In Dubious Battle is a 2016 drama film directed by and produced by James Franco, based on John Steinbeck's novel of the same name, with a screenplay by Matt Rager. The film features an ensemble cast, consisting of Franco, Nat Wolff, Josh Hutcherson, Selena Gomez, Vincent D'Onofrio, Analeigh Tipton, Zach Braff, Bryan Cranston, Ed Harris, and Robert Duvall. The film gets caught up in the labor movement for fruit workers in California during the 1930s. The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 3, 2016.[1]


The story, set in 1933, focuses on young Jim Nolan (Wolff), the latest recruit of a small political party who’s taken under his wing by the smooth-talking and more experienced Mac McCloud (Franco). Their approach to fighting for workers’ rights is to infiltrate a group of apple pickers in California who have been told by the local landowner, Bolton (Duvall), that their pay won’t be $3 a day but actually just $1 a day because “times are tough”.[2]


  • James Franco as Mac McLeod
  • Nat Wolff as Jim Nolan
  • Selena Gomez as Lisa London
  • Vincent D'Onofrio as Al Anderson
  • Robert Duvall as Chris Bolton
  • Ed Harris as Joy
  • Bryan Cranston as Sheriff
  • Sam Shepard as Mr. Anderson
  • Zach Braff as Connor
  • Josh Hutcherson as Vinnie
  • Ahna O'Reilly as Edith "Edie" Malone
  • Analeigh Tipton as Vera
  • Scott Haze as Frank
  • Alex Morf as Burke
  • Danny McBride as Tramp
  • Jacob Loeb as Paul
  • Keegan Allen as Eddie
  • Ashley Greene as Danni Stevens
  • John Savage



On January 30, 2015, it was announced that James Franco would not only direct the film but star in it too. Also cast was Vincent D'Onofrio, Robert Duvall, Ed Harris, Bryan Cranston, Selena Gomez, and Danny McBride has joined the production.[3]

On March 16, 2015, Nat Wolff was cast in the lead role of Jim Nolan, the organizer of the strike by apple pickers in California.[4] In the next two days, Josh Hutcherson, Zach Braff, Analeigh Tipton, John Savage, Ashley Greene, and Ahna O'Reilly would join the currently film production.[5][6] Several days later on March 24, 2015, it was announced that Scott Haze has been cast as Frank.[7]


Principal photography began on March 19, 2015 in Atlanta including Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, Georgia, filming also took place in Bostwick, Georgia, and Yakima, Washington.[8][6][9] Production on the film ended in September 2015.[10]


'In Dubious Battle' had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 3, 2016.[1] The film will be released in theaters in the United States on February 17, 2017.[11]


A full trailer was released on January 28, 2017.[12]


Critical response

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 40% approval rating, based on reviews from 5 critics, with an average score of 5.2/10.[13]

The film gained mixed reviews at its world premiere, "with Owen Gleiberman of Variety noting that Franco "has acquired skills that are beginning to fuse with the best of his instincts""[14] Gleiberman also says that "'In Dubious Battle' isn’t a totally clear-cut good movie, but it’s a scrupulous and watchable one. And it makes me think, for the first time, that James Franco has a good movie in him."[15]

Boyd van Hoeij of The Hollywood Reporter simply called the film and Franco as "uneven" but also states that "if In Dubious Battle remains watchable, it’s because Wolff really sells his character’s doubts, growth and sobering reality checks".[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Venice Film Festival 2016". Deadline. 28 July 2016. Retrieved August 12, 2016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "'In Dubious Battle': Venice Review". The Hollywood Reporter. September 2, 2016. Retrieved January 31, 2017. 
  3. Justin Kroll (January 30, 2015). "James Franco Assembles Cast for Adaptation of ‘In Dubious Battle’". Variety. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  4. Anita Busch (March 16, 2015). "Nat Wolff Takes Lead In James Franco’s ‘In Dubious Battle’". Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  5. Dave McNary (March 18, 2015). "Josh Hutcherson, Zach Braff Join James Franco’s ‘In Dubious Battle’". Variety. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Anita Busch (March 17, 2015). "John Savage Joins James Franco’s ‘In Dubious Battle’". Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  7. Justin Kroll (March 24, 2015). "James Franco Taps ‘Child of God’ Star for ‘In Dubious Battle’ (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  8. Jennifer Brett (March 19, 2015). "James Franco on the set of "In Dubious Battle"". Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  9. "'Putting Steinbeck on screen is TOUGH!' James Franco admits he's finding directing In Dubious Battle a challenge". Daily Mail. March 21, 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  10. Pat Muir (October 1, 2015). "'In Dubious Battle' James Franco movie extras rub shoulders with stars'". Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  11. Briones, Isis. "Selena Gomez's Brand-New Trailer Shows Off Her Most Dramatic Role Yet" (in en). Teen Vogue. 
  12. "In Dubious Battle Trailer: James Franco and Selena Gomez Lead the Resistance". Vulture. January 28, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017. 
  13. "In Dubious Battle". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 31, 2017. 
  14. "James Franco Starts an Apple Revolution in the ‘In Dubious Battle’ Trailer". Screen Crush. January 28, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017. 
  15. "Venice Film Review: James Franco’s ‘In Dubious Battle’". Variety. September 2, 2016. Retrieved January 31, 2017. 

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