Skip to main content

#086 John Ford: The Grapes of Wrath vs. Tobacco Road



Download MP3 In today's episode Nate and Austin compare John Ford's best and worst rated films, The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and Tobacco Road (1941), respectively. Nate hates old people, Austin has a crush on Henry Fonda, and they both are surprised at the lack of western. Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York (2008) and Anomalisa (2015), his best and worst rated films.
Also check out this interview with director John Ford: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2P2fY75Qlxs

Tobacco Road Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A poor family in rural Georgia struggles to make ends meet as the clan's father proudly refuses help at every turn.
  • Ratings: IMDb 6.6 | RT N/A C / 36% A
  • Released: 1940
  • Director: John Ford
  • Writer(s): Erskine Caldwell (based on the novel by), Jack Kirkland (stage play), Nunnally Johnson (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Arthur C. Miller (Anna and the King of Siam, The Song of Bernadette)
  • Notable actors: Charley Grapewin, Marjorie Rambeau, Gene Tierney, William Tracy, Elizabeth Patterson, Dana Andrews, Slim Summerville, Ward Bond
  • Budget: N/A
  • Box office: $1.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews get barely 5 minutes of screen time each. Gene gets just half a dozen lines to speak
    • The Broadway play by Jack Kirkland based on Erskine Caldwell's novel opened 4 December 1933 and set a record for longevity on Broadway when it closed on 31 May 1941 after 3,281 performances. It was revived on Broadway twice in the next two years, bring its total running time there to nearly ten years (1933-1943). Opened at the Theatre Masque and then moved to the 48th Street Theatre followed by the Forrest Theatre for the original production. The play was revived in 1942, 1943 and 1950. The original Broadway production is the seventeenth longest running show ever as of February, 2013.
    • The early-1941 Ford Super De Luxe Convertible Club Coupe, driven by Harvey Parry, survived its ordeal. During filming it had been crashed into a 100-year-old sycamore tree, then backed out of the debris and driven fast to jump over a 20-foot stream (with the aid of a ramp), and thereafter smashed through several fences, sideswiped a two-ton truck (forcing the truck off the road), rammed through a tool shed (cut from final release), jumped a curb, splintered a park bench, rammed a station wagon, ran into two other trees and skidded until finally overturning. Following this, the car was set right by the crew and driven back to the studio by Parry. A studio employee, Arthur Webb, purchased the badly-damaged convertible from 20th Century-Fox and, with his brother Don, commenced to repair it with hundreds of hours of personal labor and $125 in new parts from a Beverly Hills dealership.
    • The movie was banned in Australia for unspecified reasons, but generally had few censorship problems.

