Our Daily Bread Sliced Thin

King Vidorís 1934 film Our Daily Bread is aptly named, for the film is of a prayer than an actual solution to the Great Depression. Like other Socio-political films of the era, it tries to offer a solution to the problems faced by so many Americans. However, Vidorís message gets lost somewhere between the poor production, the bad acting, and the inconsistent ideology of the film. For those reasons what comes out at the end is an almost silly climax with little realism that offers the same amount of help that an escapist vehicle of the same period would offer.
Vidorís vision first began with his 1928 classic film of a couple being subjugated by the big city, The Crowd, which is the first part of a series of films Vidor wanted to do that depicted the lives of average American men and women (Vidor 221). The film follows the protagonist, John, as he slaves away in his office doing paperwork like so many other insignificant men. When John leaves work he is still just going through the motions, for his courtship and marriage to the heroine of the film, Mary, seems like a part of the city routine. Their marriage is enclosed by the city that their marriage suffers until Mary becomes pregnant. Here Vidor makes his point with his images of births in quantity (Bergman 76).
Johnís downfall in the film begins with the death of his child. Hit in the street by a truck, the child lies dying as John tries seems to fight the sights and sounds of the city that killed his daughter. Her death continues to haunt John as he relives the scene over and over at work. Eventually he loses his job and his wife, and he wanders around with nothing to live for. He reunites with Mary in the end and they attend a show, where on the program is an advertising slogan that he is responsible for. He rejoices in this achievement, and is then able to laugh at the show, joining the rest of the people in the crowd. It is a touching and realistic ending that Vidor called ďA perfectly natural finish for the story of Mr. AnymanĒ (Bergman 76).
In the early 1930s Vidor wanted to take the trials and unrest of the common man and put it into a film, so he read as many articles as he could on the subject (Vidor 220). He came across an article by a college professor in Readerís Digest that proposed the implementation of agricultural co-operatives as a solution to unemployment. Vidor used this concept to formulate his story with his wife, and the two of them began work on the script. They finished the story in four months, which they titled Our Daily Bread. It followed a trend of other ďback to the earthĒ films that came out in 1933, such as King Kong, State Fair, The Life of Jimmy Dolan, and Strangerís Return.
With the script finished Vidor tried to sell the idea to Irving Thalberg at MGM, but although he expressed a liking for the story, he didnít think it appropriate for MGM (Vidor 221). Vidor had no better luck with anyone else until he appealed to Charlie Chaplin, a co-owner of United Artists. UA agreed to release the picture, but Vidor still had to produce it himself. To get funding he hocked everything he could, raising about $125,000 to budget his film.
With this money Vidor was able to make his film about an ideal social system, where people work together towards a common goal with a relationship based on trust to form a utopian community, showing the romantic idealist in Vidor (Welsh 446). Vidor wanted to take the same protagonists from The Crowd, John and Mary, and place them in Our Daily Bread so that he could move them out of the city and show them in a rural environment. Vidor wanted to offer an alternative lifestyle that involved getting away from the big cities and living off of the land. His conception of the agricultural co-operatives suggested a shifting away from industrialization and instead refocusing on the countries agricultural strengths to pull us out of the Depression.
In Our Daily