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

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Good Movie

Author: Kristin (Kristin-James Dean) from TN
3 July 2001

During the school year my teachers showed us the Grapes of Wrath about 5 times within a week! And of course a bunch of 13 year olds are going to get tired of it. But not me. I think Henry Fonda was a great actor. He played Tom Joad great. Seeing The Grapes of Wrath made me want to see more of his movies. This is a really good movie.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

good movie as an okie i understand it

Author: wally1301-2 from oklahoma city
19 April 2001

growing up in oklahoma in the 1930s just rt 66 i saw a lot of cars and trucks just like movie. we had a farm so we had food to eat, the joads were a good subject of the problems of the 1930s. it should be required viewing for todays i want it all world.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A poignant movie

Author: DynaMike from Quebec, Canada
30 May 2000

It's a classic. Henry Fonda is at his best and so is John Ford. They work very well together and show us what a great movie is all about. The movie is great, even if it have no special effects and a not so punching story. It's all about the acting and the way it goes trough your heart. It's a very poignant movie.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Amazing movie

Author: dave fitz ( from somerset, nj
7 May 2000

The Grapes of Wrath was the very best film of John Ford's long and legendary career. He was one of the top directors Hollywood has had. Henry Fonda gives one of the all-time best acting performances as Tom Joad, a role that made him a big star.

This movie is an amazing accomplishment, probably my favorite movie ever. The story, the acting, Ford's direction all flawless. The Grapes of Wrath would have to be considered among the very best films ever made.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Superb sociological, psychological and historical dissection of the American dustbowl during the 1930s.

Author: MovieMan-26 from Westfield, New Jersey
3 August 1998

John Ford's brilliant depiction of American life in the West during the Great Depression is a rare example of the movie being as good as the book ( "The Great Gatsby" and " A Tale of Two Cities" are among the few others), and that's saying something. Author Steinbeck always attempted to be a contributing part to movie adaptations of his work, and apparently was satisfied with Ford's rendition.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The Great American Novel

Author: Martin Bradley ( from Derry, Ireland
13 June 2008

Often cited as a prime example of 'The Great American Novel', John Stienbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" was hailed more for tackling unpalatable political truths at a time when the nation as a whole would rather have buried its head in the sand, than for its literary merits, though they are many. In filming the book in 1940 producer Darryl F Zanuck and director John Ford pulled no punches; even seventy years on this extraordinary film still has the power to shock as American moves ever closer to the possibility of recession: it is just as relevant today as it ever was.

It's about the Great Depression, essentially about the Oakies forced off their land, initially by nature itself, thereafter by the banks which took over their share-holdings, and about their migration to California. It's a bleak, harrowing film with no real happy ending. Speeches by Tom Joad and his mother about 'how he'll be there when ever there is a fight so hungry people can eat' or about how 'they can't lick us 'cause we're the people' may have the whiff of optimism but 'not licking us' isn't quite the same as putting bread on the table. Consequently, the film's success has largely been critical and while Ford and Jane Darwell won Oscars the film itself was overlooked in favour of "Rebecca", (an oversight rectified the following year when Ford's far inferior "How Green Was My Valley" won Best Picture).

In the hands of a lesser director it is unlikely the film would have been quite so grim. It's certainly not flawless; there is a penchant for Fordian sentimentality and the characters of Grandpa and Grandma never rise above caricature, but it's still remarkably faithful to Stienbeck's original and thanks, in the main, to Gregg Toland's superb black and white cinematography a good deal of it has the look of a documentary.

It is also very well acted. John Qualen's Muley is a beautifully etched study in despair and John Carradine has one of his best roles as 'The Preacher' who finds himself in the unlikely role of a union leader. At the centre, of course, are two great performances. Henry Fonda brings his gangly, liberal integrity to the part of Tom Joad which fits him like a glove while Darwell's stoic, Mother Courge of a Ma Joad rises above the sentimentality and the penchant for caricature into the realms of the truly tragic.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

one for the ages

Author: tsf-1962 from United States
21 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At first glance John Ford, a life-long conservative Republican, might seem an odd choice to direct the film of one of the most famous social protest novels in American history. The assignment was a success because Ford approached the novel more from the viewpoint of its human drama than its ideology. There simply isn't a more beautiful black and white film in the American canon. Gregg Toland's cinematography is exquisite; it's no wonder he went on to shoot "Citizen Kane" and "The Best Years of Our Lives." Except for the fact that it uses well-known stars instead of non-professional actors, "The Grapes of Wrath" has in embryonic form all the stylistic hallmarks of Italian neorealism. Henry Fonda gives the performance of his life as Tom Joad, and Jane Darwell won a well-deserved Oscar for her portrayal of Ma Joad, the eternally stoic earth mother who keeps the family together in the face of insurmountable odds. My favorite character, though, is the renegade preacher, Jim Casy, played by John Carradine at the height of his acting career before his eventual slide into grade-Z horror and exploitation movies. The film's depiction of the persecution and oppression the Oakies faced in their epic trek to California is especially relevant in connection with the plight of undocumented workers in present-day America.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Starkly realistic...

