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John Ford's 1940 classic, based on the novel of the same name by John
Steinbeck, is a great story showing the hardships farmers went through
during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, heading for the promise land of
California, but not without some trouble along the way.
I really enjoyed the performances (especially Henry Fonda's role as Tod, making him one of my favorite actors), the music was helpful in setting the mood, and the gritty cinematography made it look almost like a horror film since it dealt with human hardships. I'm glad that Mr. Ford won the Best Director Oscar, as well as the actress Jane Darwell, who played Mrs. Joed (she was the bird woman from Disney's Mary Poppins), receiving an Oscar too.
This film truly is a masterpiece, and one of the best films of the 1940s; give it a watch, and you won't be disappointed at all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From Oscar winning director John Ford (My Darling Clementine, The Quiet Man, Mister Roberts, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), based on the book by John Steinbeck, this was a film from the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die that I was really going to try and focus on. Basically Tom Joad (Oscar nominated Henry Fonda) has returned home after serving four years in prison for killing a man, and he is joined on his journey by faithless former preacher Casy (John Carradine), and together they find the farm deserted. Tom finds his family who tell him that they were evicted, and the extended family of eight have to pack their things and set on the road to California, and there they hope to find work. The Grandpa (Charley Grapewin) dies from a stroke along the way on Route 66, and they have no choice but to bury his body on a roadside, and after being warned about the lack of jobs at their destination, Grandma (Zeffie Tilbury) dies also before they reach the border. They soon find a travelling camp populated by children, and a man and the sheriff do come offering the family members work, but with no indication of what the salary is, this man with the sheriff is trouble apparently. The sheriff killed the man, and Tom knocked out the sheriff before getting away, and the rest of the family keep travelling until the find a farm that needs workers, but it is suspicious for being surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. They earn very little money when they accept a job picking pears, and Tom walking around comes across Casy again who is planning a strike with fellow labourers, but then thugs kill Casy and gash Tom. The family move on again and find a US government camp which has much better living conditions, such as toilets and showers, but they are wary of thugs coming and need the sheriff to take control. Tom must go away because the sheriff is looking for him, and he leaves his mother, Ma Joad (Oscar winning Jane Darwell), thinking that she won't see him again, but she is hopeful about the future heading for work in the north. Also starring Dorris Bowdon as Rose-of-Sharon 'Rosasharn' Rivers, Russell Simpson as Pa Joad, O.Z. Whitehead as Al and John Qualen as Muley. Fonda is alright as the one who almost leads the family, and Darwell is indeed intriguing as the mother of the family who is tries to keep spirits up. I will be honest, I didn't really pay enough attention to or understand the plot, and I didn't really understand the leading character's heroism, I'd probably only see it the once, but there are some good moments, costumes and landscapes to just about keep you watching, a reasonably worthwhile classic period drama. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Writing, Screenplay. Tom Joad was number 12 on 100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains, the film was number 21 on 100 Years, 100 Movies, and it was number 7 on 100 Years, 100 Cheers. Very good!
IMDb Top 250: 156
I can't think of too many films that show the hardships of the Depression off the top of my head, but surely The Grapes of Wrath (what an intriguing title) weighs equally to the entirety of all others. Based on a novel I haven't read, 'Grapes' follows the Joad family leaving to find work in California with their recently returned son and finding misery. This is a heavy film, a depression in a Depression.
I was excited by the prospect of seeing a John Ford film, because I associate him with two major things: beautiful cinematography and 'full' films, filled with themes and symbolism. I got the first one: dark, black and white photography, with breathtaking long shots and silhouettes, and faces appearing in darkness. The second was still there, but not as plentifully as his later films. However this is an adaptation, and thus Ford's leeway was quite constricted, plot and theme wise.
A film this bleak, with such a feeling of desperation (the wind sounds are chilling) needs desperate performances, and 'Grapes' delivers. Fantastic acting. Henry Fonda is just- wow. I recently saw The Philadelphia Story, and I can say Fonda's performance is far more deserving than Stewart's Oscar winning role. Tom Joad is hot-tempered yet caring: walking the fine line between cool and volatile. Fonda perfects the role and elevates the entire film with his honest performance. He is backed up by solid support, like Ma Joad and Casy. The Joad family is large, and we don't get to really meet most of them. I'm sure the book fleshes the characters out more, but I can only remember the names of Tom, Ma, Pa, and Roseasharon (?) Joad.
Like All Quiet on the Western Front, 'Grapes' teaches a solid history lesson. We see the 'Okies' plight in the Dustbowl, their trip across the country with everything in one truck, and their subsequent hardships faced in California by people who don't want them stealing jobs they need too. This story is told with good flow and a strong pace- no scene feels rushed, and no scene feels overdone.
