The Joad clan, introduced to the world in John Steinbeck's iconic novel, is looking for a better life in California. After their drought-ridden farm is seized by the bank, the family -- led by just-paroled son Tom -- loads up a truck and heads West. On the road, beset by hardships, the Joads meet dozens of other families making the same trek and holding onto the same dream. Once in California, however, the Joads soon realize that the promised land isn't quite what they hoped.Written by
The world premiere showing occurred at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City on 24 January 1940 with Darryl Zanuck in attendance. (Albany (NY) Times-Union, 10 January 1940) See more »
When Casy and Tom are walking along the road towards the Joads' old farm, their shadows can be seen on the painted backdrop behind them. Also you can hear the reverberation caused by the film stage when they speak. See more »
International distributions (e.g. UK) have a short ~30 second prologue at the beginning to explain the historical context to the story to touch on the socio-economic problems in the US which arose during the Great Depression and the concurrent Dust Bowl. See more »
Red River Valley
Played during the opening credits and often in the score
Sung by Henry Fonda at the dance See more »
Fine Cast & Production
This classic adaptation of "The Grapes of Wrath" features a fine cast as well as a skillful production headed by director John Ford. Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell are well-remembered for their roles, which are among the defining roles in their careers. The only limitations that it has come from the original novel, with its heartfelt but sometimes contrived story.
Besides Fonda and Darwell, the supporting cast features plenty of good supporting players, including Charley Grapewin and John Carradine. All of them make their characters come alive believably. They also fit together well and complement one another's performances, which accentuates the themes involved in the struggles of the Joad family.
For all that the Steinbeck novel is so revered, and for all that his story is an often compelling depiction of its characters, with whom many in the era could identify, it would have been better if it had not been so heavy-handed. Even given that the times were bad, more balance in the characters outside of the family, and in the Joads' experiences, would have made it an even better story. Certainly, this is barely even noticeable when compared with the stories in many present-day movies and novels, which often dispense with any attempts at plausibility.
And that does not stop this adaptation from being a worthwhile and often moving film. Ford clearly appreciated the potential in the material, and he and the cast work together to make each character count, and to give meaning to each scene.
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