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7 of 7 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...
Published on July 19 2004 by Themis-Athena

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SOMEWHAT DISAPPOINTING EFFORT FROM FOX!
"The Grapes of Wrath" is an inspired, harsh and critical retake on the Great Depression and its human fall out. While other studios were producing ultra high glamour and star driven vehicles, Darryl F. Zanuck chose to turn his spotlight on the crisis of the country and came up with an all time box office winner. It stars Henry Fonda as the forgotten man of conscience who...
Published on April 6 2004 by Nix Pix


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'll be all aroun' in the dark.", July 19 2004
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Grapes of Wrath (Bilingual) (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. 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Grapes--and Apples and Oranges--of Wrath, July 9 2004
By 
"brettf_unimelb" (Melbourne, VIC Australia) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Grapes of Wrath (Bilingual) (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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good a restoration as possible, June 29 2004
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Ce commentaire est de: The Grapes of Wrath (Bilingual) (DVD)
This DVD restoration is probably as good as possible given that the original camera negative was lost. This is the one to get.
By the way, there is NO widescreen version of "The Grapes of Wrath." This DVD release exhibits the full frame aspect ratio of the original (1.33 to 1 ratio). Essentially, films made between 1917 and 1952 were filmed with a full frame aspect ratio. Standard televisions were proportioned 4:3 to copy the standard cinema ratio. Widescreen (Cinemascope, etc) was a gimmick introduced by Hollywood in the 1950s to compete with television. So if a film was made between 1917 and 1952 don't go looking for a widescreen version of it because there isn't any!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ford and Fonda do justice to Steinbeck, July 6 2004
By 
Mark J. Fowler "Let's Play Two!" (Blytheville, Arkansas (The "the" is silent)) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Grapes of Wrath (Bilingual) (DVD)
Take John Steinbeck's Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Novel. Turn it into a movie and let John Ford direct it, and get Henry Fonda to star. In 1940 you could hardly find a more certain recipe for a cinema classic.
As good as the film is, it really should be a companion-piece to Steinbeck's original masterpiece, and if you haven't read it I recommend setting aside enough time to read one of the greatest pieces of American literature ever written.
That being said, the medium of the cinema allows for a visual impact that can't be matched with the written word.
The Grapes of Wrath follows the Joad family during the great depression. That period of economic hardship hit the farmers in Oklahoma a little harder than the rest of the world, at the time of the dust bowl the "Okies" were at the end of their ropes, financially speaking.
Thousands of Okies packed up the house after being foreclosed and moved out to California - many winding up around Bakersfield, at the California end of old US Route 66. (Merle Haggard's family did so and the "Okie from Muscogee" wrote about it in songs like "California Cottonfields".)
Anyway, this is the historical context of the movie. The theme of the movie, and of Steinbeck's book, is the ability of the human spirit to remain intact in these worst of times. The Joads suffer terrible humiliations, one after another, most of them because of their desperate financial status. But as the story proceeds we see that they are fundamentally decent, hard-working people, and every time life knocks them down they get back up, brush the dirt off themselves, and keep moving forward. As a national characteristic, this was an important trait because this was the generation that produced the hard-working, high-minded individuals who did important things like win World War II, followed by America's greatest financial flourishing and the Baby Boom. Tom Brokaw called them "America's Greatest Generation".
The cast is picture-perfect, with Henry Fonda as the spirited Tom Joad and John Carradine as the former preacher with a new social consciousness. Jane Darwell won a well-deserved Best Supporting Actress Award as Ma Joad, and the remainder of the cast is in every way equal to the story and the film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SOMEWHAT DISAPPOINTING EFFORT FROM FOX!, April 6 2004
By 
Nix Pix (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Grapes of Wrath (Bilingual) (DVD)
"The Grapes of Wrath" is an inspired, harsh and critical retake on the Great Depression and its human fall out. While other studios were producing ultra high glamour and star driven vehicles, Darryl F. Zanuck chose to turn his spotlight on the crisis of the country and came up with an all time box office winner. It stars Henry Fonda as the forgotten man of conscience who is forced to leave his homestead in search of a hopefully better life that, sadly, is not to be. Jane Darwell is brilliant as Ma Joad, the defiant, resilient and compelling matriarch who keeps the family together through these tough times. Dark was the world of the 1930s in reality, but never was it more magically brought to life than in this inspirational film of hope, courage and the dream of prosperity that must have seemed so far out of reach at the time of the film's general release.
TRANSFER: Previous versions of this film have looked as though they were caught in their own dust bowl. This DVD managed to recapture much of the lost visual style absent in earlier versions. Greg Tolland's evocative camera work is magnificently captured. Black levels are deep. The gray scale, for the most part is well balanced and captures the stark harshness of the original presentation. There are a host of age related artifacts present throughout but these have at least been tempered and do not terribly distract. There is some shimmering of fine details and more than a hint of pixelization in this transfer. Nevertheless, the image quality is an improvement over previous incarnations. Somehow it almost seems to add to the vintage of subject matter of this film. The audio is remixed to 5.1 but really - this is a mono film with very little spread or reason for it across your other channels.
EXTRAS: A biography on Darryl F. Zanuck, audio commentaries, restoration comparison and theatrical trailer. One should expect no less!
BOTTOM LINE: "The Grapes of Wrath" is an enduring tale of enduring souls caught in the uncertainty of their times. But there's no uncertainty about my recommendation of this disc. An absolute must!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Oklahoma family's hardship during the Great Depression, June 8 2002
By 
Linda Linguvic (New York City) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Grapes of Wrath, the (VHS Tape)
This 1940 film, based on John Steinbeck's novel depicts the searing injustices to a family of Oklahoma sharecroppers during the Depression. Who can ever forget the Joad family, forced off their land during those difficult times? Henry Fonda is cast as the older son, out on parole, but who chooses to travel to California with his family in search of jobs. John Carradine is a former preacher who joins the family. And Jane Darwell, cast as Ma Joad, won an academy award for her performance. I read the book years ago and it will forever be seared in my memory. And even though the film left out the most memorable scene of all, I was moved by the family's plight, as they joined the great migration to California in a rickety truck.
