An Oklahoma family travels towards California desperately
searching for work and hope during the Great Depression.
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Directed by John Ford
Written by Nunnally Johnson
Starring Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Russell Simpson, Charley Grapewin, Dorris Bowdon, O.Z. Whitehead,
Zeffie Tilbury, Frank Sully, Frank Darien, Eddie Quillan
Based on the novel by John Steinbeck
Oscar Wins - Best Supporting Actress (Jane Darwell), Best Director
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Henry Fonda),
Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing
America seems to be synonymous with hardship these days. Pandemic, riots, a divided nation. It's been a long time since we've seen worse days than this. I'm saying it will help, but watching The Grapes of Wrath will certainly put things in perspective. To date, the Great Depression is the closest this country has ever come to complete and total economic and societal collapse. Millions out of work and forced to leave everything behind in search of it, and fresh off the 1918 flu pandemic too. Things had never looked more hopeless, and this film captures that bitter sense of misery perfectly.
Tom Joah (Fonda) has just been released from prison to find the country has gone tits up. His family was thrown out of their home by the bank, and their headed for California with only a fool's hope for work. Along the way, they lose their grandparents, and when they get there, the only work they can find is slave labor for pennies. I honestly couldn't believe that Americans were dressing up as cops and abusing people who tried to question their miserable pay. Then again, the real cops aren't exactly heroes these days, so I guess anything is possible. I bet you can tell that this movie hit home for me a lot harder than I expected.
The Grapes of Wrath is a timeless drama that is relatable in every decade because shit gets worse before it gets better in this country. The cast is stellar, and while I haven't read Steinbeck's classic novel, this film has certainly encouraged me to give it a try. It's a story about how it really feels to lose everything, and it teaches you that giving up is not an option because you never know when your next break will pass you by.