On this July 4th Eve, let us consider what could be more American than Steven Spielberg and John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath? Well, it might be coming together.
Mike Fleming Jr. of Deadline reported last night that Spielberg and DreamWorks are trying to secure the rights to Steinbeck's classic novel with the author's estate. Of course, unlike The Great Gatsby, a Great American Novel with no Great American Film, there has already been a fantastic filmed version of The Grapes of Wrath: the 1940 John Ford film starring Henry Fonda. Ford won the Academy Award.
Now Spielberg may not take on Ford, one of his idols, himself. Fleming reports that he'd "also heard that Spielberg was eyeing it to direct, but DreamWorks said definitively that he is only interested in producing the picture, and will absolutely not direct it." Still, with Spielberg behind a new adaptation—whether or not he's in the director's chair—we doubt the film would be a revisionist take on the novel. Somehow we don't think The Grapes of Wrath would work with excessive amounts of glitter or Jay-Z. However, Spielberg and crew could hold to true to Steinbeck's original—and ultimately more depressing—ending. (Though we're not sure how willing Spielberg would be to do that since optimism is in his blood.)
But really, if you ever need a good cry, just watch Henry Fonda do Tom Joad's "I'll be there" speech from the 1940 version. Got your tissues ready?