Mood is another of The Grapes of Wrath's strength. There's a very post- apocalyptic feeling about it- the scramble to ensure their families survival against everyone else. We see a form of society breakdown, where people can only fend for themselves. The major conflict is hard to describe, as everything goes wrong for the Joads. Nature, other people (but no singular antagonist) and it would even seem God wants the Joads to fail. So when the dance scene comes, it's one of the biggest sighs of relief I've experienced watching films.
The Grapes of Wrath is a really bleak film with a really strong lead. It's a remarkably important film, in league with Gone With the Wind, and should be seen for that reason alone- something numbers cannot tell you. It's a story about the injustices done by the rich fat cats at the expense of the poor, and more personally a story of human resilience: that we can overcome lots, but not everything. It's certainly humbling- things can get better but they can also get worse. 8.3/10
I got my orders, it ain't up to me, I didn't set the price, take it or
leave it. We are confronted with an economic system that suppresses
downwards; nobody is held responsible. It even seems that "nobody"
doesn't even exist.
This is a story about how ordinary citizens, mainly farmers, gets affected by the big depression. We follow the Joad family who out of desperation tries to find a job in California. When they arrive at "the promised land" they quickly find out that life is hard to maintain. The jobs are difficult to find and when they find one the wages are an insult. Throughout the movie there is a constant battle to sustain the basic needs such as food and shelter. Despite this fight and the competition for the jobs the workers shows solidarity with each other but cannot use this to get proper organized even though a few tries (the story could be seen as a predecessor to "In Dubious battle" where the struggle to get the workers organized continuous).
The Joad family are very poor given the circumstances but nonetheless they are looked down upon and stigmatized; being poor equals being subhuman; An Okie. If they ask questions or making a statement in front of a policeman or guard they are threatened to loose their job or getting the label "agitator".
Only in one place do they find themselves at home; in the government camp. It is a society in its own that is a safe heaven. It is built on democratic principles and is looked upon as a threat by the big corporations who actively tries to destroy such. Democracy with it laws that regulates employer/employee relationship is a threat to maximum profit.
The movie is shot in Black and white, the men are lean and the dialogue is very direct and without polite manners. You sense that the farmers doesn't talk this way because of hostility but simply because it is part of their cultural identity. The dialogue is in many cases taken right out of the book. That doesn't make it a lesser movie; it is hard if not to say impossible to compete with Steinbecks sharp pen. It may be a challenge to sense the affection in the Joad family but is there although it is not expressed overtly.
In comparison the movie adaptation has a stronger focus than the more than 500 pages book had and therefore some of the characters didn't unfold enough to be understood properly. The ending is different but I think I understand the choice to let the movie finish off in a more bearable way.
The part of the story where the Joads arrive at a farm full of guards, to harvest peaches scared the hell out of me in the book but not so much in the movie. It felt like the Joads where held in a combined prison/zoo and the choice they had to leave wasn't a real choice; it was a choice between annihilation or accept gruesome and absurd life conditions.
The movie didn't dwell so much. It didn't stay so much with the important details that showed the reason to be desperate. How much can I get for a nickel? How much do I earn when I harvest a basket full of peaches? How much food can I buy for a day's work? Can I save money for the rainy days? Seems like boring details but to me these kind of never ceasing thoughts must have been a large part of being affected by the depression.
Steinbeck writes the story with anger. You sense that he is furious; this is a piece of fiction that was needed, that had to come and thank goodness Steinbeck took it upon himself to put into words what was going on during the depression.
The farmers are the 99% who tries to do what is expected of them. There is a growing sense of who the 1% are and of course you can draw a parallel to the depression of today and the need to organize and criticize the financial system via the "occupy wall street" movement.
It's amazing how hopeless and bleak a film from the golden age of
Hollywood can be. Films from this era always seem to be overzealous and
excessively joyous. They have that electrifying Hollywood feel to them.
Not The Grapes of Wrath however. This is a film that gives the world a
reality check and tells a story dealing with the darker and more
troubling side of life. It tells the story of an impoverished family
moving from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl to California in hopes of finding
work. However, the difficult trip takes its toll on them and when they
arrive to find significantly less work than they hoped for things
become even more difficult. It is the harrowing story of struggle and
survival, as well as overcoming adversity with love and family, two
themes that drive this film. It's an epic production to watch unfold,
and it will leave you feeling so lost, so empty, and yet so amazed.
