Tortilla Flat

Overview

Like the John Steinbeck novel on which it is based, Tortilla Flat is not so much a movie as a series of warm-hearted anecdotes, all linked to a small California fishing village populated by poor but happy immigrants. The focus is upon Pilon Spencer Tracy, a good-natured, charismatic freeloader, and Danny John Garfield, a hot-headed fisherman who is dragged kicking and screaming into the world of personal responsibility when he inherits two small houses. As Pilon toys with the notion of stealing the nest egg saved...
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Overview

Like the John Steinbeck novel on which it is based, Tortilla Flat is not so much a movie as a series of warm-hearted anecdotes, all linked to a small California fishing village populated by poor but happy immigrants. The focus is upon Pilon Spencer Tracy, a good-natured, charismatic freeloader, and Danny John Garfield, a hot-headed fisherman who is dragged kicking and screaming into the world of personal responsibility when he inherits two small houses. As Pilon toys with the notion of stealing the nest egg saved up by an old man known as "the Pirate" Frank Morgan, Danny tries to spark a romance with sexy cannery worker Dolores "Sweets" Ramirez Hedy Lamarr. Abandoning the robbery plans when he learns that the Pirate intends to use his money to purchase a candlestick for St. Francis, Pilon turns his attentions to stealing Sweets away from Danny. But when Danny is injured in a drunken fight, the mercurial Pilon switches gears again, devoting his energies to bringing Danny and Sweets back together. Of the film's many highlights, standouts include the surprisingly effective "straight" performance by comic actor Frank Morgan for which he received an Oscar nomination, and the seemingly improvised songfest between Spencer Tracy and John Garfield.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Tortilla Flat has dated quite a bit since its 1942 release, and many modern viewers will find its portrayal of its mixed-Ethnic characters to be condescending and a bit insulting. But if one can look past this flaw, one is likely to find Tortilla an amiable and very agreeable little film. True, it's far from perfect: like the novel on which it is based, Tortilla is really more about atmosphere and character than it is about plot, and so the cinematic version comes off as a bit episodic and occasionally disjointed, in spite of the best efforts of director Victor Fleming to smooth over the rough patches and distract viewers from noticing this. But Fleming and his cast are so good at creating the atmosphere and at breathing life into the characters and their relationships that most viewers won't care about the bumps in the story. The cast is uniformly good, even Hedy Lamarr, whose abilities as an actress were limited and required special handling. She shines here, and has a great chemistry with John Garfield -- who for his part is lovably raffish. Spencer Tracy is perhaps first among the cast, seeming to enjoy his earthy part and having the chance to "unbend" a little. And Frank Morgan, in a rare non-comic part, demonstrates that he had a gift for drama that was rarely utilized.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/1/1998
  • UPC: 027616112637
  • Original Release: 1942
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mgm (Warner)
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Spencer Tracy Pilon
Hedy Lamarr Dolores Sweets Ramivez
John Garfield Danny
Frank Morgan "The Pirate"
Akim Tamiroff Pablo
Sheldon Leonard Tito Ralph
Donald Meek Paul D. Cummings
John Qualen Jose Maria Corcoran
Connie Gilchrist Mrs. Torrelli
Allen Jenkins Portagee Joe
Henry O'Neill Father Ramon
Nina Campana Senora Teresina Cortez
Arthur Space Mr. Brown
Betty Wells Cesca
Harry Burns Torrelli
Jack Carr Owner
Yvette Dugay Little Girl
Willie Fung Chin Kee
Louis Jean Heydt Young Doctor
Charles Judels Joe Machado
George Magrill Cannery Worker
Bob O'Connor
Tito Renaldo Boy
Timothy Ryan Rupert Hogan
Walter Sande Fireman
Harry Strang
Emmett Vogan Doctor
Roque Ybarra Alfredo
Technical Credits
Victor Fleming Director
Jack Dawn Makeup
Karl W. Freund Cinematographer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Benjamin Glazer Screenwriter
Paul Groesse Art Director
Robert Kalloch Costumes/Costume Designer
Frank Loesser Score Composer, Songwriter
John Lee Mahin Screenwriter
James Newcom Editor
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Gile Steele Costumes/Costume Designer
John Steinbeck Source Author
Sidney Wagner Cinematographer
Franz Waxman Score Composer, Songwriter
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
Sam Zimbalist Producer
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