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Reviews & Ratings for
The Grapes of Wrath More at IMDbPro »

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A Family Movie

Author: tjsdshpnd from India
8 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Had heard a lot about John Ford (4 time Oscar Winner) - The revolutionary director of westerns and movies with a social message who inspired a generation of film-makers. This was his first movie I watched and hell it would surely not be his last one. The Grapes of Wrath is a story of a joint family living in America (State of Oklahoma) at the times of the 'Great Depression'. Homeless and out of work, they had to move to the extreme west (State of California) to have a chance of earning livelihood and survival. They move from Okhlahoma to California in a vehicle that is old enough to be kept in the museum. Their journey to California itself is a highlight of the movie. They venture through different towns and states, get the sometimes good and sometimes bad reception of local people of every state, Hell,loose two members of their family in the journey (The Journey in Little Miss Sunshine is inspired from this movie). Living peacefully all these years in their Oklahoma Farm, suddenly they are faced with the materialistic facet of human nature. Some days they go without eating, somedays without sleep, Looking here and there for a job, they are ready to do absolutely anything. In all this trauma and pain, the only thing that remains constant is the human emotion of love and belonging. As a family, they are emotionally richer than the most richest man around. The clear message given in this movie above all is the importance of a family and the attachment to it is the only constant thing in life.

Performances are absolutely top notch. Henry Fonda gives a great all-round performance which can be considered one of his best ever. From the family, the one that impresses the most is the family Matriarch played by Jane Darwell who is responsible actually for binding the family. Actresses in the black and white era normally over-dramatized or in short over-acted especially in movies as these. But her's is a very natural performance. Overall, this movie may not appeal to people who don't have the basic human emotions of love, belonging, grief etc. I am not of that kind and thus I thoroughly liked the movie.

Rating : 8/10

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HIST American Film

Author: s-diblasicrain from United States
21 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Grapes of Wrath" is a wonderful adaptation of John Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer-prize winning novel. I have a very high level of respect for John Ford and the scrutiny that came down upon him after directing this film, one of the most left-leaning, liberal films in Hollywood at the time.

The visual quality of this film is beautiful and the cinematography so clearly expresses the deep sadness and uncertainty of a family that has been forced out of their home and off of their land. There are too many beautiful visual moments in the film to explain in detail, but there seemed to be a pattern of filming that stuck out in my mind, and that is when only the reflection of conversational scenes are filmed, either in the reflection of a windshield or in a review mirror. This camera technique presented the very translucent and uncertain emotions that this wandering family must have been feeling. As I said this is only one of many successful visual scenes that make this film the emotional and beautiful success that it is.

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Best Movie of the 1940's!!

Author: Amym-24 from United States
5 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

During the Great Depression and today's recession, it's important for families to never give up hope on themselves and keep looking foreword and ahead to the future as they want to advance towards a better life in an economic, political, and social standpoint. Sometimes,money doesn't usually bring happiness and success for people, only family, respect for others, and love are what keeps a family together. No matter how many times a person hasn't succeeded in a goal, they continue to persevere until they make themselves happy and successful in their goals as well as making their family proud.

It was Steinbeck's novel and the screen writing is what made this movie stand out as the best movie of 1940.The narrative writing of the film was full of realism by showing us what it would have been like to live in a poor family that's been evicted by their home by greedy land owners, banks, gangs, and sheriffs that are supposed to protect the people from harm's way in the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. The narrative allows viewers to feel the experience and be in the movie as the actors were reliving real life experiences of moving away from home,exploring life, traumatized by death, despair, anger, and hope of finding a new life. The overall acting in this movie was excellent and well shown through their actions, the directing, and the script. The use of real natural wind, light, and the outdoor setting also made the story even more realistic and believable within the time period of the depression giving the film a more realistic feel. The photography and the use of the camera lens was excellent!! The juxtaposition of the two pictures of images in Muley's flashback and the movement through the states as shown by the signs in the moving time period, flowed well with ease through the story and adding the dimension of how the family drove and persevered to reach their goals and their attempts to save their homes from destruction. The use of shallow depth of field, lights and darks on the actor's faces, and the dark and light contrast in the sky was used very well in the film. The dark contrast and shadows brought out the mood of fear,anger, worry, and sadness that each of the characters expressed throughout the film during the tough economic crisis that was very emotional for the entire United States. Lighting created a sense of emotion, depth,mood, and how we see these characters in the film. Lighter outdoor scenes in the film were very opportunistic and bright as the families were looking into a happier life in the future.

