The Grapes of Wrath 1940 Film

Book to Movie: Stephen Spielberg in Talks for John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’

Grapes of Wrath

[Editor’s Note: We’re excited to debut a new column from Belle Wong, who will be covering book adaptations in our “Based on the Book” section. You can read all of Belle’s Reel Life With Jane stories here, and be sure to click through to her site, to learn more about Belle and see what she’s reading … Jane]

A new version of John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer-prize winning “Grapes of Wrath” may be coming to the big screen in the near future! Deadline reports that Stephen Spielberg and DreamWorks are in discussions with Steinbeck’s estate to acquire the rights to make another “The Grapes of Wrath” movie.

For many, “The Grapes of Wrath” was required reading in high school. Some of us may have also had the chance to screen the original 1940 movie version of “The Grapes of Wrath” in the classroom as a supplement to the novel.

Directed by John Ford, who won an Oscar for his efforts, the film also snagged an Academy Award for Jane Darwell as Best Supporting Actress. The film garnered five other Oscar nominations, including a Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination for Henry Fonda.

The Grapes of Wrath 1940 Film
Dorris Bowdon, Jane Darwell and Henry Fonda in the 1940 film version of “The Grapes of Wrath” | 20th Century Fox

Set during the Depression era, the novel is about the Joads, an Oklahoma farming family who are driven off their farm due to drought and economic circumstances; the book chronicles their desperate journey to California in search of a better life. It’s not an upbeat read, but gives an unstinting look at what life was like for many of the poor migrating from the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression.

Check out the trailer for the original film version of “The Grapes of Wrath,” and tell us your thoughts in the comments below. Are you excited for a new film version of “The Grapes of Wrath”?


3 responses to “Book to Movie: Stephen Spielberg in Talks for John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’”

  1. Bryan G. Robinson Avatar

    I wrote about the original movie years ago on a former blog I had. It was my choice for worst book-to-movie adaptation and I still stand by that. It completely ripped the heart out of the book, in my opinion, and remade it into a jingoistic, capitalistic view when that wasn’t Steinbeck’s intent, at least from what I’ve read. From a cinematography point of view, the original was brilliant, but the story line, especially the ending, left a lot to be desired. I welcome any chance there is to make the ending the way Steinbeck wrote…and intended it.

    1. Belle Wong Avatar

      The producers of the original movie put a more happy spin to the ending, didn’t they? And left out all the stuff they thought was controversial. It will be interesting to see how Spielberg will adapt the novel, if he does end up with the rights to film a new version.

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