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


John Ford


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





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


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


The most discussed book in years - now comes to the screen to become the most discussed picture in ages See more »


Drama | History


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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The production had a fake working title, "Highway 66", so that the shoot of the controversial novel would not be affected by union problems. Much of the dire straits portrayed in the film continued during and after the release of the movie. See more »


When the Joads stop and ask for a loaf of bread and the waitress says they only have 15 cent loaves and the owner/cook tells her to let them have it she tells them to go ahead "Fred says it is okay". Later as the truck drivers leave leaving their change because she was so nice and sold 2 pieces of candy that cost 5 cents each for a penny when she saw the kids, she calls him Bert. See more »


Casy: You don' know what you're a-doin'.
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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 »


Referenced in Froutopia: Ziteitai protagonistria (1985) See more »


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

Everyone should see Grapes of Wrath and be thankful for what they have!
16 April 2018 | by inkblot11See all my reviews

In rural Oklahoma, Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) is walking and hitchhiking home from prison, after a stay of four years. After taking a knife at a dance, Tom hit the attacker with a pan, killing him. Nevermind that it was self-defense, Tom still gets sent to prison. He hasn't heard from his parents, Ma (Jane Darwell) or Pa because they aren't the "writing types". A fierce dust storm makes Tom's final few steps treacherous. Arriving back at their small cabin, where his family are sharecroppers, Tom and his passing friend, Casy (John Carradine) are startled to find no one at home. A shell-shocked neighbor informs the other two that the family has been kicked off their land in foreclosure. They are nearby at Uncle John's house, where his family is about to suffer the same fate. Its the Depression and the Dust Bowl has ruined the land, taking off the top soil; no one can grow crops. When Tom catches up with his Ma and company, they are overjoyed to see him, for their plans are to pack a truck and move to California, where handbills show pickers are needed. Grandpa doesn't want to leave the only home he has ever known, so they drug him with medicine and haul him along. Now on the Mother Road, route 66, the journey is difficult; the truck breaks down frequently, no one wants them to stay long anywhere they rest, and Grandpa dies of a stroke. Will California really be the Golden, Promised Land? NOT ON YOUR LIFE! This heartbreaking adaptation of Steinbeck's classic is a must-see for the whole wide world. This family of hard-working folks has one calamity after another, just trying to earn an honest and living wage. Those who lived in the Dust Bowl part of the country were hit especially hard, as the soil had been overworked and winds took the topsoil off, creating damaging storms to crops, humans, and animals. No better were the "lies" of the handbills, advertisements that migrants were needed in California, where over 300,000 poor helpless folks showed up for very few jobs. The cast, with Fonda at the helm, is wonderful as is the scenery, costumes, and careful direction to show the truth of a desperate situation. Wanna get down on your knees and thank the Lord for what you have, Americans? You will when you view this amazing film!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

15 March 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Highway 66 See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$800,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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