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The Grapes of Wrath More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

An American Epic

Author: Churl Han from Toledo, OH
24 March 2002

This movie is a masterpiece of a period in American history that people often try to forget but deserves to be remembered.

The movie if it had been made today probably would have been a tale that ends happy with sunshine on their faces and hope in their hearts, but that would be a terrible disservice to the Steinbeck work and to the actual people who suffered through the terrible conditions depicted in the movie.

This movie has very powerful themes and a compelling story that force the viewer to suffer with the Joad family. When they are hungry, so are you. When they cry, you weep with them. It is hard not to feel like one of the Joads through their trials.

For those who enjoyed Henry Fonda in this movie would probably also enjoy his performance in "Twelve Angry Men," which is a great film in and of itself.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: olddiscs from Fords, NJ
20 February 2002

One of the very few times a great novel,became a truly great movie, without changing or editing too much. John Steinbecks The Grapes of Wrath/ depicts a strong piece of American History during the depression/ dust bowl yrs!! The plight of the Family Joad on its trek to find "gold" in the state of California during the early 1930's! is a great American saga, and great filmmaking/ John Ford's finest film! Won some Oscars should have won more/ Picture, director (Ford), actor Henry Fonda in his best screen portrayal as Tom Joad/ no Oscar!!/ Thankful, Jane Darewell won as Mama Joad !! an extraordinary example of great American film making/an American story/ An American tragedy beautifully depicted on cinema.. will never be improved or recaptured buy or rent this great American film.. a sad point in our history, beautifully and stoically filmed.... a true classic!!

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A powerful and moving film

Author: Arkaan Semere (
30 September 1999

Grapes of Wrath has everything that a movie should have:breathtaking cinematography, great acting, writing and directing.

The cinematography, by Gregg Toland, is absolutely incredible. There is not a false note in the script. Tom Joad's final speech is done, not with flamboyance but determination, and Henry Fonda doesn't overact at all. Henry Fonda gives the performance of a lifetime. He was robbed at the oscars, as was the film.

One of the greatest films of all time, and John Ford's best directing job.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

John Ford's Classic

Author: Elizabeth ( from New York
12 July 1999

This is a good movie. Although I find it really depressing, the actors make up for it. Henry Fonda is incredible as Tom...he breaks my heart with his soft speech and gentle looks.

Like I said, the movie is very, very depressing, but you really should see it. It's a classic, and you shouldn't miss Henry Fonda's greatest acting, which makes my vote a 10!

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Misrepresentation Of History

Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas
24 November 2014

This hyped classic has a number of problems seldom acknowledged by reviewers and serious film historians. Only the first 45 minutes or so take place in Oklahoma. Well over half the plot is set either on the road or in California. This is a curious plot structure for a film about "okies".

Very few of the Oklahoma scenes were actually filmed in Oklahoma. Indeed, the Joad farmstead and surrounding landscape look nothing at all like Oklahoma; these scenes were all filmed in California. In point of fact, John Steinbeck was born and raised in California. His novel is based on second-hand information, distorted even more by a Hollywood cinema machine interested only in money.

Viewers have come to assume, implicitly, that Steinbeck's book is factual. It is not. The story is fiction. The Joad clan is fictional. Their journey to California is fictional. The specific worker camps are fictional. The only elements of the film that are based on truth are the era setting and the struggles that most people from the Great Plains endured during the 1930s. That part is real.

There was genuine hardship and suffering. But it's a mistake to assume that everyone who migrated to California during that period were as destitute as the Joads. I personally have ancestors who lived in Oklahoma in that era; some moved; some stayed in Oklahoma, but none were indigent. The Joad's decrepit car is a symbol of the film's visual misrepresentation, in addition to the fake Oklahoma landscape.

The exaggerated impoverishment of script characters results from a Hollywood establishment eager to send a political message about social class inequity, a way to manipulate viewer perceptions. But the downside to that manipulation is that it has had a profoundly negative effect on Oklahoma and other Great Plains states in the subsequent sixty years. The resulting cultural bias against these dust bowl states has caused damage that far surpasses the damage done by nature and the economy. Such is the power of Hollywood and the gullibility of viewers to trust filmmakers.

