Tom Joad returns to his home after a jail sentence to find his family kicked out of their farm due to foreclosure. He catches up with them on his Uncles farm, and joins them the next day as they head for California and a new life... Hopefully. Written by
Colin Tinto <firstname.lastname@example.org>
John Ford treated Dorris Bowdon quite badly. It may have been because she was the girlfriend of screenwriter Nunnally Johnson and was given the part by Darryl F. Zanuck, or it may simply have been one of Ford's frequent unexplainable dislikes, but he hounded the young actress on every point, from coming on the set with her hair improperly done to taking time to have her hair fixed. Shortly before filming the scene of the dance at the government camp, Jane Darwell expressed her nervousness to Bowdon about "being such a fat old lady and I have to dance and say lines at the same time." When Darwell did the entire take perfectly, Bowdon spontaneously broke into applause, launching a tirade from Ford that made her run from the set crying. The next shooting day, Ford rather awkwardly cheered her up with a little bawdy humor, and the two got on well after that, although she later said, "I was glad I never had to work with him again." Yet, Bowdon in later life also expressed the duality of feelings actors often had for the difficult director when she related a story about how he painstakingly talked her through a very emotional moment that she ended up nailing in a single take. "He was a superb director," she said. "I never saw another director work in a way that was as skilled." See more »
When the Joads pull over to fix a flat on their truck they stop in a small depression that leans the truck to the left. In the very next shot the truck is in a different spot and leaning to the right. See more »
Tom, you gotta learn like I'm learnin'. I don't know it right yet myself. That's why I can't ever be a preacher again. Preachers gotta know. I don't know. I gotta ask.
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They say that you should wait 20 or 30 years before attempting to capture an historical event on film. That is why it was remarkable that Oliver Stone was able to capture the "feel" of Viet Nam (in "Platoon") so soon (13 years) after America's withdrawal. Usually, an honest perspective takes more time to develop.
But, when you consider that John Steinbeck and John Ford needed less than ten years to bring the 1932 "dust bowl" to life, you really have to admire their magnificent achievement.
Of course, in 1940, Ford could not film much of the graphic squalor described in the novel. For example, the film cannot show a starving hobo suckling at the breast of a young Rose of Sharon, who has milk to spare following the death of her baby. But, far from degradation, Rose of Sharon's gesture is a reflection of the goodness that resides within her, and that quality is well illustrated in the character development seen on the screen. Tom Joad may be an ex-con, but he is a good man.
One of the commentaries (below) uses this film to rant about the exploitation in today's society. That completely misses the point. Ford, who was as conservative as anyone in Hollywood, even more conservative than John Wayne, used this movie to show that Man can triumph, despite the natural and human barriers that are put in his way.
This is ultimately a movie about hope and the human spirit.
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