It might not seem like it, but this really was what pushing the enveloped in 1940's Hollywood. To tell a story this challenging and this difficult to absorb was something rarely seen in this glimmering time period of cinema. Yet, it really gave way to revealing the impact that dark cinema can have on an audience. The bleakness of the film is what makes it absolutely gripping and endlessly compelling. It is such a harrowing story and one that constantly makes us want to know what is coming next. It strikes all the right emotional chords and plays out to be a magnificent experience. Add in incredible performances, a compelling script, and John Ford's direction and darkly moving cinematography and you've got yourself a true work of genius.
By today's standards The Grapes of Wrath doesn't seem all that depressing or difficult to watch, but if you look at in context you realize the impact of the film. This is why I give this film so much praise for being a true pioneer film in the ever changing world of cinema. The Grapes of Wrath isn't fantastic enough to compel me to call in one of my personal favorites, but I have undying respect for it's quality and the important mark it left on Hollywood.
"The Grapes of Wrath," is a very well known film based upon the conditions and hardships of the Great Depression. I found it to be very interesting that I could actually tell that some scenes were filmed on a sound stage. The sound gave it away. I noticed that in a scene where Tom and the former preacher were walking "outside" that when they talked, I could hear their voices echoing. I never have been able to really distinguish between on-scene location and on stage. But, in this movie, surprisingly I was able to because of the echoing. But, the lighting in that scene is awesome! It really captures that its later in the day, going on evening, and there is a storm coming. The camera work is pretty basic. The natural lighting of the candle as Tom, the preacher and Yulie are talking emphasizes the conversation they are all having. Good plot, basic filming, interesting light and the sound in some scenes is not synchronized or recorded right in relation to the location/set.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Where to even begin? I watched this film for a history of cinema class, and I have to say that all of the films I have viewed of late, this one is by far the best to date. All the performances are stellar, obviously to include Henry Fonda's Oscar nominated performance as the films main character, Tom Joad. While I have never read Steinbeck's novel of the same title, after viewing this film i will certainly put it on my to do list. This film seems, almost effortlessly, to perfectly capture and showcase the harsh conditions of the 1930's during the dust-bowl. Many aspects of this film were extremely well done and worth mentioning. The outstanding performances of the actors aside, the scenery, story telling, and overall misc-en-sene of the film is great. At no point did this film fail to keep my interest, as the characters in the story, although clearly in no way similar to my personal life's story, are truly relate able to the audience. As a viewer, you feel for the plight of the Joad family on their endless journey just to find work and some small semblance of creature comfort. Additionally, the harsh and severe treatment that the travelers as a whole experience at the hands of both law enforcement and local farm security made me nothing short of incensed. To be sure, during the scene in which Tom's friend is killed on the river, I found myself almost in shock, for I did not in any way see that action on the horizon. However, I think it , the killing and general treatment of the migrants that is, stands as a testament to what life must have truly been like at that dark time in American history. Furthermore, the fact that such blatantly gross abuse of power was allowed to persist speaks volumes to the wanton disregard that so many must have had for those that were unemployed. This is truly sad when you think about it; Most of the families that were traveling hundreds upon hundreds of miles at the cost of even further famine and illness only wanted work and some food to eat, and were met with admonishment and disregard. That is truly appalling. But I digress. The Grapes of Wrath is an excellent film that in its time served as a call to action for all those who wished to take a stand against the abuse and mistreatment of others. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and would recommend it to others wishing to glean some knowledge about a oft-forgot time in American History.
"Tom Joad" (Henry Fonda) returns home after serving time in prison, but
the illusion of seeing his family turns into frustration at how evicted
from their land. Fleeing poverty, embark on a journey full of hardships
in the hope of finding an opportunity in California, the promised land.
Great Ford film, that leads to film a Steinbeck novel. There are no great heroes who changed the world, because they exist in the novel (or in reality) so this film so close and we see today.
The only real and unchanging is the suffering people. And Ford is right to address the full hard, making films of sentiment, and not as syrupy finish. That's why a work becomes formally Marxist (novel) characters, then yes, alienated, in a film humanist, which reaches around the world, with people who despite all the grief, have not yet lost their humanity and dignity of people. So do not try to change anything. They just want to be happy and live in peace.
Can not be displayed more hardship and misery of the American depression. Because although it was easier and more comfortable to cry in Ford used the characters, the option to show only the courage and dignity with which these wretched of the earth will blow after fitting gives the film a halo epic. And although the words spoken by mythical "Tom" (Henry Fonda) and his mother (Jane Darwell) do nothing but emphasize deep rather than the film itself and distilled by itself.
So "The Grapes of Wrath" is a masterpiece of life. Only by addressing the issue and how it does this is mandatory viewing. It's directed by John Ford, as always, excellent. The "icing on the cake" is Henry Fonda in one of the best work of his career.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Grapes of wrath is a film based on the novel written by John
Steinbeck. The film follows a family westward as an exodus of lower
class families are forced out of work and their homes due to the firm
hand of "the man."