The film has stood the time well if viewed as a history lesson. It was a horrible time in America and it certainly is realistic in depicting the times in general and the plight of the Okies in particular. Some of the dialogue though, is a bit too preachy, and it's hard to believe that it would have come from a poor share-cropper's mouth. The hardship was relentless and hard to watch and there was little opportunity for the characters to make choices. However, this is just nit picking on my part. On the whole, I feel it is a serious film well worth viewing, especially for those who find it difficult to understand what living through the Depression was like. Of course I recommend it. It's a classic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astounding film, especially for its time., July 20 2001
By 
Kyle Wells (BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Grapes of Wrath, the (VHS Tape)
This 1940 classic is a film that was remarkable for its time and still packs a punch today. It is a movie that contains a very complex political message within a very simple story of simple people. It takes a very basic story of a family moving to California during the depression and turns it into a powerful, enthralling and heartfelt film about people, politics and the way the world works. It is an excellent adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic novel, which even Steinbeck himself declared to be a powerful thing on its own.
The film centers around the main character of Tom Joad who is played brilliantly by Henry Fonda. Tom has just gotten out of prison only to find that his family and all of the other families in the area have been kicked off their farms by the banks. Most of these families decide to head to California in search of work that has been promised to them by pamphlets and brochures. Tom's family decides to do the same and the rest of the movie is about the hardships these people come across on the way to and in California. It is a well-known story that is loved by many people but the true core of the story is the political message within. It is a very leftist film and the message of the verge of communist or "red" but it was at the time a very real and much needed idealism. The message is mainly presented through the character of the Preacher or Casy but by the end it is Tom himself who is spreading the word of unions and fair work.
The directing is fantastic and who would expect anything less from John Ford who is considered by most to be one of the, if not the greatest director from the days of old Hollywood. This is one of the films that proves this statement and is bested only by "The Searchers" in my opinion. The skill in which Ford frames his shots is incredible and quite unheard of for the time. He uses techniques and shooting styles that would have been more common in the Seventies up until now but here's John Ford using them in 1940. The lighting is one of the best parts of the film and Ford uses every available chance to use natural lighting usually at the hand of a candle or match and the results are astounding. The film has a feeling and a huge amount of style to it. It is truly a work of art.
I think Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine put it best when he said, "In the film, Joad butts heads with the behemoth of capitalism and realizes he can find redemption only through struggle. It really spells out the capitalist system's indifference to humanity. I'm shocked the movie even got made in the U.S.". I would agree with this statement and go even further to say that it was amazing that this film was not only made in the U.S. but in 1940. This is a time when the more "red" way of thinking was not as accepted as it has been for the last thirty years or so.
Steinbeck's book is amazing and the movie is a powerful adaptation that is fit for any fan of great movies, particularly fans of films that have a social message to deliver. If you have not seen it I whole heartily suggest that you do.
Thanxs...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Working Class Triumph, Oct. 6 2000
By 
John Lease (USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Grapes of Wrath, the (VHS Tape)
A great cast creates this haunting classic. Justly rated as one of the top 100 films of all time the movie tells the story of the Joad family. Dust-bowl era Oklahoma farmers venturing to California to start over. The film opens with Henry Fonda returning home from prison to find that things have underwent serious change. The dust-bowl and subsequent crop failures are forcing the farmers off their land, including his family. Fonda is rightly remembered for his "I'll be there" speech near the conclusion but one of the true stars is Jane Darwell as the caring and yet strong as steel mother that shepards the family through each crisis. John Carradine is also memorable as the spooky ex-preacher who stumbles his way into political activism. The film has lost nothing in the 60 years since it was produced. Important and entertaining viewing for a whole family.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, pure and simple., Feb. 21 2004
By 
Ned Boschco (West Kingston,RI) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Grapes of Wrath (Bilingual) (DVD)
It's almost too easy to label a movie a masterpiece today, but The Grapes of Wrath deserves that praise in spades. Not only is this film a masterpiece in scoop and visuals but a masterpiece in it's acting as well. I will say that this film is Henry Fonda best, and he holds your heart like no one does, and never lets go for an instant. Jane Darwell is simply perfect as her role as his mother, and her will and determination is the heart and soul of this movie. John Ford has made perhaps one of the greatest movies ever made, and made a timely massage about the faith of the human Sprit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poverty, social injustice, and freedom in the focus..., May 19 2004
By 
A Customer (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Grapes of Wrath (Bilingual) (DVD)
After a four year stint in jail for a self-defense murder, Tom Joad (Herny Fonda) returns home to find his family being ousted from their home. The Joad's have decided to venture to California based on a flyer that promises a job for good pay in order to find a better way of life. On the trip the family faces countless hardships, which seems to continue as they arrive in the the promise land of California. Tom witnesses how his family and many others are being taken advantage of and how people are being considered "good-for-nothing people". Despite these adversities the Joads keep on struggling and hoping for something better to turn up. Grapes of Wrath is based on John Steinbeck's novel with the same name which sends a powerful socioeconomic message about poverty, social injustice, and freedom where the dollar seems to guide all. It also conveys a strong notion of hope, family, and determination, which can be the source of a better life. The story's messages are equally important today as they were in 1940, and Ford does a brilliant job in depicting these issues on the silver screen. Grapes of Wrath is an exceptional film that leaves the audience with a brilliant cinematic experience that will resound throughout the viewers lives as they will face these issues repeatedly.
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