In Dubious Battle
Set in the orchards of California Valley in the dirty '30s, Steinbeck's tale follows two young idealists from "The Party" who are appalled by the orchards' terrible working conditions and set out to organize the fruit pickers.
Having arrived from out of town, Mac McLeod (Franco) and Jim Nolan (Nat Wolff ) are met with skepticism and some outright hostility when they first suggest unionizing.
Most of the pickers simply want to work and get paid, even if they are being mercilessly exploited. Mac and Jim realize that their progress depends on convincing local elder Al Anderson (Vincent D'Onofrio). He's a hard nut, but could be won over after Mac helps his daughter-in-law, Lisa (Selena Gomez), when she goes into labour. Surrounding the two activists is a cast of eclectic characters with varying loyalties, among them the ruthless orchard owner (Robert Duvall), who is determined to crack down on any strike action.
Franco goes right to the heart of Steinbeck's novel. He captures the intense strife between embattled workers and their entrenched opposition, while placing personal relationships against the larger picture of Depression-era politics. This is a meticulously detailed film, fuelled by righteous outrage.
(Source: tiff.net, Author: Piers Handling)
World Premiere: September 3, 2016 @ Venice Film Festival, Theatrical Release February 17, 2017 (USA)
Runtime: 110 min
Director: James Franco
Writers: Matt Rager (screenplay), John Steinbeck (novel)
Producers: Monika Bacardi, James Franco, Andrea Iervolino, Vince Jolivette, Scott Reed, Ron Singer, Iris Torres
Executive Producers: Martin Guigui, Ryan Johnson (co- executive producer), Brian Kutsunai (co-executive producer)
Cinematographer: Bruce Thierry Cheung
Editors: Aaron I. Butler, Gary Roach
Production Design: Kristen Adams
Composer: Volker Bertelmann
Cast: Robert Duvall, James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nat Wolff, Sam Shepard, among others