The Grapes Of Wrath 1940 NR CC

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(376) IMDb 8.2/10
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The chronicle of a depression-era family of dispossessed farmers who migrate from the Oklahoma dust bowl to the supposedly greener pastures of California.

Starring:
Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell
Runtime:
2 hours, 10 minutes

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158 of 171 people found the following review helpful By Themis-Athena on July 19, 2004
Format: DVD
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loos'd the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword, His truth is marching on." - Battle Hymn of the Republic.

In 1936, John Steinbeck wrote a series of articles about the migrant workers driven to California from the Midwestern states after losing their homes in the throes of the depression: inclement weather, failed crops, land mortgaged to the hilt and finally taken over by banks and large corporations when credit lines ran dry. Lured by promises of work aplenty, the Midwesterners packed their belongings and trekked westward to the Golden State, only to find themselves facing hunger, inhumane conditions, contempt and exploitation instead. "Dignity is all gone, and spirit has turned to sullen anger before it dies," Steinbeck described the result in one of his 1936 articles, collectively published as "The Harvest Gypsies;" and in another piece ("Starvation Under the Orange Trees," 1938) he asked: "Must the hunger become anger and the anger fury before anything will be done?"

By the time he wrote the latter article, Steinbeck had already published one novel addressing the agricultural laborers' struggle against corporate power ("In Dubious Battle," 1936). Shortly thereafter he began to work on "The Grapes of Wrath," which was published roughly a year later.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By "brettf_unimelb" on July 9, 2004
Format: DVD
It's striking how many reviewers here base their comments on a simplisitic comparison between the film version of "The Grapes of Wrath" and the Steinbeck novel on which it was based. For many such a comparison seems to function simply as an excuse to proclaim the inherent superiority of the Steinbeck original--and, by extension, the superiority of their own literary taste values-- when all it really does is highlight the patent silliness of trying to pit different artforms into some sort of evaluative competition. Literature and cinema are two vastly different modes of representation each with their own strengths and limitations, so the framing question shouldn't be which version of "The Grapes of Wrath" is "better"--as if there were a universal yardstick with which to measure such things--but rather how do they perform in terms of their respective mediums? On that count, I think we are extraordinarily fortunate with both the Steinbeck and Ford versions of "The Grapes of Wrath" to have two masterworks that operate consummately at the peak of their respective artforms. What each does well, it does brilliantly. As a verbal medium that unfolds slowly, literature is good at offering rich, layered descriptions of person and place and mapping complicated narrative links and Steinbeck makes the most of this in his novel. Cinema, by contrast, is an expressive medium that works best through registers of visual and aural metaphor, allegory and performance...and it's on this ground that I think the film version of "The Grapes of Wrath" more than merits its classic status.Read more ›
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful By JP Wheeler on March 1, 2002
This is it! This is the movie to show to your preteen children to give them an understanding of what it means to struggle for something, for the barest of necessities.
John Steinbeck and John Ford did America proud, allowing us to look inward to discover solutions for our social problems. As a country we would do well to do the same again.
Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) and Ma Joad (Jane Darwell) are the central characters of this film, but many other, richly defined, roles can be found here. The young husband who deserts his wife because he's ashamed that he can't provide for her ... the waitress whose, somewhat hardened, heart is softened by the plight of the Joads ... the Grandfather who dreams of California and eating grapes while their juice runs down his chin ... the grieving father warning the Joads of the hard times ahead in California ... and who can forget the family friend who refuses to leave Oklahoma, and slides further and further into insanity as his entire community disappears.
Each secondary member of the cast has something invaluable to add to the story and the standout is the great John Carradine as the disillusioned, x-preacher, Casey. It is Casey who helps Tom to recognize the injustice in their 'migrant' world, and Casey who provides the supreme sacrifice and catalyst for Tom's promised future of being "there" for the little guy.
Yes, this movie can fall victim to overt sentimentalism, but the underlying feeling of injustice is probably the main 'character' in the story. While it's overall theme can be depressing, you can't help but smile when Ma Joad says "We're the people that live."
I absolutely love this movie, I think you will too.
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