AFI Movie Club: THE GRAPES OF WRATH – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: THE GRAPES OF WRATH

THE GRAPES OF WRATH was selected for both AFI’s original and 10th anniversary lists of the greatest American films of all time. Henry Fonda’s character Tom Joad is ranked #12 among AFI’s greatest screen heroes, and the film is ranked #7 as one of the most inspiring films ever. Director John Ford was awarded the first-ever AFI Life Achievement Award in 1973, while lead Henry Fonda would go on to receive the honor five years later.

 

Watch Danny Glover announce the THE GRAPES OF WRATH:

 

Movie Trivia for THE GRAPES OF WRATH

DID YOU KNOW?

THE GRAPES OF WRATH is based on John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the Great Depression.

DID YOU KNOW?

20th Century-Fox requested the loan of Spencer Tracy to play Tom Joad even though the studio had already announced Henry Fonda for the part.

DID YOU KNOW?

Producer Darryl Zanuck not only offered Fonda the lead role but also had him sign a seven-year contract with the studio.

DID YOU KNOW?

Zanuck sent a team to investigate the migrant workers’ plight only to be informed that conditions were actually much worse than those depicted in John Steinbeck’s novel.

DID YOU KNOW?

Actress Beulah Bondi, believing that she had the part of Ma Joad, reportedly bought an old jalopy and moved to Bakersfield, California to live among the migrant workers as research for the role. Jane Darwell was ultimately cast in the part.

DID YOU KNOW?

Director John Ford banned all makeup and perfume from the set on the grounds that it was not in keeping with the tone of the picture.

DID YOU KNOW?

Alfred Newman, head of a family of major Hollywood film composers, wrote the film score.

DID YOU KNOW?

THE GRAPES OF WRATH took home two Academy Awards®. John Ford earned the Oscar® for Best Director and Jane Darwell (Ma Joad) won Best Supporting Actress.

DID YOU KNOW?

The 1990 stage adaptation of “The Grapes of Wrath,” which starred Terry Kinney, Gary Sinise and Lois Smith, won the Tony Award® for Best Play.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-How does the Ford’s film differ from John Steinbeck’s original novel?

-Where does the title for THE GRAPES OF WRATH originate from?

-What does the movie say about the systemic injustice and plight of migrant workers?

-With Daryl Zanuck forcing Henry Fonda to sign a seven-year contract in exchange for the lead role of Tom Joad, how do we see this as a reflection of entrenched power within the Hollywood studio system?

-In what way does Tom’s “I will be there” speech embody the American spirit?

-How does THE GRAPES OF WRATH depict the exodus of farmers in rural America during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression?

-What did you think of Ma Joad’s monologue at the end of the film when she says to Pa, “a woman can change better than a man can”? Do you think the Joad women are more adaptable than the Joad men during the journey to California?

-What was the response to the novel and film’s release and why did some call for boycotts?

-Do the film and its themes of displacement, marginalization and social justice still resonate today?

-How would you rate THE GRAPES OF WRATH?

In this exclusive AFI Archive video, Jane and Peter Fonda talk about their father, Peter Fonda, star of THE GRAPES OF WRATH:

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.

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