While several cinematography elements used within the film, such as the use of black as white as well as some camera tricks, elevated the 'run down' feeling of the Joad family it is my feeling that although the film was an homage to the novel it did not capture the intended thesis of Steinbeck.
Throughout the plight of the Joad family the movie focuses simply on the obstacles and hard times that only the Joads had to encounter. I feel the lack of the strong sense of a community in the film really detracted from the moral of the book. The book has a strong lesson of the "I" becomes "we", whereas the film lacks the sort of artistic ability to really capture that phenomenon. The film puts forth a plot of the Joads against the world and the most important and striking part of the book was realization that a community of perfect strangers had come together, bonding over their nothingness and had become a greater 'fambly' of their own; a unit to reckon with.
It is because the Director's cut of the film failed to bring to screen Steinbeck's message of the human nature: of a people coming together when they have no means of living and yet there they are - still fighting the silent fight.
While the film has an impressive cast of actors and several other noteworthy aspects of the film which are quite beautiful when speaking the film in parallel with novel, the film has fallen short. This could justly be because of the times period and other circumstances but in short while this film pays homage to this timeless literary work the film is due for a remake with the world being in a place where one is not fearful to expose the truth. To truly honor Steinbeck's work this must be done.
A revisiting of this movie merely confirms what is already established
as fact: that this movie is great. It's grim story about people
struggling to survive. That these conditions existed in the United
States is a disgrace. To be thrown off the land is bad enough, but then
to be humiliated compounds the injustice. The story is told in the form
of semi-documentary which gives it further authenticity. The movie is
about land. People own it, farm it, exploit it, divide it, fight for
it, defend it, plow it, drive over it, drive through it. The people are
transiting; the land stays. Tom Joad enters and Tom Joad exits; he is a
metaphor for the transitory nature of existence. The only thing stable
is the land. Ma Joad is trying to keep the family together but it's a
losing battle. Only the will to survive gets them through. This movie
is an incredibly powerful story, strongly acted, and told with candor.
The Grapes of Wrath is director John Ford's homage to nature and a warning to all - that nature, in the form of rough terrain, inclement weather and immense distances, can be lethal to humans. In this movie the land is more than just mere scenery, more than just a back drop for a story, more than just a passing reference, it is an integral player, indeed it is the story itself. Briefly, the movie is about a family, the Joads of Oklahoma, who, after being evicted from their farm during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, become homeless and, in quest of work and a more secure place to live, embark on a long journey through prairie and desert to California. For them, California is the proverbial land of milk and honey and holds for them a promise of a new and better life, much like the ancient Hebrews may have felt when they left Egypt in quest for their promised land. As the Joads travel west in the their broken-down jalopy they are dwarfed by the sheer immensity of the landscape. The movie features several panoramic vistas of the rugged western landscape, prairie and desert, geographical barriers that the Joads must surmount to reach their goal and places where they can die. For the land is not friendly and benign; instead it is a source of contention and a cause for grief, such as that visited upon the Joads as they lose their homes and possessions and are forced to migrate in order to survive. The Joads' vulnerability is further reinforced by the distances they must travel and the stress caused by the move itself. Two members of the family die while on the road and another disappears; nothing is close by. Driving many miles means having to deal with the possibility of their truck breaking down en route and becoming stuck in the middle of nowhere. And like the land itself, the people encountered by the Joads on their journey are surly and begrudging at best. The message is unmistakable. Nature can crush us at any time and must be respected for what it is, an all-encompassing, awesome, stark entity that is both life giving and deadly, especially when ignored, as the Joads learned as the "wind" destroyed their lives, perhaps as a pay back for the way the land was abused. And when the Joads finally arrive in California, reality quickly sets in and with it comes more trouble and disappointment, all of this having to do with the land, which again poses a threat to the Joads' survival. The story ends with Tom Joad, who is in trouble with the law, shown trekking across the land and the rest of family again on the move as they continue to seek work. The foreboding mood that permeates this movie is further enhanced by the black-and-white photography that further brings out the stark emptiness and vastness of the land. This movie is a dramatic statement that warns the audience that human kind must be cognizant of the whims of nature for nature is something that cannot be ignored or trifled with. In the 1930s people did not treat the land with respect and the land responded in kind. That the Joads got caught up with that is the stuff for a dramatic story but nature itself is beyond our ability to control as so aptly shown in this movie. We build dams and they inevitably fail. We build dikes to keep out the ocean yet we still have floods. We build huge ships that sink. We build airplanes and rockets that crash. We build mighty bridges and buildings and they collapse. And in Grapes of Wrath, we farm the land and the soil turns into dust. And THAT is the story.
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