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Although I normally hate black and white films. This had its educational purposes and highlighted many of the problems we face today. I would love to see this film remade with a present day twist and maybe some color. The actors sold the script and the filming added the drama to the film While everybody learned about the Great Depression and even California Migration resulting in the dust bowl in the Midwest. This movie teaches you what every day life was like for migrant workers. The abuses that ordinary citizens faced everyday just trying to provide food and shelter for their families. Big businesses were profiting millions of dollars while paying workers measly wages and providing no benefits or safety. The film does carry a political tone against big business and anti-regulators.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this movie for a class that I am taking. Had it not been for
the class I would have never watched but once I got into it I was
intrigue to learn something about the state that I used to live in.
The characters were cast great. Henry Ford did such an awesome job playing the conflicted Tom Joad, for a man that gets out of prison to discover that his family had last the land that they lived on for 50 years. Then to have to travel across country and lose members of their family along that way is tough.
Then for Tom to faced with more challenges when he just trying to help his family survive, this relates to everyday life as we see it.
The Grapes of Wrath is one of the two films I can thank for my love of
classic movies. When I was a kid I had enjoyed a few older films.
Mostly stuff like The Wizard of Oz and It's a Wonderful Life that I had
been weaned on from an early age. But, like most kids, I was far more
into the movies of my time. I viewed most older movies, especially
black & white ones, with a degree of contempt. However, that changed
when I was fourteen. That summer I checked out two older movies on VHS
from my local library. I had heard a lot about one of these movies
being called "the greatest movie of all time" and the other I knew was
based on a book that fourteen year-old me just wasn't about to
voluntarily read (although I did read it years later). So I took them
both home and watched them back to back, glued to the screen the whole
time. The two films were Citizen Kane and The Grapes of Wrath and I was
in love with classic movies from that point on. Interestingly enough,
both films had legendary cinematographer Gregg Toland working on them.
The Grapes of Wrath is a beautiful, haunting masterpiece from director John Ford, who deservedly won an Oscar. Nunnally Johnson's script brings John Steinbeck's novel to life but gives it a more optimistic finish. The cast is extraordinary, with Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell giving exemplary performances. It's a classic film in every sense of the word. To say I recommend it wouldn't be strong enough. This is just one of those films you HAVE to see.
If this isn't the finest and most moving depiction of the human tragedies that occurred during the Dust Bowl era, I don't know what is. Yet it is much more than that - it is simply one of the finest movies ever made. Better acting you will never see - and while it's arguably (a very young) Henry Fonda's very best film, Jane Darwell puts in a performance you will never forget (and you won't soon forget her final line - one of the most historic, moving and memorable final lines in all of movie history). You can't get a better story than one written by John Steinbeck, of course, and the stark cinematography blazes new territory and remains fresh to this day. Even the "lesser" character actors shine brightly here. Who will forget John Qualen's performance as Muley or John Carradine's performance as Casey? ...And that's just scratching the surface. Who doesn't fall in love with and care about the main characters, as they desperately try to survive the rigors of the Depression (and whom among us could withstand the horrors they went through)? This is a real story - one that every American needs to know; there is no exaggeration here. The inhumanity heaped upon the most defenseless during the Depression - as brought out in this film - is something few movies have brought out. This is the quintessential Dust Bowl and Depression film. The realism is incredible. The music helps move you to tears, too. The heroism so many of the characters display is not just moving - it speaks of a time when more people were truly noble. What a cast! What a story! What a film!
Born into wealth, it is hard to imagine how Steinbeck could portray poverty in such a personal way. If it is true that great writers write from what they know, it is astounding. Somewhere he possessed an old soul and a feel for real people and real times. East of Eden is another wonderful example of his understanding of pain and , most of all, of love. Henry Fonda was born to play this role. Why he did not win an Oscar for it is amazing. Attempts in later years to remake this epic movie, a waste. Leave perfection alone. Ma Joad, also, cannot, among today's actresses be redone. Perhaps Meryl Streep in another hundred pounds and 30 years. When choosing entertainment for young readers, this movie is one they should be required to see. Sadly, many English classes no longer have required reading. Watching this adaption of Steinbeck is the next best thing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" is today very much a literary
classic, but when this film came out in 1940 it was still a modern
best- seller, having been published only the previous year. It tells
the story of the Joad family, small tenant-farmers from Oklahoma, who
lose their home and livelihood to the twin disasters of the Dust Bowl
and the Great Depression of the early 1930s. Like many others in a
similar situation, they head to California, which they believe to be a
land of plenty and opportunity where they will be able to make a good
living as agricultural workers. When they arrive there, however, they
find that they have been misled. California, its population swelled by
thousands of migrant workers from other parts of America, already has a
surplus of labour. Unemployment is therefore high, work difficult to
find, wages low even when any work is to be found, and decent
The novel was a controversial one when it first appeared, largely because of the author's left-wing political opinions, which are clearly reflected in the text. It was perhaps an unusual choice for a movie to come out of Hollywood, an institution which was far less liberal in the thirties and forties than it is today, especially as it was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and directed by John Ford, both generally regarded as conservatives, or at least as far more conservative than Steinbeck. Zanuck did, however, have a reputation for occasionally making films with a social message- "Gentleman's Agreement" is another such- and the film does tone down the left-wing emphasis somewhat, removing Steinbeck's editorialising passages in which he comments directly on social conditions, and providing a happier, more optimistic ending. Nevertheless, there is still something socialist about the film, especially in the scenes set in the Government-run camp which imply that it is Big Government, not Big Business, which offers more hope to the little man.
