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88 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'll be all aroun' in the dark."
"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...
Published on 27 Feb 2005 by Themis-Athena

versus
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ford's depiction of the Great Depression
Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) has just been released from jail. He returns to his Oklahoma home to find that his family have been kicked off of their farm due to foreclosure. Like nearly all of the other farmers, Tom and his large family load up their belongs and head to California to find work. Along the way they manage to find some work but it amounts to nothing more than...
Published on 12 May 2004 by Tatiana


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88 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'll be all aroun' in the dark.", 27 Feb 2005
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
"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. Although the book would win the Pulitzer Prize (1940) and become a cornerstone foundation of Steinbeck's Literature Nobel Prize (1962), it was sharply criticized upon its release - nowhere more so than in the Midwest - and still counts among the 35 books most frequently banned from American school curricula: A raw, brutally direct, yet incredibly poetic masterpiece of fiction, it continues to touch nerves deeply rooted in modern society's fabric; including and particularly in California, where yesterday's Okies are today's undocumented Mexicans - Chicano labor leader Cesar Chavez especially pointed out how well he could empathize with the Joad family, because he and his fellow workers were now living the same life they once had.
Having fought hard with his publisher to maintain the novel's uncompromising approach throughout, Steinbeck was weary to give the film rights to 20th Century Fox, headed by powerful mogul and, more importantly, known conservative Daryl F. Zanuck. Yet, Zanuck and director John Ford largely stayed true to the novel: There is that sense of desperation in farmer Muley's (John Qualen's) expression as he tells Tom and ex-preacher Casy (Henry Fonda and John Carradine) how the "cats" came and bulldozed down everybody's homes, on behalf of a corporate entity too intangible to truly hold accountable. There is Grandpa Joad (Charley Grapewin), literally clinging to his earth and dying of a stroke (or, more likely, a broken heart) when he is made to leave against his will. There is everybody's brief joy upon first seeing Bakersfield's rich plantations - everybody's except Ma Joad's (Jane Darwell's), that is, who alone knows that Grandma (Zeffie Tilbury) died in her arms before they even started to cross the Californian desert the previous night. There is the privately-run labor camps' utter desolation, complete with violent guards, exploitative wages, lack of food and unsanitary conditions; contrasted with the relative security and more humane conditions of the camps run by the State. And there is Tom's crucial development from a man acting alone to one seeing the benefit of joining efforts in a group, following Casy's example, and his parting promise to Ma that she'll find him everywhere she looks - wherever there is injustice, struggle, and people's joint success. In an overall outstanding cast, which also includes Dorris Bowdon (Rose of Sharon), Eddie Quillan (Rose's boyfriend Connie), Frank Darien (Uncle John) and a brief appearance by Ward Bond as a friendly policeman, Henry Fonda truly shines as Tom; despite his smashing good looks fully metamorphosized into Steinbeck's quick-tempered, lanky, reluctant hero.
Yet, in all its starkness the movie has a more optimistic slant than the novel; due to a structural change which has the Joads moving from bad to acceptable living conditions (instead of vice versa), the toning down of Steinbeck's political references - most importantly, the elimination of a monologue using a land owner's description of "reds" as anybody "that wants thirty cents and hour when we're payin' twenty-five" to show that under the prevalent conditions that definition applies to virtually *every* migrant laborer - and a greater emphasis on Ma Joad's pragmatic, forward-looking way of dealing with their fate; culminating in her closing "we's the people" speech (whose direction, interestingly, Ford, who would have preferred to end the movie with the image of Tom walking up a hill alone in the distance, left to Zanuck himself). Jane Darwell won a much-deserved Academy-Award for her portrayal as Ma; besides John Ford's Best Director award the movie's only winner on Oscar night - none of its other five nominations scored, unfortunately including those in the Best Picture and Best Leading Actor categories, which went to Hitchcock's "Rebecca" and James Stewart ("The Philadelphia Story") instead. Still, despite its critical success - also expressed in a "Best Picture" National Board of Review award - and its marginally optimistic outlook, the movie engendered almost as much controversy as did Steinbeck's book. After the witch hunt setting in not even a decade later, today it stands as one of the last, greatest examples of a movie pulling no punches in the portrayal of society's ailments; a type of film regrettably rare in recent years.
"Ev'rybody might be just one big soul - well it looks that-a way to me. ... Wherever men are fightin' for their rights, that's where I'm gonna be, ma. That's where I'm gonna be." - Woody Guthrie, "The Ballad of Tom Joad."
"The highway is alive tonight, but nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes. I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light, with the ghost of old Tom Joad." - Bruce Springsteen, "The Ghost of Tom Joad."
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars But better read the book too!, 26 May 2007
The Grapes of Wrath is fiction based on fact, and tells the story of the Joads, turned off their land by an east coast bank, which has bought up huge tracts of farmland to turn into enormous mechanised cereal factories. Thousands of such families left Oklahoma, Arkansas and other states in the 1930s for that reason, heading west to get work in California. The novel follows the Joads' progress from naivety through hope to desperation, providing also valuable essay-type commentaries on what was going on politically and whose fault is was. The story is compelling particularly because you just can't tell if it is all going to end happily or not.