The Grapes of Wrath Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.
  • Ratings: IMDb 8.1 | RT 100% C / 88% A
  • Released: 1940
  • Director: John Ford
  • Writer(s): Nunnally Johnson (screenplay), John Steinbeck (based on the novel by)
  • Cinematographer: Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane, Wuthering Heights, The Best Years of Our Lives)
  • Notable actors: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin, Dorris Bowdon, Russell Simpson, O.Z. Whitehead, John Qualen, Eddie Quillan, Zeffie Tilbury, Frank Sully
  • Budget: $800 thousand
  • Box office: $2.5 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Prior to filming, producer Darryl F. Zanuck sent undercover investigators out to the migrant camps to see if John Steinbeck had been exaggerating about the squalor and unfair treatment meted out there. He was horrified to discover that, if anything, Steinbeck had actually downplayed what went on in the camps.
    • John Steinbeck loved the movie and said that Henry Fonda as Tom Joad made him "believe my own words".
    • 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.
    • John Steinbeck was particularly enamored with the performance of Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, feeling that he perfectly encapsulated everything he wanted to convey with this character. The two became good friends. Indeed Fonda did a reading at Steinbeck's funeral.
    • Henry Fonda kept the hat he wore in the movie for the rest of his life, until before he passed away in 1982 he gave it to his old friend Jane Withers. Apparently he and Withers, when she was an 8 year old girl and he a young man, did a play together before Fonda made movies. Fonda was so nervous to go onstage that little Jane took his hand, said a little prayer to ease his nerves, and the two of them became good friends for life.
    • The pro-union stance of the film led to both John Steinbeck and John Ford being investigated by Congress during the McCarthy "Red Scare" era for alleged pro-Communist leanings.
    • While filming the Joads' car traveling down the highway, John Ford wanted to add a shot showing the large number of caravans heading west, so the film's business manager stopped actual cars making the trek and paid the drivers five dollars to escort the Joads' jalopy for the cameras.
    • Noah Joad simply vanishes after the scene of the family swimming in the Colorado River. In the book, Noah tells Tom he has decided to stay by the river. In the film, his disappearance is never explained.
    • The production had a fake working title, "Highway 66", so that the shoot of the controversial novel would not be affected by union problems. Much of the dire straits portrayed in the film continued during and after the release of the movie.
    • When Darryl F. Zanuck suggested to John Ford that, to create an upbeat ending, he use Ma Joad's "we're the people" monologue for a closing scene, Ford told Zanuck to direct it himself - which he did.
    • The film was one of the first to be voted onto the National Film Registry (1989).
    • Although John Carradine hated John Ford's bullying style of direction, he nevertheless made eleven films with him over a period of 28 years. Ford was particularly keen on Carradine's unusual look.

Intro music by Eric Lynch

Check out this episode!

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Richard Armitage interview on SLEEPWALKER

SLEEPWALKER is the latest film from director Elliott Lester. Troubled by bouts of sleepwalking and disturbing nightmares, graduate student Sarah Foster goes to her university's sleep research center for help. When she wakes up after her first night of being monitored, the world she lives in seems to have changed in subtle, Twilight-Zone-esque ways. In fact, every time she goes to sleep now, she wakes up in a slightly different version of her world. With the help of sleep researcher Dr. Scott White, she tries to work her way back to the reality she started in. But when they finally succeed, it’s revealed that Sarah’s world is not what she thought at all.

Today my guest is one of the stars SLEEPWALKER, Richard Armitage. Tonight we talk about his work on that film as well as his work as Thorin Oakenshiled in The Hobbit Films, as John Proctor in The Crucible, and his upcoming films Ocens 8 and the Julie Delpy directed film My Zoe.

Sleepwalker is Now Available on Digital HD and On Dem…

LAFF Review AND THEN THERE WAS EVE

2017
Directed By: Savannah Bloch
Starring: Tania Nolan, Rachel Crowl, Mary Holland, Karan Soni, John Kassir, and Anne Gee Byrd



Alyssa (Nolan) wakes up to find her home pillaged and her husband missing. The burglars have taken everything, down to the photos of her husband. The police offer little help so she turns to a friend of the family Eve (Crowl) for assistance. The film is less of a "who done it" and more of a "what happened."

The prolonged second act of the film focuses on the relationship between Eve and Alyssa. The suspense of the film lingers in the background while their relationship grows. In fact, clues of what is to come are clearly laid out in a way that allows the viewer to see where the film is headed before it gets there. I'm not sure if this is by design but the effect of having the stories trajectory clearly laid out gives the audience permission to accept this blossoming relationship.

Nolan and Crowl both give stunning performances that anc…

99 FROM 99: Cruel Intentions

On our latest episode of99 FROM 99, one host discovers some disturbing secrets about his co-host. All will be revealed in this episode on guilty pleasure CRUEL INTENTIONS! Namely that one host disagrees with the verdict of feeling guilt for enjoying this look at the cutthroat world of the powerful and wealthy transported to the realm of high school drama. Meanwhile the other host just feels bad for Selma Blair and all parties involved, including our dear listeners. Did we mention to give us a follow and a listen at the links below? Support what we do with bonus content and early episodes onPatreon Listen iTunes/Podbean Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: @99from99