This's the best movie that Zannuck has ever made in his life!! I would recommend this movie to everybody that needs to be influenced and want to persevere into having a better life for their family during the recession or need to be cheered up. It's an excellent movie overall!!

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This movie is strong

Author: Furuya Shiro from Kumamoto, Japan
28 February 2009

This movie is strong, because it accuses simple wrath, and this strength comes from people. At the ending, Ma says "Women are strong, because we accept the situation. We are the people." A man comes to poor farmers in Oklahoma to tell to go out of the land. He says that he got direction from his company; his company got direction from the bank in Tulsa; the banker in Tulsa got direction from the bank headquarters of the East, who makes all decisions to earn money most efficiently. This is the same with what is happening in today's world. Today, the greedy economic animals in the East of America are doing the same, and by their greedy acts the world is going to big depression. Therefore I felt this movie still has a strength that works today.

Though I have not read the book yet, there were some scenes I could not understand well. Kasy was an ex-preacher. He did not know about the economic social problems of the poor and the rich. He is arrested at the camp site to let Tom run away. It seems only few days later when Kasy was in a tent of strikers and he knows the tricks of capitalists. And Tom is deeply moved with Kasy's insight. How come did Kasy get such insight that shortly?

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Are we seeing the future?

Author: (
15 February 2009

I strongly encourage everyone out there to view this brilliant film. Though episodic and with the usual Steinbeck plotting weakness, the courage it took Zanuck, Ford, and Johnson to make this statement is astounding considering it came from Hollywood 1940. It goes from grim to grimmer with an honesty that is almost unbearable. In an age when our shallowest vanities are catered to, from designer coffee to nail salons, the film is a seminal reminder of what was and looks like will be again. One note of humor I appreciated: the head of the immaculate "social engineering camp" was made to resemble FDR. I can't but wonder -- is this the future as well as the past?

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And the people continue to go on.....

Author: TOMASBBloodhound from Omaha, NE USA
13 August 2008

John Ford directed some classics, and this might be his best. The Grapes of Wrath is of course based on John Steinbeck's seminal novel about the hardships of the Great Depression on Oklahoma sharecroppers forced to migrate to Californian for menial work. The film paints a stark picture of perhaps our country's most bleak period. A time when unemployment was around 25%, dust was choking off normally reliable farmland, and simply finding enough food to eat could be nearly impossible.This film was actually made when these kinds of conditions were still ravaging the United States. It would not be until the end of WWII that happiness on a large scale would be found once again within our borders.

The film itself is skillfully made and acted. Some of the edgier elements of Steinbeck's novel could not be included in a film in 1940, but the audience will still have no trouble understanding the dire circumstances these characters face. This film basically made Henry Fonda a star, and he may have never been better. Fonda stars as Tom Joad. Joad is portrayed in the film's earlier moments as kind of a shiftless and violent type who has just been let out of jail where he had been sent for killing a man. He seems to want to brag about this to a truck driver who gives him a ride out to his family's farm. Once he gets there, he encounters a washed-up preacher named Casey who is played by John Carradine. It seems that since Tom has been away, things have gotten so bad in rural Oklahoma that even preachers are losing faith. Tom Joad then learns that his family, among several others, have been ordered off their farms by either banks or faceless corporations that own them. Tom Joad has to grow up pretty quick after meeting up with his family members, and soon enough they load themselves and their belongings into an old truck and are headed out to California to find work.

The Joads encounter all sorts of hardships and prejudice on their journey, and things are even worse once they arrive in California. It seems that work is harder to find than they were led to believe, and the work there is doesn't pay worth a damn. Anyone who speaks out is likely to get beat over the head with an ax handle and killed. People are starving everywhere, and nobody in authority seems like they care. For a moment, the Joads seem to find a sanctuary in a government-run campground, but by this time, Tom Joad's fate is already pretty much determined. For reasons you will have to see for yourself, Tom Joad knows that he will have to spend the rest of his life on the run. And hopefully, he or his spirit will be able to help the "little guy" whenever he can. His goodbye scene with his mother is poignant, and it will touch even the most stone-hearted members of any audience.

