The New Pictures, May 18, 1942

Tortilla Flat (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), a picaresque tale of life among squalid California paisanos, has had an odd history.

John Steinbeck wrote the novel in 1935, and found his first public. Dramatist Jack Kirkland (Tobacco Road) made it into a dirty, dismal, unsuccessful play in 1938, and socked a drama critic* for saying so. It went to Paramount Pictures for peanuts ($4,000) and, after some customary Hollywood sleight-of-hand, wound up at M.G.M. for $60,000.

After Author Steinbeck had acquired success and a bank account,† he brooded over his wayward Flat, offered $10,000 to remove it from...