Author: Jem Odewahn from Australia
16 May 2006

...Well, as starkly realistic as Hollywood could get in the 1940's.

Ford's adaptation of Steinbeck's amazing social novel is terrific. The atmosphere of the source material is brilliantly maintained. The thing that impressed me most was that the film wasn't glossed over in the Hollywood studio-style. Yes, there are some omissions in the plot to comply with the Hayes Code, but it's still very dark and realistic. The hungry children rummaging through the waste piles for a sliver of food is shockingly compelling, as are the machines sent out to destroy the farmer's houses, crushing them easily as the onlookers watch in disbelief. It feels authentic.

Henry Fonda is perfectly cast as Tom Joad, the hero of the tale. Fonda's underplaying and sense of the 'everyman' suit his character perfectly. The supporting cast are terrific, and they are not glossed-over, either. Jane Darwell appears to have just jumped off the pages of Steinbeck's epic as Ma Joad. So many families made the journey from the Mid-West to California, the land of supposed 'milk and honey' (which the Joad's find out is not true), but the Joad's struggle feels very personal to us.

Very depressing in content- I had to watch this film in portions simply because it overwhelmed my emotions so completely. But the Great Depression was an awful event in America's history, and it's portrayed so accurately here. Students should watch this at school to realize how lucky they've got it now, and how dangerous it would be to fall into a recession once again (it would be different now, but still have the same effect on morale). This is draining to watch, but ultimately uplifting. Ford's direction is always convincing; Steinbeck's great work is in fine hands. The black-and-white photography emphasises the bleakness and realism.


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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

political drama

Author: RanchoTuVu from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
21 July 2005

Evicted from there land in Oklahoma, victimized by the double whammy of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, the Joad family loads up their dilapidated truck and makes the journey to California, joining thousands of others in the westward migration, seeking work as pickers in the California groves. John Ford doesn't let us forget what it's like to be destitute as the film details the belittling attitudes they endure at every stop along the way, eating away at whatever pride they have left. And when the torturous journey claims the life of Noah Joad (Frank Sully), the eldest of the family, his haunting and memorable burial along the side of the road provides one of the film's most riveting scenes. Clear social and economic distinctions, police brutality, Red baiting, blatant injustice, and the glimmer of hope offered by the New Deal are all mixed up to make this epic saga of an American family.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

An epic of the 1930's

Author: JSanicki
31 March 2003

As a film of the 1940's, the Grapes of Wrath does a wonderful thing. It shows us humanity in only the way that someone like John Ford could show it. Primarily known as a director of westerns, Ford helms this project with all the love and care you'd expect from someone entrusted with such a great and beloved work of American Literature.

Even seen as a bit dated, the film harkens back to a time in American History when the government was literally throwing people off their land just so they (the government) could have more and more room for agriculture and farming purposes. So, the Joad family like millions of other families in the midst of the Great Depression flees to California. They do this simply because they believe that work, not to mention a better life will be found there. However, once they arrive in California the Joads begin to see just how wrong they were with so many of their assumptions.

This has to be the definitive Henry Fonda film. Fonda plays Tom Joad with sort of an everyman type of quality. However, Fonda lost the Best Actor Oscar to James Stewart in The Philadelphia Story. The Grapes of Wrath received two statuettes that year, Best Supporting Actress for Jane Darwell's iconic portrayal of Ma Joad, the undeviating strength at the core of the Joad clan and Best Director for John Ford (his second Oscar after 1935's The Informer). The Grapes of Wrath was also nominated in the categories of Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Recording, losing in all three instances. The film lost Best Picture to Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca.

All in all, this is an important piece in a director's legacy of great films. John Ford would follow The Grapes of Wrath with Oscar wins for both 1941's How Green Was My Valley and 1952's The Quiet Man, not to mention what I consider his greatest film ever, 1956's The Searchers with John Wayne.

My rating: 2 and a half stars

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