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September 2003, Week 3


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"Peter C. Rollins" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 15 Sep 2003 10:11:02 EDT
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In a message dated 9/15/03 12:01:42 AM Central Daylight Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:
Date:    Sat, 13 Sep 2003 21:53:33 EDT
From:    Kathy Fuller <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: "Grapes of Wrath" and the Production Code?

Hi, I am teaching a new course on film and history of the Great Depression,
and I am having students compare the Steinbeck novel with the film release of
"The Grapes of Wrath." I am having a hard time finding details about the
translation to the screen, meaning what hoops did John Ford have to jump
through with author, studio (Fox) and the Production Code/Hays Office to get
film made. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you very much, Kathy
Georgia State University
Dear Kathy,

    Sorry not to answer your direct question, but just in case, here are a few
helpful sources:

Bluestone, _Novels into Film_, has a good chapter on Grapes...

Sobchack has a terrific essay on the adaptation in _Hollywood as Historian_
    Peter Rollins, UP of Kentucky, 1998. 68-87.

Warren French, one of the leading scholars of Steinbeck, has a _Film Guide to

Lewis Owens (d.2002), a fine human being and talented writer,
     wrote an excellent overview of the novel five years or so ago.

A look at the files (now public) of the various Hollywood censorship agencies
might yield some interesting information.

As you know, there are some really tasteless moments in the film as well as
sacrilegious moments as well.  Indeed, there are little touches of barnyard
which would be repulsive to any educated person--and it was such gaffes which
caused the book to be banned by a number of libraries.   The final scene is
and shocking, even today.

Finally, there is a MA thesis be Ben DeWitt at Oklahoma State on the Oklahoma
reception of the film.  Many of the colorful items are discussed there as is
"Heckle California" campaign which was started shortly after the film
As Will Rogers said,  the migration of Okies to California had the benefit of
the IQ of both states.

In any case, you have a good approach to the film and please tell us what you
come up with when you are done...

Peter Rollins
Film & History
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