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The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath  

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  1. 1. Should The Grapes of Wrath remain on the AFI list?

    • I'll be there
      6
    • Everybody's got to get off
      0


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Amy & Paul squeeze out 1940’s Dust Bowl-set John Steinbeck adaptation The Grapes Of Wrath! They ask if Henry Fonda’s Tom Joad is more of a character than an icon, explore the film’s impact on music, and learn what attracted the conservative John Ford to this film. Plus: Labor activist Randy Bryce explains why this is one of his all-time favorite films.

If you’re a Forrest Gump fan, call in to defend your love for it! Call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 with your answer. Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts. Photo credit: Kim Troxall

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In this case, I do find that the book overwhelms the movie. But I've grown to love the movie a lot on its own.

I still don't get why they had to make some changes (besides the rules of the code) to make the movie more happy or palatable; the book was hugely popular without those things. So why did the film have to be? *shrug*

I was stoked Paul & Amy played all those songs -- I'm a huge Woody and Rage fan, and pretty ok with Bruce. Woody basically idolized Joad, and wanted to be him (and in some ways, he absolutely succeeded; he was a myth of the people in his own time). Bruce found it all sad on a human level. But Rage found the rage in Joad (and Bruce) and their interpretation is amazing and inspiring in much the way I think Steinbeck intended.

I do kind of thing the pod focused slightly too much on unions. To me the story is a step back, on the forces and struggles and dreams of (forced) migration which lead to unionization being necessary. The Joad's story is a descent into an extreme situation, usually contrasted with the poetic beauty and promise of California. The film shifts focus a little bit, but I still think it's pretty successful and hard to deny.

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I thought this movie would feel like homework (maybe because it's based on a book often assigned as homework), but instead I was really impressed with John Ford's filmmaking and found it to be a masterpiece of visual storytelling, even above and beyond its basic power as a narrative about working people trying to find their place.

I'm not sure why Amy isn't impressed by the filmmaking here? That opening shot of Henry Fonda at the crossroads is iconic and oft-imitated. The Greg Toland cinematography is amazing in its use of shadows to highlight the drama. I think this is a legit classic on those grounds alone.

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During the, “I’ll be there.” speech, it struck me that it seems to have directly influenced the dialogue of at least two movies. First, I was reminded of Obi Wan’s telling Vader that if he cut him down, he’d be more powerful...that kind of omnipresence that Tom Joad is referring to. Secondly, this speech is mimicked by Steve Martin and Martin Short in The Three Amigos. I had never seen Grapes of Wrath before BUT I’ve seen The Three Amigos a lot. I couldn’t stop chuckling when I heard Fonda do it. For that reason alone...it stays on the list. Now what do we kick off the list to get The Exorcist, on!?

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I thought it was kind of crappy to give so much credit to Jane Fonda’s activism and not mention Vietnam at all.

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I love love love the idea of an update/remake of this movie to address a modern mass migration - specifically following desperate Hondurans fleeing their homes to escape violent drug cartels and the political morass that has spiraled out of the US's interference in South American politics (including but not limited to war on drugs).  Change Tom Joad to Tomas Rivera and let's go.

That said, are we sure this movie hasn't already BEEN remade?  The movie follows a family on road trip towards a goal that might be a mirage but might also save them, it's structured as a series of episodes and incidents along the way that illuminate the themes and characters of the movie, and the family is made up of an ineffectual dad, a loving but maybe underdeveloped mom, a son questioning his place in the world, a wise elder who dies en route, an uncle along for the ride, and a young woman carrying the family's hopes) and I realized - oh shit, is Little Ms. Sunshine the Grapes of Wrath, minus the political content?  
 

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On 11/7/2019 at 6:02 AM, JakeSkywalker said:

oh shit, is Little Ms. Sunshine the Grapes of Wrath, minus the political content?

I had the same realization, especially once the jalopy breaks down as they approach the government camp and they're forced to coast it the last mile!

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On 11/7/2019 at 9:02 AM, JakeSkywalker said:

I love love love the idea of an update/remake of this movie to address a modern mass migration - specifically following desperate Hondurans fleeing their homes to escape violent drug cartels and the political morass that has spiraled out of the US's interference in South American politics (including but not limited to war on drugs).  Change Tom Joad to Tomas Rivera and let's go.

You might want to check out El Norte (~1983). There's probably a lot of other examples, but that's the one I watched in high school, like, decades ago. (So, no comment on quality due to it being distant memory).

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I didn't have a chance to revisit GoW nor do I have any good personal union stories (I don't think my father was in a union and died lower middle class).

However, if you want a good union movie, the documentary Harlan County, USA from the 70s is pretty good. It's about a coal miner strike that went on for years. You get both the importance of unions and how corruption in them can be limiting to them. 

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