Film critic Michael Wilmington interviews Studs Terkel at Facets Cinematheque in Chicago as part of a screening of John Ford's 1940 "Grapes of Wrath," an adaptation of John Steinbeck's book of the same name.
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0:18Copy video clip URL Video begins. Studs Terkel goes up to the stage and talks with Michael Wilmington for a bit before the movie starts. They talk about the timeliness of Studs choosing to host this film. Wilmington gives context for the film. Video cuts for the presentation of the movie.
5:30Copy video clip URL Studs and Wilmington return to take the stage. Studs remarks that, “it’s as if I’ve seen this movie for the first time in my life. It’s about the fifteenth time at least.” He talks about the nuances of the film and starts talking about some of the different aspects that speak to him. He starts talking about the government at the time of the video (George W. Bush) and talks about how that’s relevant because Ford symbolically included the government at that time (FDR) into the film. Terkel then talks about how he always puts Grapes of Wrath in his top 10 favorite films and talks about how personal and life-changing both the book and the movie are. He also talks about the number of young people in the audience.
18:20Copy video clip URL Wilmington takes over the mic for a bit and talks about how Ford contributed to the film. Wilmington talks about the typecasting that Ford got into after this point with Westerns that John Wayne starred in, namely Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Informer. He continues to talk about the liberal philosophy of John Ford and how he contributed that to this film. Terkel then takes over the mic again and talks about the diner scene and how this exemplifies the connection between people in the Depression era, how people were willing to help each other out and give a show of solidarity because everyone was suffering and if you could help someone out in any way, you did. He brings up a term that he coined, “a National Alzheimer’s Disease,” with regards to how the United States is forgetting its history and thus is repeating said history, which is why the Grapes of Wrath resonates so strongly.
26:54Copy video clip URL Terkel passes the mic over to Wilmington to talk about “the other stuff.” Wilmington talks about the acting of that year and how this wasn’t the original casting but how it works regardless. Wilmington and Terkel both go off on tangents about different actors in the film.
37:40Copy video clip URL Wilmington calls for the start of the Q&A session and after a bit the audience asks Terkel questions. The first woman asks about the current political situation, although the question is a bit vague, and Terkel doesn’t clearly answer either. The next question is why Ford changed Steinbeck’s ending and Wilmington pretty much answers that the original ending would not have flown because of sexual and religious issues. Terkel mentions the leaders of the Democratic party as a “castrati chorus,” and very soon after that Terkel calls an end to the event and they both leave the stage.
45:04Copy video clip URL Video ends.