Last night we watched The Grapes of Wrath on TCM. It was my first time viewing John Ford's powerful film based on Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece. Not surprisingly I was deeply moved by the poignant portrayal of the Joad family; the Oklahoma share-croppers' journey to California in search of work during the Great Depression is filled with one hardship after another. The book's ending is darker than the film's where we see the family's survival and determination in the face of so much pain and loss. I prefer the film version; I think we need that faith and sheer grit to thrive and that the beauty of the human spirit is that we do.
I didn't require quite as many tissues as I did for this year's Les Miserables but I did my fair share of sobbing.
If you haven't seen the film - or seen it in awhile - I heartily recommend it (duh!); it's remarkably timely.
Fonda was nominated for an Oscar in 1940 for his work on the film; he lost the Best Actor to Jimmy Stewart for Philadelphia Story. When I think of this year's nominees for Best Actor, Daniel Day-Lewis' performance in Lincoln comes closest to capturing the power of Fonda's performance. The fact that they both deal with themes of freedom and man's strength of spirit is no surprise. Great themes. Great writing. Great performances.
Take a look at Henry Fonda delivering some of the most powerful words in the English language in this segment from an AFI tribute.