An activist gets caught up in the labor movement for farm workers in California during the 1930s.


James Franco


Matt Rager (screenplay by) (as Matthew Rager), John Steinbeck (based on the book by)
2 wins. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Nat Wolff ... Jim
James Franco ... Mac
Vincent D'Onofrio ... London
Selena Gomez ... Lisa
Ahna O'Reilly ... Edie
Lio Tipton ... Vera (as Analeigh Tipton)
Jack Kehler ... Dr. Burton
Scott Haze ... Frank the Foreman
Sam Shepard ... Mr. Anderson
Joel Marsh Garland ... Al
John Savage ... Dan
Robert Duvall ... Bolton
Ed Harris ... Joy
Josh Hutcherson ... Vinnie
Julian De Niro ... Billy


In the California apple country, 900 migratory workers rise up "in dubious battle" against the landowners. The group takes on a life of its own - stronger than its individual members and more frightening. Led by the doomed Jim Nolan (Nat Wolff), the strike is founded on his tragic idealism - on the "courage never to submit or yield." Published in 1936, the novel "In Dubious Battle" is considered the first major work of Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence and brief sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Robert Duvall and James Franco appeared in Wild Horses (2015). See more »


Scene where Mac brushes his teeth, he's using a 21st century white plastic toothbrush with accordion bend. See more »


[first lines]
Jim: [narrating] My pop always told me to watch the scales. Said the world will always find a way to cheat the working man. I met Mac McLeod in 1933, and I witnessed up close the price of real change.
Title Card: At the height of The Great Depression, nearly one quarter of Americans were without jobs.
Bolton: [standing on the back of his truck] Gentlemen, ladies, come in, come in. Listen, please. Hear what I have to say, all right? This price cut pains me as much as it pains you. With the market as volatile as...
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Referenced in La noche de...: La noche de... En lucha incierta (2019) See more »


Stepping In, Stepping Out
Written and Performed by Timo Elliston
Published by 16W18 Music (BMI)
By Arrangement with BANG NY
See more »

User Reviews

Despite Its Flaws Has an Important Message
1 April 2017 | by larrys3See all my reviews

A powerful all-star cast, with varying degrees of screen time, in this film adaptation of a John Steinbeck book. It can drag at times and I felt it was overly long, but the message of the movie is quite important, in my opinion.

Set in 1933 (during the Great Depression), in the apple orchards of the Tongas Valley, in California, James Franco and Nat Wolff star as two radical organizers who infiltrate the apple pickers in that region to get them to fight back and band together against the landowners who are exploiting them.

The orchard owners will do anything to protect their interests and, as one would expect, the two groups will violently clash and chaos and bloodshed will ensue. I might note Vincent D'Onofrio gives a superlative performance here as London, a giant of a man elected to be the leader of the workers.

All in all, despite its flaws this movie serves as a good reminder of how bad things can get if the pendulum swings too far between the interests of business and their workers. In the seemingly rush of our Washington D.C. politicians to give free rein to corporations, perhaps this film can illustrate again that we're still fighting some of the same battles today some 80 years later.

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Release Date:

17 February 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In Dubious Battle See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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