The picture looks great. B/W has never looked this good. Even though some of the sets were obviously sound stages, you won't really mind. Except maybe the scene where Fonda and Carradine are walking up the land to the Joad farm. You can actually hear their voices echo off the walls and ceiling! The film is preachy, but these were desperate times back then. To a guy who is starving and cannot feed his family, socialist dogma must have sounded pretty good. All of the performances ring true, including Jane Darwell as Tom's mother. She won an Oscar, as did director Ford. The film is bleak, but in its final frames there is a definite twinge of optimism. This is key because when the film was made, nobody yet knew of the prosperity yet to come. Pearl Harbor had not even happened. The film definitely scores points for ending with an upbeat theme and showing its faith in the people. Because after all, we the people keep on keepin' on! 10 of 10 stars.

The Hound.

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A John Ford classic

Author: disdressed12 from Canada
26 April 2008

grapes of Wrath is the story of a family who is forced to leave their Oklahoma Farmstead due to the great depression.they leave everything behind,and head for California,where the men hope to work and the family can make a go of things.things don't go as smoothly as they'd hoped,of course.the movie details the struggles they go through.the movie is based on the novel by John Steinbeck(Of Mice and Men)while the screenplay is written by Nunnally Johnson(the Dirty Dozen).John Ford(The Searchers,Cheyenne Autumn)directs.Henry Fonda plays Tom Joad,on of the sons in the family,and the unofficial leader.the acting in this movie is superb from all concerned,and the movie is also well's not an action movie at all,but a story and dialogue driven piece.i didn't find it slow at all,due in large part to John Ford's direction,the great acting and strong's sad at times,but never depressing.for me,The Grapes of Wrath is a 10/10

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Analysis of The Grapes of Wrath; 1940 film

Author: Mark Zikiye ( from United States
28 November 2006

The following comment surmises the Classic book: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, but also pertains to scenes and events from the award winning 1940 picture.

John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is a stunningly realistic account of the daunting lifestyles of mid-western and southern farmers, who after having endured the vicissitudes of several consecutive years of drought and the lack of crop growth are compelled to relinquish ownership of their properties and move west for the prospect of a frivolous life, where fruits and vegetables are abundant and where labor is easy and prevalent. The historical significance of this movement is portrayed through the eyes of Steinbeck's memorable fictional characters: Casey, Tom Joad and his family. Having been recently released on parole from prison for the execution of a man, Tom Joad is keen on returning to his family once more. The identity of the man Tom has killed remains undisclosed throughout the book due to the fact that the significance of Tom's atrocity is not of the man he killed, but the reason he killed him. John Steinbeck built his book on characters with dormant animosity. The poor yield of the crops, the famine and pessimism of the future has all amounted to irrational wrath and unconventional violence. On his journey homebound Tom confronts a listless figure with his back against a tree bark and is surprised to discover that the person is none other than Casey, the preacher. Casey enlightens Joad that he is no longer a preacher and has given up a life of piety for the life of a "normal man". Here again, the ingenuity of Steinbeck's plot is witnessed, because the preacher's neglect of God shows that he unequivocally faces the predilections and dilemmas of the common people. He being a pastor does not make him exempt of the impending crisis soon to befall. By the time Tom Joad and Casey have reached Tom's former abode, they perceive that it has been abandoned and has been left to decay and disintegrate in putridity. When Tom asks a fellow farmer as to what has become of his family, he is aware that they have relocated elsewhere and are planning to embark on a tedious exodus west in a few days time. The grapes of wrath are beginning to plant their roots.

