The word that comes in most handily for The Grapes of Wrath is magnificent. 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. You can drag out classics (it is often safer not to go back and see them) and you can roll off names in different tongues and times. But this is a best that has no very near comparison to date.
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 as Steinbeck's dashboard saint, Tom Joad.
This famous film, high on most lists of the greatest films of all time, seems all wrong - phony when it should ring true. Yet, because of the material, it is often moving in spite of the acting, the directing, and the pseudo-Biblical pore-people talk.