That said, the film's B&W cinematography is quite good. The story is rendered mournfully bleak, largely as a result of Gregg Toland's use of wide-angle lenses and dim lighting. The song "Red River Valley" is ideal for the locale and era. I also like the absence of actors' makeup, which adds a subtle touch of realism. Casting is acceptable and so is acting, except for the two most elderly of the Joads (Grandpa and Grandma), who overact dreadfully. Their portrayal of old people is insulting.

I consider "The Grapes Of Wrath" a Hollywood sacred cow, critically untouchable. But Steinbeck and Hollywood combined to do far more damage to the dust bowl states than the hardships that actually occurred. The cultural residue this film has left has been most unfortunate.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The 30 Greatest Films Ever Made, Continued

Author: anonymous124 from United States
8 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(part of 30 essays I'm writing on what I consider the 30 greatest films of all time. They are written in no particular order)

The film begins quietly. The time: The Depression. The setting: The Dust Bowl. The screen is filled with empty space, lonely and windy, as the camera keeps its distance from all of the characters. A man convinces a truck driver to give him a ride, even though his boss doesn't permit it. Finally we see their faces up close. The hitchhiker is Tom Joad (Henry Fonda). Some way to their destination Joad tells him he just got out of jail. The truck driver gets nervous. Joad says "Bet your just dying to know what I was in for, well I'll tell you." It's his stop. As he gets off, he yells behind him "Homicide!" He got into a fight with a man when they were both drunk, and the other pulled a knife, and Joad killed him.

This is how we are introduced to "The Grapes of Wrath," a dark, lyrical and beautiful film that seems light years ahead of its time. An outspokenly socialist film, one may be surprised to find out the director, John Ford, was a republican capitalist. He did leave more of the incendiary parts from the book out, and toned down much of the original books anger, but there is still much of the same work here. The film is sad and gripping in the way it handles scenes like the one where they bury the grandfather on the way to California. His wife wants to buried with him, but they have to continue. Hundreds of miles away in California, the grandmother dies and they bury her. The sadness in this scene is underplayed, without too much weeping or excessive Hollywood-like tragedy, and it works. Death has become something these people are used to. But the depression destroys them in the way it separates them. Separation is something they are not used to, because they have lived in the same place for generations and generations.

The Grapes of Wrath follows the Joads, who are kicked off their land and whose homes are destroyed like everyone else's, to make way for a huge field that will profit a wealthy landowner. Some refuse to leave. One man hides out it the fields, his family gone to California, not accepting he has to leave the land that was fought for and built by his great great grandfathers. When Joad encounters him, he is a little insane.

The Joads, like many other families, get fliers advertising work for farmers in California. So the 9 of them and Casy the ex preacher (played brilliantly by John Carradine) pile into one truck which they worry could break down any minute. On the way there, they are warned at a camp from a man who received the same flier, and says they gave out twice as many fliers as they needed men, the work was taken, and if you did get it they would put you under inhuman conditions. They head on anyway and arriving they find he is more or less right. Once in, they are not allowed out, and are guarded by armed guards who tell them they will shoot them if they leave the house when its not work time. Joad escapes and finds Casy trying to organize a union. For doing so, he is shot by cops as he stands surrounded, with his hands raised. Joad helps the whole family escape.

The next time they are incredibly lucky and are taken in by an FDR lookalike who treats them benevolently and kindly, and offers good pay. Just when it seems everything is going to turn out, Tom Joad's past catches up with him and he has to run away, alone. He bids farewell to Ma Joad (Jane Darwell, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress):

I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beating' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eating' the stuff they raise and living' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too.

So will we, Tom. So will we.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A powerful movie!

