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John Steinbeck Movies & TV

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

The tagline screamed, "The thousands who have read the book will know why WE WILL NOT SELL ANY CHILDREN TICKETS to see this picture!" We are not quite sure why children should not learn about history, but then again we don't write movie posters. John Ford directed this film, one of the best interpretations of a Steinbeck novel ever to hit the big screen. Henry Fonda was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Tom Joad.

The Forgotten Village (1941)

John Steinbeck wrote the screenplay for this documentary about life in a Mexican village. Burgess Meredith narrated the film. You can download it here.

Lifeboat (1944)

John Steinbeck was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Story for this film about survivors of a torpedo attack stuck on the same lifeboat as the guys who torpedoed them. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Tallulah Bankhead, whose name we love to say, this is a great Hitchcock film that deserves a spot on your Netflix queue. Tallulah.

The Red Pony (1949)

It will take you about as much time to read Steinbeck's short novella about the bond between a boy and his pony as it will to watch this movie. It's probably better to read the book.

Viva Zapata! (1952)

John Steinbeck co-wrote the screenplay for this biopic of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata. It was directed by Elia Kazan and stars Marlon Brando in the title role. Steinbeck's screenplay was also nominated for an Academy Award. Worth a watch, especially if you have ever wondered what Marlon Brando would look like in a giant sombrero.

East of Eden (1955)

Another Elia Kazan take on a Steinbeck piece. James Dean stars as Cal Trask in this bleak portrayal of life in the Salinas Valley. Some critics have called it the doomed young star's best performance. In one scene, he pounds a desk so hard that he had to be taken to the hospital when filming stopped.

Of Mice and Men (1992)

Gary Sinise produced, directed and starred as George in this interpretation of Steinbeck's novella. John Malkovich, who creeps us out fabulously in everything he does, plays poor Lenny. Most of the best adaptations of Steinbeck's work were made during the black-and-white era. If you can't deal with a film unless it's in color, try this one.

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