THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1939)
About Author John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath is based on a book of the same title, written by American author, John Steinbeck. Steinbeck was born in 1902 and was the child of second-generation Americans living in California. He aspired to be a writer since his mid-teens and attended Stanford University in 1919 in order to pursue this career path. Steinbeck did not end up finishing college at this time and ended up working odd jobs while still trying to pursue a career in writing. Steinbeck’s first novel Cup of Gold was published in 1930 and after this, he began to be able to publish more and more short stories and novels, none with extreme successes though. His first commercially successful book, Tortilla Flat was published in 1934, which began a great period of Steinbeck’s successes in his works. Within the next few years he published and gained accolades on what are regarded as some of his most famous and greatest works including Of Mice and Men, In Dubious Battle, and The Grapes of Wrath .
Writing and Background on the novel The Grapes of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath is considered by many to be John Steinbeck’s greatest work. Steinbeck’s plethora of work is often divided into 3 distinct periods of focus in his works. The focus of theory that Steinbeck was into during this time was a focus on community or family as being essential to a human, that a “while is greater than, and different from, the sum of its parts” . This is reflected in The Grapes of Wrath through the family centered novel. The name is taken from “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. The work started out in investigative journalism as Steinbeck visited some migrant camps in the mid-thirties to investigate the practices of growers in California . His main focus in writing this work was on the migrants experiences, and used his writing to advocate for their civil rights as well as education to make their lives better .
Effects of the novel
At this time John Steinbeck was established and very popular, leading to the popularity of this particular novel. Within the pages, this timely novel explores family and survival while carrying biblical tones, through the depiction of an exodus. The Grapes of Wrath was an immediate success and since its original publishing has never been out of print. In 1940, Steinbeck won a Pulitzer prize for this book. This book was turned into a movie quickly, the movie rights were purchased within a month of publishing, and the movie debuted the year following .
THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)
John Ford’s 1940 The Grapes of Wrath
John Ford was an American director who has directed over 100 movies and had an influential career that lasted over 50 years. Ford was attracted to this work because he said the content struck him because of his strong Irish heritage. The poverty and exodus resembled that of the Irish potato famine. Because he saw this in the book he chose to try an depict these thoughts into his movie. This movie was a controversial piece to take on because it was banned in some regions because of the negative depiction of the treatment of migrant workers by law enforcement and the migrant camps but it was a piece Ford desired to take on .
Making The Grapes of Wrath
Darryl F. Zanuck, bought the film and wanted to depict the struggles and experiences of the migrant worker as accurately as possible. Steinbeck was worried about how Hollywood would depict such struggles but Zanuck claimed “the conditions are much worse than you reported” . Working with Fox production company, the budget was relatively low, $750,000, meaning that most of the movie was shot on Fox sound stages and nearby lots, along with occasional scenes shot on real migrant worker camps. Nunnally Johnson wrote the screenplay and wanted to stay as true to Steinbeck’s novel as possible. The working title during production was Highway 66 . Production on this movie was quick, it was shot in forty-three days and was ready for release two months later .
Effect of the movie
The movie was produced so quickly that the movie was able to come out while the novel was still on the bestsellers list, much to the finacial liking of the producer . After seeing the movie, Steinbeck was satisfied with the outcome. He claimed that “Zanuck has more than kept his word” . Author of Searching for John Ford, Name, claims that “what remains in powerful enough to make the film Hollywood’s Strongest indictment of depression era socioeconiomic conditions” because the movie stayed true to the book and the book was true to life .
The movie portrays the story of the migrants in a way that sheds light an explanation to those who haven’t experienced this migration, but are still a part of the American experience. Ford’s story puts emphasis on Jeffersonian ideals, meaning he prompts the imaginary migrants to look back on their past for an answer to their troubles, rather then emphasizing change and reform like the novel does .