Author: miken-3 ( from United States
26 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Good adaptation of Steinbeck's superb novel. The Joad family were farmers in Oklahoma (referred to as Okies) during the "Dust Bowl" years when drought caused a lot of farmers to lose everything.

There are promised work in California and pack up their dilapidated truck with their family including the grandmother (I wonder if the idea for The Beverly Hillbillies came from this) and have a grueling trip there. When they arrive they are treated like "slaves," not even paid enough to buy food.

This was probably Fonda's best role as the noble Tom Joad. John Carridine is also excellent in a supporting role.

This film is historical and an important statement on how corruption lead to the formation of unions and workers rights!

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A word in praise of Charley Grapewin

Author: vaughan.birbeck from Solihull, England
19 March 2001

Lots of comments here about "Henry Fonda's best" and "John Ford's best". I'd like to give my personal Best Supporting Actor Award to Charley Grapewin for capturing the senile, exhausted, stubborn, pathetic (in the true sense of the word) William James 'Grampa' Joad to perfection. When I saw the film I kept having to convince myself I was watching a performance, that this was acting. Superb!

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

One Powerful Film

Author: david.clarke from london
17 March 2001

When I first saw this in the 1970's I was an impressionable teenager and it affected my social thinking greatly. The performances stayed with me for years, and the power of the film too. I read the book and it showed how great a film they had made from a long, wordy, social tale. Recently re-watching the movie, it looked fresh and just as powerful as when I first saw it. Henry Fonda, John Carradine and especially Jane Darwell, give career heights performances and they add truthful weight to the characters. The story challenges the way we treat migrants and how we force them to be what we think they might be, in England we have a lot of this in recent times. All the character parts are effective, for example the caretaker of the government camp, who at last shows some understanding of the migrants problems and quietly helps them settle in. Unfortunately he is virtually the only kind soul the Joads meet on their journey. It is a solid drama, never adding any comedy or music to heighten the action, sticking truthfully to its source. I am sure Steinbeck was proud of this version.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A classic of the human condition

Author: jmcody from Adams, Oregon
8 January 2000

I think it is most ironic that independent filmmakers claim to despise "the Hollywood" film in favor of making "personal cinema" when one looks at the films of perhaps the most Hollywood sytem ingrained and yet stunningly personal films of John Ford.His films hold up because they display his personal love of character, land, place (there is a difference), time, honor, tradition and ritual. The Grapes of Wrath is one of his finest pictures. His obsessions and political leanings come to life in Steinbeck's haunting and searing narrative.I agree with many of the other IMDB reviewers, there is much in this film that is pure leftist propaganda and that Reifenstahl and Eisenstien's influence can be seen. This is certainly true in the masked stormtrooper bulldozer montage. But propaganda, like the very medium of film itself, operates on pure emotion. This film is loaded with one emotional image after another. The photography of Gregg Toland matches the best of Life magazine in its immediacy and realism, while at the same time dramatically recapturing the best of German Expressionism. There are so many frames that could stand as works of photographic art. The look of the film stands proudly next to the work of Benton, Hopper, O'Keefe, Capa, and Bourke-White as examples of American visual art.The cast is uniformly honest, sincere and utterly real in thier inhabitation of character. John Carradine, Russell Simpson, Jane Darwell, John Qualen and the great Charley Grapewin all give performances that are on the level with anything ever produced from a Actor's Studio graduate.Enough can not be possibly said about Henry Fonda's performance as Tom Joad. Simply put it is one of the finest characterizations ever captured on film. He was not just an American pop culture icon, he was a fine dramatic artist.The script captures much of the best of Steinbeck's novel with fantastically illuminating and human quotes. It preaches to be sure, but never at the expense of the narrative. This is a lesson so many "serious" film makers have yet to learn.The film has not dated in terms of its impact on the heart. Grapes of Wrath is about a specific time and place in American History yes, but it is also about what it means to be a human being. In that sense, it transcends nationalism and is fine work of World Literature. It is on equal with Citizen Kane as one of the finest films ever made. A 10 out of 10.

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