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Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath

4.5 8
Director: John Ford

Cast: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine


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The history of film is rife with classics, but few are so beloved as The Grapes of Wrath, something Fox clearly understands, as is evidenced by this magnificent DVD. One of the supplements (more on those later) is a look at the recent restoration through text and scene comparisons, and the work done is simply marvelous. The full-frame, 1.33:1 transfer is


The history of film is rife with classics, but few are so beloved as The Grapes of Wrath, something Fox clearly understands, as is evidenced by this magnificent DVD. One of the supplements (more on those later) is a look at the recent restoration through text and scene comparisons, and the work done is simply marvelous. The full-frame, 1.33:1 transfer is beautiful. Some occasional flicker is easily forgivable, especially when shown what source material was originally available. The image is outstanding, with the darkest of blacks and contrast that creates a haunting impression. Gregg Toland's black-and-white photography is a work of art and is perfectly captured on this disc. Both stereo and mono Dolby Digital audio tracks are offered; while the time period in which the film was made must be taken into account, the audio is perfectly acceptable for this release. In reality, compared to any other home-video format, this may just be the best it has ever sounded. Dialogue is constantly clear and any possible distractions due to time have been reduced so far as to be unnoticeable. As mentioned above, a segment on the restoration is on hand in the extra features, but that is just one of many. On the movie side of the disc, the film can be watched with or without a U.K. text prologue that helps explain the situation in the U.S. during the time period in which the film is set. In addition, a scholarly commentary track with film academic Joseph McBride and John Steinbeck historian Susan Shillinglaw can be heard. While insightful, the average viewer may find it relatively dry. The flip side of the disc holds the majority of the supplements. First up is a full Biography episode from A&E on producer Darryl F. Zanuck and his tumultuous life and career -- one that was filled with enough ups and downs for a dozen people. Archived Movietone News segments are a nice historical feature; three of them report on the sever drought of 1934, another contains outtakes of the government transient camps, and one shows a speech from President Roosevelt to the film industry. Finishing off this fine disc is a standard photo gallery and trailers for other top landmark titles All About Eve, My Darling Clementine, An Affair to Remember, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, all from the "Fox Studio Classics" line.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
It's rare for cinematic adaptations of classic novels to attain the same status as their sources, but John Ford's 1940 version of The Grapes of Wrath is every bit as meritorious as John Steinbeck's novel about displaced dirt farmers making their way to California during the darkest days of the Great Depression. Some of Steinbeck's most memorable bits -- including the novel's startling but poignant ending -- are softened or eliminated for the movie, but overall Ford captures the book's essence with remarkable skill and sensitivity. Henry Fonda, in one of his best-remembered roles, plays the scion of an Oklahoma family, the Joads, forced off their land by extended droughts and desperate economic conditions. Like so many others seduced by the promise of employment in California, the so-called "land of milk and honey," they pack their meager belongings into a ramshackle car and head west. Their odyssey exposes the Joads to all sorts of people -- some of them willing to exploit the downtrodden Okies, and others equally willing to lend a hand to fellow Americans down on their luck. Fonda's gradual transformation from mild-mannered farm boy to committed political activist culminates in a memorable curtain speech that's only one of the highlights of a masterful job of acting; indeed, his Tom Joad is among the most vividly drawn characters in Hollywood history. Supporting player Jane Darwell won an Oscar for her turn as the strong-willed matriarch of the Joad clan, and Charlie Grapewin, Russell Simpson, John Carradine, John Qualen, and Eddie Quillan also turn in top-drawer performances. Yet Ford's directorial contributions go far beyond steering the actors: He stages sequences and frames shots with sublime attention to detail. The saga of the Joads is tragic in many ways, but this movie doesn't wallow in the mire -- instead, it celebrates the uniquely American qualities of self-sufficiency and perseverance. And it offers, from the viewpoint of milepost 1940, the promise of social change that, ironically, is not yet complete.
All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath is arguably the director's greatest movie, and the rare Hollywood film superior to its literary source (a view shared by the novel's author, John Steinbeck). Indeed, it is the movie that sums up the impact of the Great Depression, at least on rural America, better than any other film of its time (and there were hundreds that tried, by everyone from Frank Capra to Preston Sturges). From the opening shot of Tom Joad's return to the ruined land where he grew up, the movie is a study of people whose dreams and hopes wither away like the drought-stricken crops. Yet Ford managed to make a movie that wasn't utterly pessimistic, despite its story and setting: the performers and script availed him of indomitable characters, convincingly portrayed, with the result that even the most cynical viewers were persuaded of Ford's artistic vision. Henry Fonda, who'd been an up-and-coming leading man, solidified his image as an upright hero with an almost mystical bent in his portrayal of Tom Joad; Jane Darwell became the archetypal rural matriarch; and even the bit players, such as Ward Bond and Grant Mitchell, got relatively rare opportunities to play against their usual types as beneficent characters. The movie became a strange case of fiction transcending fact, as Ford's images (photographed by the great cinematographer Gregg Toland) became more representative of the period than most documentary photography. Countless filmmakers have quoted from The Grapes of Wrath (there's a very funny audio-visual reference in Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and Ford himself never made a more compelling social statement despite several attempts (The Sun Shines Bright, Sergeant Rutledge, and others) over the next 20 years.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
[stereo, monaural]

Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary by scholars Joseph McBride and Susan Shillinglaw; U.K. prologue "Darryl F. Zannuck: 20th Century Filmmaker" as seen on Biography on the A&E Network; Movietone News: Three drought reports from 1934 Outtakes; Still gallery; "Roosevelt Lauds Motion Pictures at Academy Fete" featurette; Restoration comparison

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Henry Fonda Tom Joad
Jane Darwell Ma Joad
John Carradine Casey
Charles Grapewin Grandpa Joad
Doris Bowden Rosasham
John Qualen Muley Graves
Russell Simpson Pa Joad
O.Z. Whitehead Al
Eddie Quillan Connie Rivers
Zeffie Tilbury Gramma
Frank Sully Noah
Frank Darien Uncle John
Darryl Hickman Winfield Joad
Shirley Mills Ruth Joad
Roger Imhof Thomas
Grant Mitchell Caretaker
Charles D. Brown Wilkie
John Arledge Davis
Wally Albright Boy Who Ate
Erville Alderson Arkansas Storekeeper
Arthur Aylesworth Father
Irving Bacon Conductor
Trevor Bardette Jule
Ward Bond Policeman
George Breakston Boy
Cliff Clark Townsman
Shirley "Muggsy" Coates Actor
Harry Cording Actor
Ralph Dunn Deputy
Thornton Edwards Motor Cop
Frank Faylen Tim Wallace
Pat Flaherty Actor
James Flavin Guard
Francis Ford Actor
Paul Guilfoyle Floyd
William Haade Deputy Driver
Ben Hall Actor
Herbert Heywood Actor
Robert E. Homans Spencer
David Hilary Hughes Frank
Selmar Jackson Inspector
Hollis Jewell Muley's Son
Rex Lease Cop
Mae Marsh Floyd's Wife
Louis Mason Man in Camp
Walter McGrail Gang Leader
Kitty McHugh Mae
Charles B. Middleton Leader
Walter Miller New Mexico Border Guard
Adrian Morris Agent
Frank O'Connor Actor
George O'Hara Clerk
Ted Oliver State Policeman
Inez Palange Woman in Camp
William Pawley Bill
Gaylord "Steve" Pendleton Actor
Steve Pendleton Attendant
Jack Pennick Camp helper
Dick Rich Actor
Gloria Roy Waitress
Peggy Ryan Hungry Girl
Joe Sawyer Accountant
Joseph Sauer Accountant
Robert "Buddy" Shaw Gas Station Attendant
Lee Shumway Actor
Georgia Simmons Woman
Harry Strang Fred the Truck Driver
Paul Sutton Actor
Charles Tannen Joe
Harry Tenbrook Deputy/Troublemaker
Harry Tyler Bert
Tom Tyler Sheriff
Eddy Waller Proprietor
Norman Willis Joe

