1940 / 1945

Film #125: The Grapes of Wrath (1940) & Film #126: The Lost Weekend (1945)

Unfortunately not all of the Best Picture nominees can be as light-hearted as the two in the previous posts. So as we continue this catch-up week, let’s look back at a duo of films that deal with hard-hitting themes.


We start with John Ford’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath focuses on a family who are going through joblessness and depression and have to hit the road in order to find a better life. Henry Fonda’s lead performance as Tom Joad is particularly effective but he lost out to a lesser performance from Stewart in The Philadelphia Story. Ford won a deserved Best Director Oscar and the film also won a Best Supporting Actress for Jane Darwell for playing the Joad matriarch desperately trying to keep her family together.

The Grapes of Wrath didn’t win Best Picture but one that did triumph was The Lost Weekend which looks at an author who is unable to control his alcoholism and goes on a bender. The Lost Weekend did seem like a bit of an odd choice because of its lead being a bit of an anti-hero and to an extent never finding redemption but a cracking script and Ray Milland’s lead performance both see the piece becoming a classic. Milland, the script and director Billy Wilder all also won Oscars but the brilliant cinematography failed to capture glory despite it being one of the things that made the film great.

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