A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

Director:

John Ford

Writers:

Nunnally Johnson (screen play), John Steinbeck (based on the novel by)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 8 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Fonda ... Tom Joad
Jane Darwell ... Ma Joad
John Carradine ... Jim Casy
Charley Grapewin ... Grandpa Joad
Dorris Bowdon ... Rosasharn Rivers
Russell Simpson ... Pa Joad
O.Z. Whitehead ... Al Joad
John Qualen ... Muley Bates
Eddie Quillan ... Connie Rivers
Zeffie Tilbury ... Grandma Joad
Frank Sully ... Noah Joad
Frank Darien ... Uncle John Joad
Darryl Hickman ... Winfield Joad
Shirley Mills ... Ruthie Joad
Roger Imhof ... Thomas
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Storyline

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 Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The thousands who have read the book will know why WE WILL NOT SELL ANY CHILDREN TICKETS to see this picture! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Ma Joad: 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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Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Father Knows Best: The Gardener's Big Day (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

Going Down the Road Feeling Bad
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played on guitar and Sung by Eddie Quillan
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User Reviews

 
Not the Book, But Beautiful in Its Own Right
10 February 2006 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

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.

Grade: A


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 March 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Highway 66 See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$800,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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