Ford and Zanuck might not have been pleased to learn that their film was twice used by America's enemies to make anti-American propaganda. During the war Dr Goebbels used extracts from it, passing them off as genuine newsreels purporting to show that America under Roosevelt was a backward, poverty-stricken land. In 1948 it had a brief release in the Soviet Union, but was hastily withdrawn when the authorities realised that Russian audiences were drawing the "wrong" conclusions from it, namely that in America even the poorest people could afford a car, something which in the USSR was a privilege reserved for high-ranking Party officials.
Apart from drawing attention to social conditions during the Depression era, Steinbeck's book had two main themes, the relationship of man to the land and the importance of the family unit. The first of these is largely omitted from the film; it has been pointed out that, although the Joads are agricultural workers by trade, we never see them engaged in any agricultural work. The importance of the family, however, is something stressed in the film. The scenes in which the Joads' son Noah and their son-in-law Connie walk out on the family unit, while not omitted, are very much played down.
The main characters in the film are Tom, the family's eldest son, and its matriarch, Ma Joad. Both can be seen as symbolic of the American people and their struggle against hardship, although the ways in which they react to their plight are rather different. When we first see Tom he is a rather wild and angry young man, just released from prison after serving four years for killing a man in a brawl. In the course of the family's journey he learns to channel his anger and resentment into a quest for social justice and becomes a committed socialist, but ironically is forced to go on the run after killing another man while trying to protect a friend. While Tom reacts with socialism, his indomitable old mother reacts with a defiant stoicism and determination not to be beaten. To her are given the last words in the film:-
"We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out, they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, cos we're the people".
Jane Darwell, at 61, was probably rather older than the character imagined by Steinbeck. (The Joads' youngest children are still of primary school age). She gives, nevertheless, a compelling performance as the tough, determined Ma, one which won her an Oscar for "Best Supporting Actress". Henry Fonda as Tom is equally good, but he lost out on "Best Actor" to James Stewart in "The Philadelphia Story".
Darwell's was one of two Academy Awards won by the film, the other going to Ford as "Best Director". Ford's victory was controversial as he beat Alfred Hitchcock, whose "Rebecca" had taken the overall "Best Picture" award. Whatever the merits of that particular decision, however, "The Grapes of Wrath" is a fine film, and Ford's direction is one of the things that make it so. He was always a director with an eye for a striking image, something much in evidence here. His stark black-and- white photography is well suited to the film's social realism and unsparing look at the darker side of the American dream. Authors have not always been happy with film adaptations of their work, but apparently Steinbeck was delighted with this one, even though it is not always faithful to his storyline. That fact perhaps says more about the film than any critic ever could. 8/10
The Grapes of Wrath I believed that the picture was flat because of how the content was choreographed by John Ford. The negative element was that most of the sequences didn't have a strong substance. The black and white footage aggravated the situation; the reason was that the storyline was crumbling like breadcrumbs. As a consequence I lost fascination in the plot. Because of the terrible director the landscapes were matt with the colour. If it was Hitchcock motion picture the Black and White and the directing wouldn't of been an issue. In my opinion the soundtrack was rushing to the drains because of the instruments that were playing worthless chords. But on the other hand some of the camera angles captured quality moments for an example; far distance and sky view. The phycological element in the content was underneath the surface as John Ford's purpose. A few scenes of cinematography were impressive. I give John Ford's motion picture a 2 ½ /10
Those of us with families that go back to Oklahoma dust bowl days know that while this actual story may never have happened, it is a true story none the less. Our ancestors were called "Okies"-and were treated very closely to how blacks were/are treated and namecalled. We listen to our parents and grandparents and look at old pictures and just feel this movie. It deserves a ten because of how realistic and accurate a depiction it is, as well as the message it gets out. It's always fun to watch movies depicted historically accurate. Doesn't it stir up something instinctively Déjà vu in you even though you may have never been there? And it is amazing how similar human nature is even today as it was then.
Based on John Steinbeck's novel, this adaptation, brilliantly directed
by John Ford, stars Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, who returns to his home
after being released from prison on a "homicide" charge, discovering
that his family is being evicted by the bank, along with everyone else
in the area, because this is in the middle of the infamous Oklahoma
dust bowl, where a long drought proved devastating. The whole brood
gather in their old jalopy to travel(along with many others) to
California, where they hear there is work. The family, led by Ma
Joad(played by Jane Darwell) endure much tragedy and hardship on the
journey, which will end with disappointment upon arrival, though the
Joad spirit will continue on...
Outstanding film is one of Cinema's true masterpieces, with perfect performances from all, especially Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell, who are unforgettable and entirely believable as much put-upon people who nonetheless endure, though they will have to sadly part ways to do so. Direction by John Ford is highly atmospheric and haunting, and he well-deserved his Academy Award, though the film should have itself won that honor in 1940. The script could not be better, and is still quite moving, truthful and intelligent.
It still stands the test of time, and its themes of family unity and hardship amidst exploitation and loss are still relevant today. Not to be missed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Grapes of Wrath is a great,gripping film about an Oklahoma family that lose their farm and,using what little means they have left,reluctantly leave their long time homestead and head west to seek a return to prosperity.Along the long journey,they endure death,sickness,hunger,and nearly go down to defeat,but endure.The cast is spearheaded by the strong presence of Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell.The film really goes after the viewers' emotions.To beat an old cliché to death,"you'll laugh,you'll cry...".The emotional goodbye between mother and son at the end was among the most heart wrenching I have ever seen.I liked it.Can you tell?
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