Technical Credits
John Ford Director
Richard Day Art Director
Roger Heman Sound/Sound Designer
Nunnally Johnson Screenwriter
Mark-Lee Kirk Art Director
George Leverett Sound/Sound Designer
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Alfred Newman Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Edward O'Fearna Asst. Director
Robert L. Simpson Editor
John Steinbeck Source Author
Gregg Toland Cinematographer
Gwen Wakeling Costumes/Costume Designer
Darryl F. Zanuck Producer

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Feature
1. Main Titles [1:04]
2. Hitchin' a Ride [3:14]
3. Losing the Call [1:34]
4. Emptiness [3:53]
5. Muley's Story [3:19]
6. Hidin' Out [:17]
7. California Promise [7:02]
8. Joad Reunion [:10]
9. Letting Go [2:01]
10. "I Belong Here!" [3:16]
11. Don't Look Back [1:18]
12. Employment Equation [1:03]
13. A Ten Cent Loaf [2:30]
14. California Border [1:48]
15. Driving Through the Desert [3:25]
16. Beautiful Valley [2:54]
17. A Fair Share [2:13]
18. Business Practices [5:22]
19. No More Okies [4:05]
20. A Job [4:00]
21. Uprising [:24]
22. "Nothing to Trust" [5:20]
23. Gone for Good [2:09]
24. A Stroke of Luck [6:32]
25. Word of Warning [:41]
26. Dance Night [3:46]
27. The Red River Valley [3:13]
28. On the Trail [:59]
29. "I'll Be Everywhere" [6:05]
30. Good-bye [:52]
31. "Twenty Days Work" [6:13]
32. "We're the People That Live" [1:33]


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The Grapes of Wrath 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the few times in history a film has captured and indeed surpassed the impact of the source novel. A hard, close look at the 'dustbowl' time period of the Great Depression, Ford's film is stark, gripping, and unforgetable.
Lou_Ann More than 1 year ago
In 1984, I taught The Grapes of Wrath as a student teacher. I loved it then, but I never had another chance to re-read it until recently. I marvelled at it again and wanted to see this movie. To me, the added features of this DVD makes it a great purchase. Besides the original movie, it has another full movie version with voice overs from a Steinbeck expert and a John Ford (director) expert. Every single part of the movie stays the same, and they take you into the making of it, the background of the times, the politics of it, and the personalities involved in it. I was absolutely glued to the screen. This is definitely for anyone who loves the book, is interested in the time period, and who admires the contribution Steinbeck made to raising awareness of this difficult time in American history.
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lenj More than 1 year ago
This is one of Henry Fonda's strongest acting roles. The film starts as Fonda, just released from prison is returning home to Oklahoma only to find his family no longer able to support themselves as small time dirt farmers, the victims of larger conglamorates which are squeezing them to abandon their land and homes. The plot is fueled by their desperation and a flyer promising high pay in California as migrant grape pickers. It is a story so deep in the consciousness of Americans, concerning exploited workers, beginning here and continuing through the remaining part of the century, reminding us of the plight of immigrant workers in most states in the U.S. Only these Oklahoma farmers are not really immigrants but Americans who have already survived the earlier years of American settlement. It is a story not of simply what we do to others but of what we do to our own. An unforgetable commentary on how the rich exploit the poor that resulted in the beginning of the labor movement in the U.S. It reminds us of how our unions were born out of the necessity of poor people to survive inhuman conditions that favored the rich as they consistently took advantage and systematically exploited the poor. The quiet strength of Henry Fonda and his fierce independence depicts all that we love in the American character. Throughout this film in one brutal scene after another Fonda shows courage, humor, intelligence and determination to fight back against those that would destroy his family and the famlies around him. The other performers give brillant cameo performances. In all. this is an remarkable film drawing out our emotions and sympathy for these particular down to earth poor people and the downtrodden everywhere. Unfortunately, the rich continue to exploit all of us and this film makes us painfully aware that we are still up against the same struggle today when we consider how large corporations like banks, insurance companies and oil giants pretend to act in our interest while they rob us blind. See this film. It's a treat and an eye opener.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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