Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Grapes of Wrath

John Ford, 1940, bw (9.0*)
Perhaps Ford's finest film, for which he won the directing Oscar® is this one of John Steinbeck's famous novel, both branded "communist" at the time for their favoritism shown to the common working man thrown into the great migration westward to California in search of orchard picking work during the Great Depression.

This is a very humane and touching story of the Joad family's attempt at survival from a parched dust bowl beginning in Oklahoma, their travels west, and trials in seeking out a new life elsewhere. The entire cast is perfect, especially the performances by Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, and Oscar®-winning Jane Darwell as Ma Joad.

Steinbeck grew up around Salinas, California, the "lettuce capital" of the U.S., so he witnessed firsthand the plight of migrant farm workers. For his part, Ford has been mostly true to the novel, while filming the story with beautiful lighting and b&w cinematography. A classic.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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