The novel is absolutely stonking, and it was after reading it that I wanted to see the film, to get some visual images based on fact rather than my imagination. In that regard I was not disappointed. I think the film captures the atmosphere very well, and I was repeatedly amazed by how what I saw on screen mapped onto what I had imagined: the landscape, the laden car, the hunger.. But what I really wanted to see was how a film maker would handle the absolutely desolate ending to the book. Answer: it was not handled at all. The film ends on an optimistic note about how all good Americans can make it through adversity, and we'll all pull together, blah blah--which is expressly not how the novel ends. I won't spoil the ending by saying too much, only that it's shocking and challenging (and you won't guess it). Read the book and you'll see what I mean. So although I give it 4 stars for what it *does* do, the film was a disappointment in the end and definitely should not be a substitute for the book. (If you don't like reading long books, get it on unabridged audio, and let someone read it to you while you drive to work).
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JOHN FORD CLASSIC, 22 Nov 2008
By 
BABU VARMA "B.K. Varma" (Trichur East, Kerala State, India) - See all my reviews
The Grapes Of Wrath [1940]
AFTER THE DUST BOWL DISASTER OF THE THIRTIES, OKLAHOMA FARMERS TREK TO CALIFORNIA IN THE HOPE OF A BETTER LIFE. A SUPERB FILM WHICH COULD SCARELY BE IMPROVED UPON. THOUGH THE ENDING IS SOFTENED FROM THE BOOK, THERE WAS TOO MUCH HERE FOR FILM-GOERS TO CHEW ON. ACTING, CINEMATOGRAPHY AND DIRECTION COMBINE TO MAKE THIS AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE. GREAT QUOTES FROM THE FILM WHICH I CHERISH:
(1) TOM(HENRY FONDA): THIS HERE'S WILLIAM JAMES JOAD, DIED OF A STOKE, OLD, OLD MAN. HIS FOLKS BURIED HIM BECAUSE THEY GOT NO MONEY TO PAY FOR FUNERALS. NOBODY KILLED HIM. JUST A STROKE, AND HE DIED.
(2) MA(JANE DARWELL): Rich fellas come up, an' they die, an' thier kids ain't no good, an they die out. But we keep-a-comin'. We're the people that live. Can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, because we're the people.
MA: Well, Pa, woman can change bettern a man. Man lives - well in jerks. Baby born or somebody dies - that's a jerk. With a woman it's all one flow, like a stream - little eddies, little waterfalls - but the river, it goes right on. Woman looks at it that way.
A GENUINELY GREAT MOTION PICTURE. ACOORDING TO DAD, " THE MOST MATURE MOTION PICTURE THAT HAS EVER BEEN MADE, IN FEELING, IN PURPOSE AND IN THE USE OF THE MEDIUM." PERSONALLY I FEEL THAT IT IS A SEERING AND SINCERE INDICTMENT OF A MAN'S CRUEL INDIFFERENCE TO HIS FELLOWS. IT RECEIVED ACADEMY NOMINATIONS FOR BEST PICTURE(Nunnally Jhonson) BEST ACTOR(HANK FONDA). IT WON BEST DIRECTOR: JOHN FORD and BEST ACTRESS: JANE DARWELL.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars spirit of survival =an ode to humanity, 11 Aug 2008
Suffering defines the human spirit of survival,and here Steinbeck was giving a simple message indeed that survival is for the fittest ,in any civilization whether it be democratic or fascist is irrelevant ,here the Oklahoma dustbowl is the land of the dispossessed and their misery and suffering is the message to the fulfillment of their broken dreams , that poverty can be a curse and it is not restricted only to Africa but white American kids also can die of kwashiorkor secondary to malnutrition.

