This remarkable film version of Steinbeck's novel was nominated for seven Academy Awards®, including for Best Picture, Actor (Henry Fonda), Film Editing, Sound and Writing. John Ford won the Best Director Oscar® and actress Jane Darwell won Best Actress for her portrayal of Ma Joad, the matriarch of the struggling migrant farmer family. Following a prison term he served for manslaughter, Tom Joad returns to find his family homestead overwhelmed by weather and the greed of the banking industry. With little work potential on the horizon of the Oklahoma dust bowls, the entire family packs up and heads for the promised land - California. But the arduous trip and harsh living conditions they encounter offer little hope, and family unity proves as daunting a challenge as any other they face.
**Commentary by Joseph McBride (Film schollar) and Susan Shillinglaw (John Steinbeck schollar)
**U.K. Prologue (seamlessly branched)
Cast & Crew
Movies will probably go on improving and broadening themselves; but in any event, The Grapes of Wrath is the most mature picture story that has ever been made, in feeling, in purpose, and in the use of the medium.
Ford's admirers have rightly tended to play this down in favor of his later and more personal westerns, but there's much to admire here in Gregg Toland's sun-beaten photography and Henry Fonda's meticulous performance.
The Grapes of Wrath is possibly the best picture ever made from a so-so book.
It is an absorbing, tense melodrama, starkly realistic, and loaded with social and political fireworks.
The Grapes of Wrath is just about as good as any picture has a right to be; if it were any better, we just wouldn't believe our eyes.
The Grapes of Wrath was often named the greatest American film, until it was dethroned by the re-release of Citizen Kane.