Classic Film Guide

Good Earth, The (1937)

A story about the hardships faced by Chinese farmers, including a spectacular scene with locusts. Paul Muni and Luise Rainer are excellent as two of the peasants who marry, with Rainer earning her second consecutive Best Actress Academy Award, after The Great Ziegfeld (1936). Walter Connelly, Tilly Losch, Charley Grapewin, Jessie Ralph, Keye Luke, and Harold Huber (among others) also appear. Nominated for Best Picture and Editing Oscars; it won for Cinematography (Karl Freund's first Oscar nomination). Plus, this film marks the only Best Director nomination for Sidney Franklin, who produced five Oscar nominated films, winning for Mrs. Miniver (1942). Also notable, it's the first and only time that MGM's boy wonder executive & producer Irving Thalberg's name appears on-screen (the picture is dedicated to him as "his last great achievement"). Talbot Jennings (Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)), Tess Slesinger, and Claudine West adapted their screenplay from the novel by Pearl Buck.

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