The Grapes of Wrath
DIRECTED by John Ford
PRODUCED by Nunnally Johnson & Darryl F Zanuck
SCREENPLAY by Nunnally Johnson
FROM THE NOVEL by John Steinbeck
ORIGINAL MUSIC by Alfred Newman (Randy Newman’s uncle)
CINEMATOGRAPHY by Gregg Toland
ART DIRECTION by Richard Day & Mark-Lee Kirk
The Ideal was a little movie theater around the corner from the 5&10 cent store my grandfather managed in Corsicana, Texas. This theater wasn’t much; there was another place in town with pretensions to being a movie palace. The Ideal had none. My grandmother’s name was Mae Van, but we all called her Nina (NIGH-na, not NEE-na), don’t ask me why. For all I know she may have been a big movie fan in the ’30s and ’40s, but I’d never seen her go to a movie when I was a child. Then one day a poster went up for The Grapes of Wrath at the Ideal. Nina got very excited. She and some of her friends were going to see it, and she invited me along.
This was maybe 1958, ‘59, in there. (The theater had whites on the ground floor, “colored” in a wrap-around balcony, like in To Kill a Mockingbird, that’s how long ago it was!) The movie was at least 18 years old, and they had all seen it several times, this in a day when people just did not go to see movies repeatedly. I was 11 or 12. I knew nothing of the Depression, or Okies. Corsicana is in northeast Texas, not far from Dallas, on the edges of the Dust Bowl. I can see now that this movie was important to these women because they had been there. Not as desperate as the Joad’s, I don’t think, but it was hard times for everyone.
They all cried at the end. And though I tried to hide it (boys don’t cry, especially at the movies), I cried, too, only the second time I had ever cried at a movie (first: Bambi). I still do, every time I see it.