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The Forgotten Village1941

Acted on location by nonprofessionals and written by famed novelist John Steinbeck, this docudrama (made several years before the advent of neo-realism) was a highly unusual endeavor in its day. It portrays the lives of a corn-harvesting family outside a Mexican mountain village, routinely cheated by the men who buy their crops, imperiled by unsanitary conditions and harmed by quack folk remedies in place of proper health care. The need to move past superstition and use modern methods to vanquish the ills of poverty is central to this simple, powerful story narrated by Burgess Meredith. The striking cinematography is by co-director Alexander Hammid (who would soon marry and collaborate with Maya Deren on her 1943 experimental landmark MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON). - Dennis Harvey

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