OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES, 1945, INSCRIBED BY MARGARET O'BRIEN
(O'BRIEN, Margaret) (TRUMBO, Dalton) MARTIN, George Victor. Our Vines Have Tender Grapes. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1945. Octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket, pictorial endpapers. $450.
First "Motion Picture Edition" of George Victor Martin's debut novel, issued the same year as the lovely 1945 MGM film starring Margaret O'Brien, inscribed by her on "The Characters" page listing her and other actors, "To J— Sincerely Margaret O'Brien" with her bold flourish. The film's screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, soon to be blacklisted and imprisoned, stands out as "the last film to bear his name" until Spartacus and Exodus in 1960.
Martin's first novel was largely written while he worked for the Federal Writers Project in the 1940s. Published in 1950, it is the lyrical tale of a Norwegian-American family in rural Wisconsin. This first "Motion Picture Edition" was issued the same year as the 1945 MGM film starring Margaret O'Brien as the young Selma Jacobson and Edward G. Robinson as her father. Critics quickly praised the film, calling it "charming, delightful and heartwarming," and the young O'Brien, not yet ten but already a major star, was singled out as a "superior actress" (Hollywood Reporter).
The novel and its film adaptation also mark, in many ways, a striking if discordant turn in America's cultural and political history. Dalton Trumbo's screenplay, which captured much of the novel's innocence, barely reached the screen before he "was labeled a Communist and sentenced to jail for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee… After his arrest Our Vines Have Tender Grapes was banned from being shown on the basis that it had Communist overtones" (Ellenberger, Margaret O'Brien, 111-12). As Trumbo's last MGM credit, it was the "last film to bear his name until he emerged from the underground with the 1960 releases of Spartacus and Exodus" (Hanson, Dalton Trumbo, 89). Martin's novel was titled, on its initial appearance, as For Our Vines Have Tender Grapes. First edition with no statement of edition or printings on the copyright page. With black-and-white images from the film on dust jacket front panel, endpapers, double-page title, and four double-page illustrations. Half title with contemporary owner inscription dated "January 1946."
Book very fresh; light edge-wear mainly to spine ends, mild rubbing to the colorful dust jacket. Near-fine.