. In 1934 alone, over 1.5 million workers took part in over 2,000 labor strikes. Most ended in failure, with many of the strikers arrested, wounded, or even killed. But out of these struggles arose change.
2. In 1935, congress passed the Wagner Act guaranteeing workers the right to unionize, collectively bargain, and strike. In 1938, President Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act establishing the federal minimum wage, overtime pay, and the forty-hour work week.
3. The labor anthem song "Which Side Are You On" in "Videos."

h
hammer59
Nov 02, 2017

Hail Franco for directing such a film! It portrays the Dark Ages of American labor, and the exploitation of common Americans prior to legislation at the Federal level to protect and empower workers prior to the formation of Unions. The war against the working man is constantly championed by the GOP and aided by a fearful and misinformed public. That so many gifted "A-list" actors chose to appear in this film is heartening. Tragically, the Unions in America have been decimated---unlike Germany, France and the UK. Skilled labor isn't cheap....and cheap labor isn't skilled.

l
laphampeak
Oct 10, 2017

Well done drama about low wage apple pickers and their decision to strike. I guess Steinbeck had labor intended the strike from an organized group as a form of Communism. I took from the film version that it was at a time when groups organized to eventually form Unions. Workers rights and fair wages is a perpetual problem. It's been said that Steinbeck forms the strike as man's battle with himself. Fabulous actors!!!

r
ramrob_0
Oct 05, 2017

Excellent movie.The story is how people were treated, before they had the right to have unions.

2
22METZ
Sep 03, 2017

Good movie. The ending let's you know why the movie was called in dubious battle.

l
LauraSteinert
May 27, 2017

Completely unrecognizable as "Grapes of Wrath" but still a well told tale of a horrid period of greed and despair in our recent history. It seems especially important in 2017 when our government appears to be turning against the poor and guarding the top 1%'s profit margins.

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jimg2000
Apr 08, 2018

IMDb got most of the best quotes already and they are worthwhile to read up:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4411618/quotes/?tab=qt&ref_=tt_trv_qu

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