Tom and Casey reach Tom's family by nightfall and Tom asks his mother when they were to leave. She replies that they were to leave tomorrow morning. He then inquires whether or not they would have left, had he still been in prison. Tom's mother (alluded to as Ma) assures him that they would have dispatched an epistle. Now Steinbeck addresses the dire earnestness of the situation, by showing that Tom's family would have went west, whether he was in prison or not. When Tom's capricious grandpa adamantly rejects to moving west with the rest of the family he is knocked unconscious and sprawled upon the tarpaulin, which furthermore shows the vital importance of the move west. Soon after their departure, Grandpa falls ill and later succumbs to his sickness. He is given a banal burial, and the family along with Casey moves on, showing that even death would not intervene with the necessity of a better life out west. Later in the story when Tom's grandmother falls ill, the truck stops in front a checkpoint and an officer peruses about the items and occupants on board. Tom's mother ardently refuses for the mandatory checking, claiming that there are no liquids on board and that they have an ailing woman who is in need of critical medical attention. The officer permits them through out of maudlinness and when the rest of the family realizes that the grandmother is deceased they ask why she never informed them. She replies that she was scared the guards wouldn't let them through if they had known it was so, and once again we are blatantly witnessed to the importance of the migration west.

From thence forth the family is labeled as "Okies", not pertaining to the place of their birth, but a bias slur, generalizing them as simpletons who have neither food nor work, and ramp about the country pleading for undeserved privileges and necessities.

Goaded on by the lack of food and substantial work, the Joads reach California. Pa says something along the lines of "It will all be better once we get to California." and Tom replies that "We are already in California", signifying that life for them in the Midwest would be no different from life in California. Acres upon acres of plentiful fruits and vegetables which were not of their possession, but of the possession of the affluent, avaricious landowners were a mere ploy in the eyes of the Okies. They were there, redolent, serene and glistening, mocking the "Okies" for having come all that way merely to perceive something they would never have the ability to obtain. The grapes sagged on the branches of the Californian bushes. Troubles sagged on the hearts of the Okies and the wrath intensified into pure rage. The grapes of wrath had sewn their stalks in the hearts of the Okies.

Envy and spite instills within the former preacher Casey, to audaciously strike a cop who arrives to intentionally conjure trouble out of his own initial contempt. Casey is sent to prison and the family resumes in search of work and solace. Solace is found when the family reaches a stable government camp, where not only are hot baths and commodious tents bourgeois accessories but the affable people accentuate the atmosphere. The realization that life in the government camp is ephemeral goads the Joads onwards once more and Steinbeck idyllically portrays his use of deception by making his readers believe that a glorious life is prevalent when in all actuality it is not (he uses this style in Of Mice and Men as well).

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Grapes of Wrath-Bitter But A Slice of Americana ****

Author: edwagreen from United States
5 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tragedy of the dust bowl of the 1930s, the economic collapse and the resulting great depression all highlight this outstanding John Steinbeck book, which was made into a monumental motion picture.

Very hard to believe that Henry Fonda's Tom Joad lost the Oscar that year to Jimmy Stewart in "The Philadelphia Story." Fonda gave a superb performance in the role of the Oakie son going with his family to California to start life anew.

A year after her role as Aunt Pity Pat in the superb "Gone With the Wind," Jane Darwell won the best supporting actress award for her super sensitive but tough-minded Ma Joad. She depicted the pain felt by so many Americans during this difficult period, and won a well-deserved Oscar, despite the fact that her competition included Barbara O'Neil, ironically Scarlett O'Hara's mother in GWTW and the magnificent Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers in "Rebecca." What a difficult choice the Academy had.

As for the "Grapes of Wrath," it lost the Oscar to "Rebecca," but picked up the director's award for John Ford. The latter had an understanding of America and he was rewarded for depicting 1930s landscape. The movie dealt with harsh reality and is a tribute to the men and women of the period.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great movie

Author: rtherock915 from United States
20 October 2010

I have nothing but praise for this film. It is near perfection. Beautiful cinematography. Amazing acting. Powerful story about survival. Henry Fonda delivers what might be his best performance as Tom Joad a man struggling to get by but who eventually realizes that he is meant for greater things and that there's more to life than just helping yourself. The film is masterfully directed by John Ford and beautifully shot by cinematographer Gregg Toland. The outdoor shots are grand and bleak at the same time, bringing about a feeling of the insignificance of man compared to nature and the grand scheme of things. The lighting will go from very dark and depressing showing the characters in deep moments of suffering only for it to be broken by brightly lit moments where all seems well in the world. See this movie, that is all i have to say. Words almost fail to describe just how great this movie is

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