Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 3, No. 7
Film Review - the Grapes of Wrath
Film Review - the Grapes of Wrath.
"And we whom winter days oppress
May find some work to hand.......
While conserving the main lines of John Steinbeck's novel, the film version of "The Grapes of Wrath" is given a [unclear: rather] different orientation. It seems as though, in their attempt to avoid the "blasphemous coprology" of the book, the screen-adaptors have also - unconsciously, no doubt - hinted that the life the lower classes, like its language, is not always quite so bad as it would seem, and that even if it is, no one can help it: the picture ends on a rather unjustified note of hope - the remnants of page break the Joad family are on their way to 20 days steady work; and, at the beginning, we have the naive statement that the events to follow are "due to economic circumtances beyond anyone's control.
Apart from this, however, the film is excellent. In scenes such as Tom's parting from his mother, towards the end of the film, it would have been fatally easy to [unclear: ruin] the character- presentation and the value of the story with typical cinema hysterics and gooey sentimentality; actually, this is one of the best scenes in the film. A similar scene is that in which Mully tells Tom of the "peaceful liquidation" of the surrounding farmers.
The characters are excellent - Henry Fonda as Tom Joad gave a very convincing and powerful performance it Would have been very easy to make a slapdash Gable Job of this role. Casy, too, is very good - his is a rather symbolic character, and John Carradine had the ability to portray it well. Ma Joad is a much more powerful character than Pat taken as a pair, these two are not so well represented as Granma and Granpa (in whose part Charlie Grapewin gave a sterling performance); although, as a single [unclear: charsecter], Ma is the best of the four. Rosasharn is rather unconvincing, lacks the realism of the others; and Connie, largely because his role is relatively less important, tends to be the same.
The photography was splendid. The intense dramatic power of film technique was never better presented than in some of the scenes in this picture. Nature shots were unusually convincing.
On the whole, then, "The Grapes of wrath" is a powerful film: the realism of the action wipes out fairly effectively the influence of the "sops to Cerberus" some moral soul has had inserted (at the instigation of the United Temperance Societies, no doubt). Despite the presence, in the seat in front, of a snoring soldier, and behind us, of three badly repressed youths, we came out well satisfied.
K. J. H.