A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This movie shows the goodness and decency of the "common man," even if he isn't perfect and even when facing terrible poverty and economic injustice. Themes include integrity and courage.
Positive Role Models
Forced off their land in Oklahoma, the Joad family do their best to take care of and love each other as they travel to California to find work, despite tremendous difficulties, dire poverty, and poor odds. Characters demonstrate perseverance, compassion, and humility.
Violence & Scariness
A woman is shot and killed by a police officer. Police club a man to death with a billy club. A man with a rifle threatens to shoot and kill a man on the verge of bulldozing his home. Family members die on the journey.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters smoke cigarettes and pipes and chew tobacco. Early in the movie, two characters pass a bottle of whiskey back and forth and drink from it but do not act intoxicated.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Grapes of Wrath is the classic John Ford-directed adaptation of the classic John Steinbeck novel. There are some brief moments of violence throughout the film: A woman is accidentally shot and killed by a police officer, police and "Okies" do battle with fists and billy clubs, and a man threatens to kill another man with a rifle as he's on the verge of bulldozing his home. Also, as it's a movie from 1940 set during the Great Depression, there is some smoking and tobacco chewing. Overall, for 21st-century families, this film is still an all-important chronicle of a difficult time in American history and raises still-relevant questions about poverty, farm work, and the enormous gaps between the rich and the poor, in this country and throughout the world. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The acting, from Henry Fonda down to the smallest parts, is a truly fantastic achievement that goes far toward making this film as unforgettable today as it was when it came out in 1940. Through John Steinbeck's unforgettable characters and story, director John Ford presents a vision of the American West during the Great Depression, a wide-lensed vision of big skies, vast fields, and a brutal and unforgiving economic climate.
What is especially striking about watching this movie today is how so many of The Grapes of Wrath's themes -- economic disparity, tensions between labor and capital, and the worth and dignity of the "common man" -- still resonate to this day, despite being set during the Great Depression. All in all, the result is a film that cuts to the core of both the obstacles, problems, and, ultimately, redemption for those in pursuit of "the American Dream."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.