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The Grapes Of Wrath

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Let us now praise a famous cameraman: Gregg Toland. On this freshly burnished edition of John Ford’s dust bowl saga, it’s a kick to rediscover how integral Toland’s black-and-white cinematography is to the film’s rich sentiment and visual grace. The close-ups of desperate, haunted men and women have a stark eloquence. Interior scenes, some shot in a simulation of flickery candlelight, pulse with a chiaroscuro sadness. The subjective shot of the Joads arriving at a squalid camp is eerily dreamlike. It’s gorgeous, jaw-dropping work, rivaling Toland’s deep-focus artistry in Citizen Kane. EXTRAS Ford biographer Joseph McBride and Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw banter interestingly (Ford wanted to end the film just before Darwell’s ”we’re the people” speech) and irritatingly (a debate about Steinbeck’s position on Vietnam runs too long). Meanwhile, the searing images keep burning through.