Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday's Film Adaption: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression follows the western movement of one family & a nation in search of work & human dignity. Perhaps the most American of American classics. The novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of sharecroppers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, & changes in financial & agricultural industries. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, & in part because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other "Okies", they sought jobs, land, dignity & a future. When preparing to write the novel, Steinbeck wrote: "I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression & its effects]." The book won Steinbeck a large following among the working class, perhaps due to the book's sympathy to the workers' movement & its accessible prose style.
The Grapes of Wrath is frequently read in American high school & college literature classes. A celebrated Hollywood film version, starring Henry Fonda & directed by John Ford, was made in 1940.

Release Date: January 24, 1940
Release Time: 129 minutes
Henry Fonda as Tom Joad
Jane Darwell as Ma Joad
John Carradine as Jim Casy
Charley Grapewin as Grandpa
Dorris Bowdon as Rosasharn
Russell Simpson as Pa Joad
O.Z. Whitehead as Al
John Qualen as Muley Graves
Eddie Quillan as Connie
Zeffie Tilbury as Grandma
Frank Sully as Noah
Frank Darien as Uncle John
Darryl Hickman as Winfield
Shirley Mills as Ruthie
Roger Imhof as Thomas
Grant Mitchell as Caretaker
Charles D. Brown as Wilkie
John Arledge as Davis
Ward Bond as Policeman
Harry Tyler as Bert
William Pawley as Bill
Charles Tannen as Joe
Selmer Jackson as Inspection Officer
Charles Middleton as Leader
Eddy Waller as Proprietor
Paul Guilfoyle as Floyd
David Hughes as Frank
Cliff Clark as City Man
Joe Sawyer as Bookkeeper
Frank Faylen as Tim
Adrian Morris as Agent
Hollis Jewell as Muley's Son
Robert Homans as Spencer
Irving Bacon as Driver
Kitty McHugh as Mae

Academy Awards wins (1941)
Best Supporting Actress, Jane Darwell as Ma Joad
Academy Award for Directing, John Ford

Academy Awards nominations (1941)
Best Actor in a Leading Role, Henry Fonda as Tom Joad
Best Film Editing, Robert L. Simpson
Best Picture, Darryl F. Zanuck and Nunnally Johnson
Best Sound Recording, Edmund H. Hansen
Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, Nunnally Johnson

Other wins
National Board of Review of Motion Pictures: NBR Award; Best Picture- 1940
New York Film Critics: NYFCC Award; Best Director, John Ford; Best Film- 1940
Blue Ribbon Awards, Japan: Blue Ribbon Award Best Foreign Language Film, John Ford- 1963
National Film Registry – 1989

American Film Institute recognition
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies – #21
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains: Tom Joad – #12 Hero
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes: "Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there." – Nominated
100 Years...100 Cheers – #7
100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary) – #23

We have probably all read this in high school English class and if you were like me, I didn't like being told to read something and it didn't exactly match my reading interest of the time, so it wasn't a real favorite.  Now I look back with adult eyes and can only recall it with complete fondness.  As a farm girl myself and having come from a long line of farmers, the movie always spoke to me as very special.  It truly is a masterpiece of film making and a classic that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.

Author Bio: 
John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley region of California, a culturally diverse place of rich migratory and immigrant history. This upbringing imparted a regionalistic flavor to his writing, giving many of his works a distinct sense of place.

Steinbeck moved briefly to New York City, but soon returned home to California to begin his career as a writer. Most of his earlier work dealt with subjects familiar to him from his formative years. An exception was his first novel Cup of Gold which concerns the pirate Henry Morgan, whose adventures had captured Steinbeck's imagination as a child.

In his subsequent novels, Steinbeck found a more authentic voice by drawing upon direct memories of his life in California. Later he used real historical conditions and events in the first half of 20th century America, which he had experienced first-hand as a reporter.

Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters; his works examined the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. His later body of work reflected his wide range of interests, including marine biology, politics, religion, history, and mythology.

One of his last published works was Travels with Charley, a travelogue of a road trip he took in 1960 to rediscover America. He died in 1968 in New York of a heart attack and his ashes are interred in Salinas.

Seventeen of his works, including The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1952), went on to become Hollywood films, and Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat.




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