The Grapes of Wrath (1940) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)



Critic Consensus: A potent drama that is as socially important today as when it was made, The Grapes of Wrath is affecting, moving, and deservedly considered an American classic.

The Grapes of Wrath Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

The adaptation of Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of dirt-poor Dust Bowl migrants by 4-time Oscar-winning director John Ford starred Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, who opens the movie returning to his Oklahoma home after serving jail time for manslaughter. En route, Tom meets family friend Casey (John Carradine), a former preacher who warns Tom that dust storms, crop failures, and new agricultural methods have financially decimated the once prosperous Oklahoma farmland. Upon returning to his family farm, Tom is greeted by his mother (Oscar-winner Jane Darwell), who tells him that the family is packing up for the "promised land" of California. Warned that they shouldn't expect a warm welcome in California--they've already seen the caravan of dispirited farmers, heading back home after striking out at finding work--the Joads push on all the same. Their first stop is a wretched migrant camp, full of starving children and surrounded by armed guards. Further down the road, the Joads drive into an idyllic government camp, with clean lodging, indoor plumbing, and a self-governing clientele. When Tom ultimately bids goodbye to his mother, who asks him where he'll go, he delivers the film's most famous speech: "I'll be all around...Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat...Whenever there's a cop beating a guy, I'll be there...And when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build. I'll be there too."more
Rating: G
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Nunnally Johnson
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 6, 2004
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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Henry Fonda
as Tom Joad
Jane Darwell
as Ma Joad
Charles Grapewin
as Grandpa Joad
Dorris Bowdon
as Rosaharn
Doris Bowden
as Rosasharn
Charley Grapewin
as Grandpa Joad
John Qualen
as Muley Graves
Eddie Quillan
as Connie Rivers
Eddie Quillen
as Connie Rivers
Zeffie Tilbury
as Grandma Joad
Frank Darien
as Uncle John
Darryl Hickman
as Winfield Joad
Shirley Mills
as Ruth Joad
Ward Bond
as Policeman
Frank Faylen
as Tim Wallace
Joe Sawyer
as Accountant
Hollis Jewell
as Muley's Son
Selmer Jackson
as Inspector
Eddy Waller
as Proprietor
Cliff Clark
as Townsman
Irving Bacon
as Conductor
Jack Pennick
as Committeeman
Walter McGrail
as Gang Leader
Tom Tyler
as Sheriff
Robert "Buddy" Shaw
as Gas Station Attendan...
Ralph Dunn
as Deputy
Ted Oliver
as State Policeman
Gloria Roy
as Waitress
Erville Alderson
as Arkansas Storekeeper
Harry Strang
as Fred the Truck Drive...
Inez Palange
as Woman in Camp
Louis Mason
as Man in Camp
Harry Tenbrook
as Deputy/Troublemaker
Walter Miller
as New Mexico Border Gu...
William Haade
as Deputy Driver
Selmar Jackson
as Inspector
Peggy Ryan
as Hungry Girl
Wally Albright
as Boy Who Ate
Mae Marsh
as Floyd's Wife
Francis Ford
as (unconfirmed) (uncre...
Shirley "Muggsy" Coa...
as Girl in Migrant Camp
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Grapes of Wrath

Critic Reviews for The Grapes of Wrath

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (7)

Movies will probably go on improving and broadening themselves; but in any event, The Grapes of Wrath is the most mature picture story that has ever been made, in feeling, in purpose, and in the use of the medium.

Full Review… | August 29, 2012
The New Republic
Top Critic

Ford's admirers have rightly tended to play this down in favor of his later and more personal westerns, but there's much to admire here in Gregg Toland's sun-beaten photography and Henry Fonda's meticulous performance.

Full Review… | April 27, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The Grapes of Wrath is possibly the best picture ever made from a so-so book.

Full Review… | April 27, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

It is an absorbing, tense melodrama, starkly realistic, and loaded with social and political fireworks.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Captures the stark plainness of the migrants, stripped to a few possessions, left with innumerable relations and little hope.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The Grapes of Wrath is, in fact, the greatest master- piece the screen has ever produced; in it John Ford has established in vivid and inescapable terms the knowledge of good and evil.

Full Review… | November 3, 2015
The Spectator

Audience Reviews for The Grapes of Wrath


Ford and Johnson were able to transpose Steinbeck's powerful masterpiece into a splendid film that preserves its essence (even with a different, upbeat ending) without infringing the infamous demands of the Hays Code - yet it also seems a bit rushed and lacking in sufficient information (e.g., Noah vanishing without explanation).

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

It can be a bit slow and some scenes are unnecessary, but this is usually the case with all films this old. On the other hand, it's well made and at times very powerful. I especially love the end when Tom Joad makes an important decision with his life. Some scenes are suspenseful (well, 1940s suspenseful) and the characters are interesting for the most part. Probably John Ford's best film.

Market Man
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer


An amazing film. Just as relevant today.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

The Grapes of Wrath Quotes

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