The Grapes of Wrath

Screening on Film
Directed by John Ford.
With Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine.
US, 1940, 35mm, black & white, 129 min.
Print source: ConstellationCenter and the Academy Film Archive

Ford’s riveting adaptation of Steinbeck’s classic novel of “Okie” farmers made destitute by the Depression and the Dust Bowl is considered one of the very few politically radical works of studio-era Hollywood. Although Ford envisioned the film as a character study - a portrait of a struggling family - rather than an open attack on capitalism, his adaptation faithfully retains the book’s hard-eyed look at the exploitation of the rural poor. Like so much of his thirties work, The Grapes of Wrath reveals Ford’s then-ardent Leftist populism. The suffering of the Joad family as it marches slowly toward California is given iconic status by Ford’s monumental compositions, by the remarkable performances from a talented cast and by pioneering cinematographer Gregg Toland’s successful fusion of Ford’s expressionist aesthetic and photojournalist realism.

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Classic Ford.
A John Ford Retrospective, Part I

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John Ford:
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