Ford gets the bitter Steinbeck message across with simplicity and the fact he does so without melodrama is astonishing ,yet materialism is not criticised just observed as a reality while the disposessed people are evicted from ancestral homes and lands and they die and starve on 'route 66' on way to a dream that shall never be fulfilled .

The movie is sentimental at times ,emotional and intelligent all the time and is an ode to human existence itself .

No body in Hollywood today can even conceive of this treatment much less execute this tribute to the 'survival of the fittest' in the land of oppurtunity ,with an underlying subtle satire but also a gentle tenderness for the dregs of humanity ,who are being persecuted as they are inferior in comparison to their peers .

The journey becomes a nightmare and a dream with a poetic pathos and it becomes art with a pulsating powerful pulse as it is sincere and heartfelt and also imitates reality without pretense .

Steinbeck would be proud of ford's version and it still touches your soul ,as humanity and it's basic essential desires never get get dated just like ford's adaptation of grapes of wrath.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'll be all aroun' in the dark.", 23 July 2004
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
"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. Although the book would win the Pulitzer Prize (1940) and become a cornerstone foundation of Steinbeck's Literature Nobel Prize (1962), it was sharply criticized upon its release - nowhere more so than in the Midwest - and still counts among the 35 books most frequently banned from American school curricula: A raw, brutally direct, yet incredibly poetic masterpiece of fiction, it continues to touch nerves deeply rooted in modern society's fabric; including and particularly in California, where yesterday's Okies are today's undocumented Mexicans - Chicano labor leader Cesar Chavez especially pointed out how well he could empathize with the Joad family, because he and his fellow workers were now living the same life they once had.
Having fought hard with his publisher to maintain the novel's uncompromising approach throughout, Steinbeck was weary to give the film rights to 20th Century Fox, headed by powerful mogul and, more importantly, known conservative Daryl F. Zanuck. Yet, Zanuck and director John Ford largely stayed true to the novel: There is that sense of desperation in farmer Muley's (John Qualen's) expression as he tells Tom and ex-preacher Casy (Henry Fonda and John Carradine) how the "cats" came and bulldozed down everybody's homes, on behalf of a corporate entity too intangible to truly hold accountable. There is Grandpa Joad (Charley Grapewin), literally clinging to his earth and dying of a stroke (or, more likely, a broken heart) when he is made to leave against his will. There is everybody's brief joy upon first seeing Bakersfield's rich plantations - everybody's except Ma Joad's (Jane Darwell's), that is, who alone knows that Grandma (Zeffie Tilbury) died in her arms before they even started to cross the Californian desert the previous night. There is the privately-run labor camps' utter desolation, complete with violent guards, exploitative wages, lack of food and unsanitary conditions; contrasted with the relative security and more humane conditions of the camps run by the State. And there is Tom's crucial development from a man acting alone to one seeing the benefit of joining efforts in a group, following Casy's example, and his parting promise to Ma that she'll find him everywhere she looks - wherever there is injustice, struggle, and people's joint success. In an overall outstanding cast, which also includes Dorris Bowdon (Rose of Sharon), Eddie Quillan (Rose's boyfriend Connie), Frank Darien (Uncle John) and a brief appearance by Ward Bond as a friendly policeman, Henry Fonda truly shines as Tom; despite his smashing good looks fully metamorphosized into Steinbeck's quick-tempered, lanky, reluctant hero.
Yet, in all its starkness the movie has a more optimistic slant than the novel; due to a structural change which has the Joads moving from bad to acceptable living conditions (instead of vice versa), the toning down of Steinbeck's political references - most importantly, the elimination of a monologue using a land owner's description of "reds" as anybody "that wants thirty cents and hour when we're payin' twenty-five" to show that under the prevalent conditions that definition applies to virtually *every* migrant laborer - and a greater emphasis on Ma Joad's pragmatic, forward-looking way of dealing with their fate; culminating in her closing "we's the people" speech (whose direction, interestingly, Ford, who would have preferred to end the movie with the image of Tom walking up a hill alone in the distance, left to Zanuck himself). Jane Darwell won a much-deserved Academy-Award for her portrayal as Ma; besides John Ford's Best Director award the movie's only winner on Oscar night - none of its other five nominations scored, unfortunately including those in the Best Picture and Best Leading Actor categories, which went to Hitchcock's "Rebecca" and James Stewart ("The Philadelphia Story") instead. Still, despite its critical success - also expressed in a "Best Picture" National Board of Review award - and its marginally optimistic outlook, the movie engendered almost as much controversy as did Steinbeck's book. After the witch hunt setting in not even a decade later, today it stands as one of the last, greatest examples of a movie pulling no punches in the portrayal of society's ailments; a type of film regrettably rare in recent years.
"Ev'rybody might be just one big soul - well it looks that-a way to me. ... Wherever men are fightin' for their rights, that's where I'm gonna be, ma. That's where I'm gonna be." - Woody Guthrie, "The Ballad of Tom Joad."
"The highway is alive tonight, but nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes. I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light, with the ghost of old Tom Joad." - Bruce Springsteen, "The Ghost of Tom Joad."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars USA 1940, 25 Aug 2009
By 
Mr. D. Tozer (Sussex Engalnd) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
An ioutstanding film mirroring the problems of the USA economy arising from the great depressionof the 1930's. California had the weather and crops and needed people whereas Oklahoma had drought and depresion. Virtually no welfare for anyone thus migrants left the dustbowl for California only to find that they were still exploited by the fruit growers who wanted to pay as little as possible to mifgrant labour. However the humanity of some Californians comes through in a moving story of an American family leaving their roots and starting a new life with hope - something Americans have in abundance. Black and white actually enhances the seriousness of the subject material. A film not to mis by anyone interested in the cinemas. Interestingly the photography was by Gregg Toland who a year later photographed one of the worlds greatest films - Citizen Kane.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Universal Drama, 17 Nov 2009
By 
Satish Nimkar (Barcelona,Spain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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It seems that the world has not changed much since the time when Steinebeck first wrote his novel the Grapes of Wrath. The problems of those sharecroppers from Oklahoma in the film are not much different from those of the impoverished peasantry in many parts of our contemporary world. Leaving your native lands in search of better prospects somewhere else,willingly or forcibly,is another theme in the film having validity in the present world. Thus, the film has an universal appeal. In spite of its sombre mood,trials and tribulations of the sharecroppers, the film ends on an optimistic note. The main character of the film,Tom Joad,played superbly by Henry Fonda,breaks himself loose from the miseries for a better world tomorrow.

