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The Grapes of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath
DVD ~ Henry Fonda
Offered by Urban-E
Price: $19.69
46 used & new from $8.26

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Grapes--and Apples and Oranges--of Wrath, July 9, 2004
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath (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. It is a magnificently "cinematic" film that uses the expressive capacities of the medium to produce a richly layered experience that is truly moving and that lingers long afterward, sometimes for years or even a whole lifetime. I first saw "The Grapes of Wrath" on TV one rainy afternoon in my childhood and it left indelible impressions that have impelled me to go back to the film time and again: The haunted eyes of Jane Darwell's Ma Joad as she sits in the truck cabin, lit from beneath, driving into an uncertain future, the winds of history howling oustside; the terrifying collision montage as the monstrous "cats" move in to destroy the Okies' homes; the soulless gas station attendants, standing together in uniforms like corporatized automata, muttering that the Joads are too miserable to be human. It's a film dense with iconic richness and an enduring testament both to the artistry of the many workers that created it, and to the democratic spirit of popular cinema at its very best.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 13, 2013 12:06 PM PDT

Crowd, The [VHS]
Crowd, The [VHS]
Offered by Mengli
Price: $44.95
7 used & new from $42.02

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a word: masterpiece, June 26, 2004
This review is from: Crowd, The [VHS] (VHS Tape)
"The Crowd" is quite simply one of the most powerful and moving films ever made. I have had the pleasure of watching it many times over the years, both alone and as part of a "crowd", and its impact has always been the same: leaving me and the rest of the audience breathless with emotion. Directed and co-written by the wonderful King Vidor (surely one of the greatest talents ever to work in the Hollywood system) and featuring extraordinary cinematography from Henry Sharp that still startles 80 years after the fact, "The Crowd" is one of those rare instances where everything comes together to form a perfect artistic whole. An integral part of that artistic perfection is the acting from the two leads, James Murray and Eleanor Boardman, who give riveting, true-to-life performances as the film's symbolic "everyman and woman", John and Mary. Anyone who believes the old chestnut that silent film acting is too artificial and stylized to work for modern audiences should see this film. I know that the term masterpiece gets used far too frequently and lightly these days, especially apropos Hollywood cinema, but IMO "The Crowd" is one instance when it is truly merited. Thanks to the combined efforts of Thames Television and composer Carl Davis (a great talent in his own right and major friend to lovers of silent Hollywood film), we are fortunate today to have a beautifully remastered and re-scored copy of "The Crowd" but sadly it is only available on VHS, and even this is discontinued, or through the occasional cable TV screening. Surely , this is a film that demands a major DVD release...hello, Criterion?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 27, 2013 2:35 AM PDT

Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film, Complete Set 1-13 [VHS]
Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film, Complete Set 1-13 [VHS]
7 used & new from $400.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maginificent Valentine to Silent Hollywood...DVD please!, June 24, 2004
It's all been said so I'll just add my voice to the chorus: this series is the single best overview of, and testament to, the magic and artistry of Hollywood filmmaking in the silent era. It's a labour of love made by people who clearly adore silent cinema and their admiration for this singular artform, as for the many artists--from directors, writers and cameramen to actors and stuntmen--who created it, is practically palpable in every scene. Like many others, this series functioned for me as an eye-opening introduction to the astonishing world of silent Hollywood when I first saw it as a boy on television, so I owe it a great deal! To this day, I can't hear the lush strains of Carl Davis's magnificent theme music without getting goosebumps. That this series isn't more widely available and, in particuilar, that it isn't on DVD is a crime....

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