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THE GRAPES OF WRATH, 1940
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  MOVIE POSTERTHE GRAPES OF WRATH, 1940
Movie Reviews

Director: John Ford

Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell and John Carradine

Review by Russell Hill

SYNOPSIS:

After losing their farm during the Great Depression, a family travels across America to California to better their prospects.

REVIEW:

Any cinephile will know of John Ford. A fantastic director who had John Wayne star in many of his films, John Ford was not always known for his westerns or hiring the Duke. The Grapes of Wrath still has elements of cowboys and Native Americans but turned upside down in this family drama.

The film follows Tom Joad (Fonda) and his family as they travel on the infamous Route 66 to California to find their fortune. Tom is an ex-con who meets a preacher named Jim Casy (Carridine) and they both travel back to Joad's family farm. However, he finds it deserted and discovers that his family have moved in with a relation. Tom is then told by all twelve members of his family that they intend to move to California because they have no other option. After arriving in California, will the Joad clan have a better life?

Henry Fonda is someone who I have always admired. From his early films to those which he made near the end of his life (such as On Golden Pond with Katherine Hepburn), he excelled in each. Tom is a stand-out character, especially as he says that he wants to rid America of social deprivation. The optimism which he had early in the film soon evaporates and, towards the end, he realises that the world in which he lives in is unjust.

Ma Joad (Darwell) is also another character who you should pay close attention to. She too is optimistic at the beginning of the film but, through strong perseverance, she wants to better her position in life. She knows that people of her stature are never going to make millions of dollars but they should be able to live a comfortable life.

John Ford is a master of storytelling. It wouldn't matter if he had to turn the Old MacDonald children's song into a film because he would still make it endearing. At a time when families were being separated in America, the film showed those who were in trouble that there was a way forward. Even those in desperate situations would be able to better their plight if they persevered and kept their head above water all of which is shot marvellously by Ford who makes Route 66 look both majestic and destitute at the same time.

For a classic Hollywood film, check out The Grapes of Wrath. Although it is a shocking film at times, the performances of all characters are endearing and heart-wrenching.

ACTORJohn Ford
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORHenry Fonda
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORJane Darwell
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ACTORJohn Carradine
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ACTORCharley Grapewin
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ACTORJohn Qualen
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ACTORDorris Bowdon
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ACTORRussell Simpson
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THE GRAPES OF WRATH, 1940