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
Henry Fonda, still struggling to became a big Hollywood star, tried to avoid being a contract player for 20th Century-Fox because he wanted the ability to independently choose his own projects (an increasing number of stars at the time were trying to gain such independence). But when the much-coveted part of Tom Joad was offered to him, Fonda hesitantly gave in and signed a contract to work with the studio for seven years because he knew it would be the role of a lifetime. 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 »
Well, Pa, a woman can change better'n a man. A man lives sorta - well, in jerks. Baby's born or somebody dies, and that's a jerk. He gets a farm or loses it, and that's a jerk. With a woman, it's all in one flow, like a stream - little eddies and waterfalls - but the river, it goes right on. Woman looks at it thata way.
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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 »
Going Down the Road Feeling Bad
Played on guitar and Sung by Eddie Quillan See more »
Not the Book, But Beautiful in Its Own Right
It's difficult on a first viewing of "The Grapes of Wrath" not to be somewhat disappointed with it. So much of Steinbeck's beautiful novel is left out of the film, and it's hard to see his story and characters wedged into the "gee whizz" style of film-making so prevalent at the time. But once you get beyond a comparison of the movie to the book, you begin to realize that John Ford created a beautiful piece of work of his own, and the film inspires a great deal of admiration, and deserves credit for its gutsiness at tackling a story that wouldn't have gone down smoothly with film executives at the time.
Of course the most controversial parts of the book are left out (like its final image, for example), but Ford still managed to work around the constraints forced upon him to fashion a hard-biting film. Henry Fonda is perfect casting for Tom Joad--never have his otherworldly eyes been used to greater effect. And Jane Darwell is pitch-perfect as Ma Joad--she captures the tough-as-nails dignity that the character has in the novel. The whole movie is lit by expert cinematographer Gregg Toland, who uses shadow and reflection to cast a ghostly pall over everything. Indeed, much of what Ford wasn't able to include in the film as words he communicates instead through images, and isn't that what a good book-to-film adaptation should do? One of those films that feels ahead of its time.
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