John Savage, who is probably best known for The Deer Hunter and Thin Red Line, has joined James Franco’s In Dubious Battle, which is based on the 1936 John Steinbeck novel of the same name. Last week, director Franco found his leading man with Nat Wolff who stars as the farm laborer and activist for The Party who tries to organize a major strike by apple pickers in California. The project is shooting in Atlanta, GA starting this week.
Savage will play a farm laborer who fears losing his job that he needs and has grown to love. The story highlights the fears associated for any worker as to the ramifications of unionization and the jeopardy that comes along with it. Savage joins others in the cast which has shaped up to be an incredible line-up of really solid actors, including Selena Gomez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Robert Duvall, Ed Harris, Bryan Cranston, Sam Shepard, Danny McBride as well as Franco.
The story takes place, of course, during a time in this country when employees were organizing into unions or trying to fight for better treatment and wages from their employers. The same year Steinbeck’s story takes place, the Steelworkers union was founded, as was the Textile union. Even artists were forming unions — the Directors Guild of America was formed the same year when prestige helmers such as John Ford, Howard Hawks, William Wellman, Lewis Milestone, King Vidor and others joined together to found the guild.
The Gallup Organization has been polling Americans about unions since 1936 and found that only 11% of Americans were part of a union in 1937, but by the 1950s that percentage had grown to 18%. So the story for In Dubious Battle is set in a crucial time in American history.
AMBI Group, run by Andrea Iervolino and Lady Monika Bacardi, is financing the film and producing with Rabbit Bandini Productions and That’s Hollywood Pictures Production. Besides Iervolino and Bacardi, Scott Reed, Vince Jolivette, Ron Singer and Iris Torres are producing.
Savage’s deal was negotiated by Peter Young at Sovereign Talent and Alan Somers at Pure Arts Entertainment.