Not to miss: haunting black and white photography of the film. As a director, this must be one of the best of John Ford.

A thought-provoking film indeed!!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful film, 8 July 2000
By A Customer
A beautiful and intens film, depicting the desperate trip of the Joab family, who -like many of their fellow men- loaded all their belongings on a truck and left their farm in Oklahoma to find work in California, only to find tragedy and betrayal on their way. The characters are beautifully portrayed, not only the lead characters but also the people the Joads meet on the road and the movie appears to give a good image of the US at that time. I think the book of John Steinbeck is certainly one of the best ever written and should be read seperately from the film. But the film certainly was not a dissapointment compared with the book, although one should keep in mind that often a film made after a book is not identical to that book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic transfer and a pleasant surprise., 12 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Grapes of Wrath [Blu-ray] [1940] (Blu-ray)
Wow! I had never seen this before but it was completely engrossing and a really good watch that I highly recommend.
2 hours had gone before I knew it and I still wanted more - always the highest complement in my opinion.

This is also one of the best transfers of a film of this age I've seen.
The picture quality is outstanding, I couldn't see any damage or softness and I don't see how a better transfer could be achieved.
As for the sound, well that was a very pleasant surprise. There is a new DTS HD Mono soundtrack but from the moment it starts you would never guess it was mono. Running through an excellent HD surround system everything from dialogue to incidentals is crisp and clear.

And with some good extras as well, this is a superb buy and a perfect example of what can be done with old content when given the proper time and love on the transfer it deserves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Grapes of Wrath, 12 Sep 2009
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This is a film that is worth watching many times, The acting is excellent and so is the storey. Don't make them like this today.
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The Grapes of Wrath [Blu-ray] [1940]
The Grapes of Wrath [Blu-ray] [1940] by John Ford (Blu-ray - 2014)
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