The Grapes of Wrath is a left-wing parable, directed by a right-wing American director, about how a sharecropper’s son, a barroom brawler, is converted into a union organizer. The message is boldly displayed, but told with characters of such sympathy and images of such beauty that audiences leave the theater feeling more pity than anger or resolve. It’s a message movie, but not a recruiting poster (…) The novel and movie do last, I think, because they are founded in real experience and feeling. My parents were scarred by the Depression, it was a remembered devastation I sensed in their very tones of voice, and The Grapes of Wrath shows half a nation with the economic rug pulled out from under it. The story, which seems to be about the resiliency and courage of « the people, » is built on a foundation of fear: Fear of losing jobs, land, self-respect. To those who had felt that fear, who had gone hungry or been homeless, it would never become dated. And its sense of injustice, I believe, is still relevant. — Roger Ebert, 2002.
It is an absorbing, tense melodrama, starkly realistic, and loaded with social and political fireworks. — John C. Flinn Sr., 1940.