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 film was one of the first to be voted onto the National Film Registry (1989). See more »
When Pa Joad and Tom are talking about how they got some money to go on the trip, poor Uncle John carries the bed spring out the door three times. See more »
[At 1:18:50 into the movie, Tom Joad pulls off the road to change the left front tire. Jane Darwell gets out of the truck and sits on the front bumper. As Tom begins to get under the truck to jack the truck up, he says to Jane,]
"Ma, will you get the hell off'a there! It's gonna be heavy enough..." That somehow passed the Board of Review censors.
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They say that you should wait 20 or 30 years before attempting to capture an historical event on film. That is why it was remarkable that Oliver Stone was able to capture the "feel" of Viet Nam (in "Platoon") so soon (13 years) after America's withdrawal. Usually, an honest perspective takes more time to develop.
But, when you consider that John Steinbeck and John Ford needed less than ten years to bring the 1932 "dust bowl" to life, you really have to admire their magnificent achievement.
Of course, in 1940, Ford could not film much of the graphic squalor described in the novel. For example, the film cannot show a starving hobo suckling at the breast of a young Rose of Sharon, who has milk to spare following the death of her baby. But, far from degradation, Rose of Sharon's gesture is a reflection of the goodness that resides within her, and that quality is well illustrated in the character development seen on the screen. Tom Joad may be an ex-con, but he is a good man.
One of the commentaries (below) uses this film to rant about the exploitation in today's society. That completely misses the point. Ford, who was as conservative as anyone in Hollywood, even more conservative than John Wayne, used this movie to show that Man can triumph, despite the natural and human barriers that are put in his way.
This is ultimately a movie about hope and the human spirit.
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