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The Grapes Of Wrath, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Tower Heist, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, Went the Day Well?

THE GRAPES OF WRATH

John Steinbeck’s quintessential novel of America’s 1930s social-consciousness rude awakening receives a tender treatment from staunchly conservative director John Ford in this 1940 anomaly of Hollywood naturalism. Henry Fonda becomes Henry Fonda, the honest, hard-working American just trying to get by, with his portrayal of Tom Joad, the Oklahoma sharecropper who packs up his family and heads to California in search of a better life, only to find more woes in the land of dreams.

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The Grapes of Wrath

is riddled with such effectively mannered performances—particularly John Carradine’s ex-preacher Casy and Eddie Quillan’s driven-mad-by-desperation Connie. But the real star here is cinematographer Gregg Toland’s vérité camera work. Toland’s craftsmanship would be rightly laureled for the wildly imaginative work in

Citizen Kane

, but what he pulls off here is arguably more impressive. His low-light night shooting and fiercely unromantic portraits of migrant laborers’ conditions feel wind-swept dusty even today: The Joads’ arrival to a California shantytown is a Walker Evans photograph come to harrowing life. (Bret McCabe)

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE

Elizabeth Olsen stars in this much-buzzed-about drama centering on a young woman’s attempt to pick up the pieces of her life after leaving a cult.

Opens Nov. 4.

TOWER HEIST

Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, and Alan Alda star in a caper comedy. The hacktacular Brett Ratner directs.

Opens Nov. 4.

A VERY HAROLD AND KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS

We love Harold and Kumar (and Neil Patrick Harris) and this series of profane stoner comedies as much as the next doofuses, but a Christmas movie? In 3D?

Opens Nov. 4.

WENT THE DAY WELL?

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A small detachment of British soldiers shows up in a bucolic British hamlet during World War II and settles in among the accommodating locals. Except the soldiers aren’t actually British—they’re Germans in disguise (led by Basil Sydney and David Farrar), dispatched in secret to help lay the groundwork for a looming invasion, and soon the entire town is taken hostage by Nazis desperate to keep a lid on their presence. That’s the story of

Went the Day Well?

, based on a short story by Graham Greene and produced at the legendary Ealing Studios in 1942. (Novelist Jack Higgins used a remarkably similar setup for his 1975 thriller

The Eagle Has Landed

, also made into a film.)

Went the Day Well?

bears the obvious hallmarks of its origins as wartime quasi-propaganda—the actual Brits are all pleasant and plucky, the Germans dastardly all the way through—but director Alberto Cavalcanti turns in a tale of a small community pulling together to fight a well-armed foe in its midst that works whatever its ultimate message. (LG)

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