Cinema Odeon > 21:00


John Ford


Saturday 29/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes


Having passed his trial by fire, young Mr. Lincoln figures he’ll go on a bit, “maybe to the top of that hill”, while a thunderstorm gathers. A year later, the outlaw Tom Joad leaves our field of vision in much the same manner. The book he has sprung from is John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939). And the actor who plays him will, another 40 years later, make a private drawing of that opened book, with a magnifying glass highlighting one paragraph: “On the highways the people moved like ants and searched for work, for food. And the anger began to ferment”. From the journal of Bertolt Brecht, 22 January 1941: “We see the film of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. You can still see that it must be a great book, and the entrepreneurs probably did not want to ‘take all the strength out of it’. […] The whole thing is an interesting mixture of the documentary and the private, the epic and the drrramatic [sic], the informative and the sentimental, the realistic and the symbolic, the materialistic and the idealistic”. From the writings of Andrew Sarris, 18 October 1973: “After being overrated in its time as a social testament, it is now underrated both as a Hollywood movie (not glossily mythic enough) and as a Ford memento (not purely personal enough). What does stand up to every test of time, however, is Henry Fonda’s gritty incarnation of Tom Joad, a volatile mixture of prairie sincerity and snarling paranoia. […] His physical and spiritual stature is not that of the little man as victim, but of the tall man as troublemaker. His explosive anger has a short fuse and we have only his word for it that he is tough without being mean. Indeed, it is mainly his awkwardness in motion that suggests his vulnerability. His putatively proletarian hero becomes ominously menacing in that shadowy crossroads where social justice intersects with personal vengeance”. From the songbook of Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad, 21 November 1995: “Highway patrol choppers comin’ up over the ridge. […] Welcome to the new world order. Families sleepin’ in the cars in the Southwest. No home no job no peace no rest”.

 Alexander Horwath

Cast and Credits

Sog.: from the eponimous novel (1939) by John Steinbeck. Scen.: Nunnally Johnson. F.: Gregg Toland. M.: Robert Simpson. Scgf.: Richard Day, Mark-Lee Kirk. Mus.: Alfred Newman. Int.: Henry Fonda (Tom Joad), Jane Darwell (mamma Joad), John Carradine (Casy), Charley Grapewin (nonno Joad), Dorris Bowdon (Rosasharn Rivers), Russell Simpson (papà Joad), O.Z. Whitehead (Al Joad), John Qualen (Muley Bates), Eddie Quillan (Connie Rivers), Zeffie Tilbury (nonna Joad). Prod.: Nunnally Johnson, Darryl F. Zanuck per 20th Century-Fox Film Corp. DCP. D.: 129’. Bn.