The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Reviewed on 2013 June 7
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the most depressing thing I think I’ve ever seen.
It’s the Great Depression, and Tom Joad (Henry Fonda), an Oklahoma man, comes home from prison to find many of his neighbors were forced off their land. Those who didn’t have their farms foreclosed lost their livelihoods to the Dust Bowl. Tom finds out his clan is going to be forced off their property too, but the Joads have a Plan B. They have a flyer advertising work in California: good money to pick fruit.
They leave for the West, only to learn the first time they camp for the night that about every other man in the Midwest has one of those flyers too.
I don’t know who was better here, Fonda as Tom or Jane Darwell as his strong, kind mama. The migrant worker camp scenes were all painful, but the early scene where Tom meets the first farmer who lost his property was the most frightening. I read the book in high school; now that we’re edging closer to reliving this time the story has more of an impact. I think this film showed the nightmare of The Great Depression better than anything else I’d encountered. I know some people say there are “Red” undertones throughout the Joad tale; it’s been years since I read the book but I didn’t get that from the movie. I just saw people wanting to be left alone to work and live their lives.
Four chocolate morsels.