Reading Grapes of Wrath is numerously different than watching the movie released a year later, that is something many can vouch on that have seen both the film and read the book.
There are a lot of opinions on why the movie decided to go with the Hollywood Ending it did, and I want to mention a reason I feel it was.
The very last speech Ma gave after Tom had left and they were on the road again was a speech about being strong without a doubt, and alluded to everything working out in the end as long as they stayed tough and stuck it out in a sense.
It was a “Hollywood ending” that many considered to be filmed and put in the finalization of the film because it was the most popular of endings at the time and everyone likes a happy ending.
Yes, thats true, who wouldn’t want a happy ending. However, I don’t feel that was their only motive to profit and make money. There also wasn’t the sole idea that people would watch and feel “okay everything is solved, time to go back to our happy lives” once the movie was over.
There was a mass love of the novel for the way it made people feel, for the truth in the words written, and seen through the eyes of the readers.
The fact that Steinbeck had the guts to write about such a time is amazing. The fact that he poured every ounce of sorrow and hope and sorrow and hope and sorrow, sorrow, sorrow sadly at the end is something that should be recognized. And it was recognized massively when it was published in 1939.
Movies were the place to be in the 30s and 40s, that was what to us now is social media or Netflix. And interested not only younger generations, but older ones too.
So once a book came out that everyone was talking about, of course the movie has to be seen whether reading the book or not… But for the people that didn’t read the book– seeing a version of the film with as depressing an ending as the novel would hurt.
Now, yes, maybe with the ending in the film being similar to the novel it could’ve had the effect of never forgetting such a horrible time and further resolving the situation of The Great Depression with a plan of action if it were to come again.
But if it were to be as depressing as the ending in the novel, it could’ve had the effect of depressing the viewers and making them lose hope in humanity, if you will.
Watching the film as it was made, with the Hollywood Ending everyone knows and loves opens the hearts of people that didn’t see the effects of The Great Depression firsthand. In a fictional novel, yes, but surrounding something everyone has in common which is family, and the different effects it has on different members, and the people we meet along the way.
The great depression neared the end after 10 years in 1939, for people that went through it; why would they want to revisit a horrible ending when they either knew people, or of people that had gone through scraping whatever food they could find together, not being paid decent money for their hard labor, not having a steady roof over their heads… the view into Toms family provided them with a happy ending rather than a terrible one they themselves might have known.
Hope is more powerful than fear, in other words (quoted from both Suzanne Collins and Robert Ludlum).
This is just my perception on why Hollywood went with the ending they did, besides making money and getting views. I can understand other viewpoints as to why it doesn’t work and why it was finished the way it was but I’d like to believe it wasn’t solely because Hollywood had an agenda.
I’d love to hear what you think.
Thanks for reading,