I think a lot of people may be expecting one of my longer reviews for this one but I am going to try and make it shorter, because there isn't much to say except that this is a masterpiece (and although there is a change of tone at the end, and some censorship of the book, I understand why it was necessary because of the time), and mostly I will just offer my counter to a couple of common complaints people wrongly have about this movie.
I think the biggest complaint I ever see is how the movie re-arranges the order of the migrant camps and censors some important parts of the book (such as the woman breatfeeding the sick man) but I have to say that given the time it was understandable. Also, it was John Ford's take on Grapes of Wrath and while Steinback's book was a masterpiece (and yes better than the film) this movie is also a masterpiece in its own way. Yes, the ending is more optimistic but it rings much of the same message that the novel yielded, it was just made more subtle and more hopeful, which again given the time it was made I can see why it was necessary. That being said, that makes me very open to the re-make that Spielberg is doing for the novels 75th anniversary because it can adapt the book and not feel like a remake of this movie. The book and film for Grapes of Wrath are different, but they are both still powerful, impactful, and bring the same important, timeless themes.
Another complaint I have heard (not often) was they thought the acting was bad, and the best thing to say is that they clearly haven't watched much film from this era. A lot of the older, classic films are done in a different acting style (You can make an exception with Citizen Kane) and filmed differently than they are today, and for an important reason. The acting that you see in many classic films, such as Grapes of Wrath, is done much closer to stage acting and putting on a recording a stage like play without the limitations a stage play has. Eventually, with movies like Citizen Kane (which is why this movie is so important) you see filmmakers learning they aren't limited like you are on stage and they can provide a much more realistic approach to the story that a stage play couldn't because of its restrictiveness. Even if you don't have this knowledge of why the acting seems weird to you (it's a different acting style, a different style does NOT make the acting bad) it's fairly to realize that the performances in this movie are fantastic, they are iconic, powerful, and continue to be remembered and watched to this day.
Now I am going to take a brief moment to talk about what makes this film so powerful (since this is a movie review I won't touch on the book that much, but the book is just (actually probably more) as impactful) and it has to be that the movie completely depicts the era, it may be fictional but the migrant workers were not fictional, what they went through was not fictional, and the themes showed the importance for the migrant workers to keep their dignity. The film shows how man will turn against man when he has fear of losing his power and that one of the greatest struggles at the time was not the Dustbowl, but the corruption of the few in power to stop others from ever being able to obtain anything, even if it meant having the thousands upon thousands starve or be beaten and die. Another important thing to note is many of those migrant camps shown in this movie were REAL migrant camps, there were many families that went through what the Joads went through, the movie depicted exactly how corrupt the powerful could actually get (in one of the more wealthy countries) and how they would (and did) treat the thousands in need like complete dogs because of the fear of losing any power.
I went a little longer with this review than I actually intended (I did not want to write an essay for this, to many people have analyzed this film and book enough to where I can't really contribute much more) but Grapes of Wrath is a powerful movie, with many impactful themes that continue to resonate in importance today as they did 70 years ago, it is a timeless classic that will never die.
10/10 Sticks of Bamboo