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The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Classics movie directed by John Ford

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A classic in every sense of the word

  • Apr 2, 2011
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The Grapes of Wrath is set in Oklahoma around the thirties, during the dust bowl and the great depression. The film begins with our tale's hero, Tom Joad (Henry Fonda), just being released from jail, and heading home to find his family. Once he gets there he only finds an old beat up house, and he is informed that his family is fixing to leave for California. They all have a happy reunion right before Tom and the rest of the family depart for California; However, once the Joad family reaches California they realize that it may not be near as pleasant as they had imagined, and now they must try and make a living off of very little work. And with things looking bad for the Joad family, having almost no food on the dinner table every night, they will have to do everything they can to just remain alive in these dark times.

The Grapes of Wrath is one of the greatest, if not greatest, american films ever made. And it is one of my personal favorite films of all time. I have put off reviewing for awhile for whatever reasons, and now I am going to finally write it. The story to this film was for the most part amazing. For those of us that live in today's time, the great depression is only something that we learn about in history books, so for some this film may not be quite as pwerful as it is for others. But for anyone that actually lived in the depression, or has known people that have, it is is easier to understand the importance of this film, and the book by John Steinbeck. It is really sad, but true, that life was once this way, and this is both an educational and meaningful film about how life used to be in America. The Grapes of Wrath, both film and book, truly capture the real horrors of the great depression, and that is one of the reasons I love this film so much. It is as important of a film to this country as To Kill a Mockingbird is, and in my opinion that is saying something. The Grapes of Wrath is hands down for me one of the best film adaptions of a book. I know a lot of these types of fims get critcism for not being like the book, but I feel that even people who enjoyed the book, will also enjoy this film.

Seeing as The Grapes of Wrath was directing by the great John Ford, I do not think the film's success will come as a surprise to many people. John Ford was one of the finest directors to ever walk this earth, though I don't think you will see him at the top of many people's favorite list, no one can deny some of the great film making he did over his career. He was a brilliant man who had an absolutely brilliant career. And when he filmed The Grapes of Wrath he did one of the most difficult things a director can do, and that is take a book and make a movie out of it. Not only that, but he made it just as good, or better than the book, and that takes talent. John Ford's direction in this film is absolute perfection. He takes what could be a very boring story, about a large counrty family moving to California, and he turns it into what is what I believe to be one of the greatest stories ever told. Filled with some of the best characters in film history. Especially Tom Joad and Ma Joad.

The acting was superb. Henry Fonda gives what may be his career performance in this film. He plays the main character in the film, Tom Joad, and he does it perfectly. He may not have won best actor for the performance, but he was still nothing short of excellent. Henry Fonda is one of my all time favorite actors, and he deservedly was given the Honorary Award. Though not to take anything away from his performance, as brilliant as it was Henry Fonda's acting was not my favorite in this film. Jane Darwell stole the show here. She did not have all too great of a career, but I do not think there is another actress in this world that could have played the part of Ma Joad better then Jane Darwell did in this film. It would have been wrong to give anyone else the Oscar. Words cannot describe how meaningful, and incredible her performance was in this film. And really all around everyone did a good job acting in this film.

Overall, The Grapes of Wrath is a true masterpiece. Not many films have been made that I can say I felt were better than this one. This is the true meaning of film making right here. Absolutely perfect acting, it does not get much better than this, and the cast was great as well. I enjoyed everyone's performances in this film, and I can't say that for too many movies, especially nowadays. The direction by John Ford is not to be missed, and as magnificant of a career as he had, The Grapes of Wrath is probably the greatest film he ever released. And even for an old classic the music was actually enjoyable in this film. Movies just do not get much better than this, if you are a movie fan at all, The Grapes of Wrath is for you.

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April 02, 2011
Ditto the Scotman. A fine review. I still am a little surprised that the movie was ever made. Zanuck was a surprisingly complex mogul. The ending in the book with Rose of Sharon and Ma was wrenching yet hopeful. I guess Zanuck felt he'd lose that one to the censors. He was probably right.
April 04, 2011
Yeah, that is probably true. Thanks for reading!
More The Grapes of Wrath (1940) reviews
Quick Tip by . August 10, 2010
I would give this movie a ten if there were that many stars. Henry Fonda was a great actor and perfect in this role. (Sorry to say I missed the other movies based on Steinbeck's books and missed reading some of his classics too. B xo
review by . January 22, 2007
"Rich fellas come up an' they die, an' their kids ain't no good an' they die out. But we keep a'comin'. We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out; they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people."     The history of the Dustbowl Era is one that looms large in the minds of most of my family. The mere fact that some of us were born in Washington to people that came from Kansas and Oklahoma explains volumes about what it must've been like in those places …
review by . January 26, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Good adaptation of Steinbeck's superb novel. The Joad family were farmers in Oklahoma (referred to as Okies) during the "Dust Bowl" years when drought caused a lot of farmers to lose everything.     There are promised work in California and pack up their dilapadated truck with their family including the grandmother (I wonder if the idea for The Beverly Hillbillies came from this) and have a grueling trip there. When they arrive they are treated like "slaves," not even paid enough …
About the reviewer
Matt Stewart ()
Ranked #223
Basically all anyone would need to know about me is I love movies. I watch movies, review them, and I can always enjoy a good, long talk about the art of film making.
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Ranking No. 21 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest American films, this 1940 classic is a bit dated in its noble sentimentality, but it remains a luminous example of Hollywood classicism from the peerless director of mythic Americana, John Ford. Adapted by Nunnally Johnson from John Steinbeck's classic novel, the film tells a simple story about Oklahoma farmers leaving the depression-era dustbowl for the promised land of California, but it's the story's emotional resonance and theme of human perseverance that makes the movie so richly and timelessly rewarding. It's all about the humble Joad family's cross-country trek to escape the economic devastation of their ruined farmland, beginning when Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) returns from a four-year prison term to discover that his family home is empty. He's reunited with his family just as they're setting out for the westbound journey, and thus begins an odyssey of saddening losses and strengthening hopes. As Ma Joad, Oscar-winner Jane Darwell is the embodiment of one of America's greatest social tragedies and the "Okie" spirit of pressing forward against all odds (as she says, "because we're the people"). A documentary-styled production for which Ford and cinematographer Gregg Toland demanded painstaking authenticity,The Grapes of Wrathis much more than a classy, old-fashioned history lesson. With dialogue and scenes that rank among the most moving and memorable ever filmed, it's a classic among classics--simply...
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Director: John Ford
Genre: Classics
DVD Release Date: April 6, 2004
Runtime: 128 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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