In The Grapes of Wrath (Twentieth Century Fox, director John Ford, 1940) the Joad clan, introduced to the world in John Steinbeck’s iconic novel, is looking for a better life in California. After their drought-ridden farm is seized by the bank, the family — led by just-paroled son Tom (Henry Fonda) — loads up a truck and heads west. On the road, beset by hardships, the Joads meet dozens of other families making the same trek and holding on to the same dream. Once in California, however, the Joads soon realize that the promised land isn’t quite what they hoped.
Charleston native Gregg Toland (1904-1948) was the film’s cinematographer. Toland moved with his mother to Los Angeles in 1915 and became one of Hollywood’s most innovative and sought-after cinematographers. He photographed numerous Academy Award-winning films, including Citizen Kane, The Best Years of Our Lives and Wuthering Heights, among others. A brief biography of Toland, including his early years in central Illinois and his cinematic contributions, will provide an introduction to the screening.
Kit Morice is the curator of education for the Tarble Arts Center, EIU, where she organizes educational and community engagement programs. In 2004 she helped plan and present a community festival, “Gregg Toland Day,” to recognize the centennial of his birth at 409 Van Buren Ave. near downtown Charleston. Morice’s research interests include Latin American and Native American art forms, regional history and vernacular architecture. She is active in historic preservation efforts, serving on the Charleston Historic Preservation Commission and the Coles County Historic Preservation Advisory Council.