Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Economic Crisis and the Movies

posted by Nell Minow

Hundreds of news articles are referring to our current economic crisis as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930′s. Movies were just coming of age in that decade. The first talkie was “The Jazz Singer” in 1927 and the first three-strip Technicolor film was “Becky Sharp” in 1935. So the first big contemporary story told in movies was about the Depression and films as varied as Meet John Doe, Swing Time, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, The Grapes of Wrath, Sullivan’s Travels, Gold Diggers of 1933, Modern Times, and The Poor Little Rich Girl with Shirley Temple, the Depression era’s top box office star, both reflected and influenced their time.

In The Guardian, David Thomson writes about the classic films of the 30′s and his pessimism that the current economic struggles will produce anything as enduring.

In 1930, the talent in American pictures was from literature, the theatre and journalism, with educated backgrounds and a shared sense of the moral identity in being American. Today’s talent consists of absurdly rich young people who have made the hits of the past dozen years. They know very little about life, except what they have to lose. Those people and much of the audience have lost the habit, or even the memory, of hard times.

While we might not see anything like Ginger Rogers singing “We’re in the Money” in pig latin during the recovery from this economic upheaval, history has shown that the toughest times most often produce the greatest art. Furthermore, just as technology transformed the movies of the 1930′s, changes that it possible for people to create and distribute movies outside the studio system are opening up the chance to share stories and ideas to a much broader range of people from a much broader range of backgrounds than was possible 80 years ago. I look forward to seeing what hardship inspires. And in the meantime, we can still enjoy Ginger singing about how she’s in-way the oney-may.



  • Mark

    I think 2 great films that deal with the upbeat films of the depression age along with it’s harsh reality are ‘Purple Rose of Cairo’(1985) and ‘Pennies From Heaven’ (1981). They both have of elements of humor and joy but are ultimately very sad…they show the influence of film during that very tough time…

Previous Posts

The Memory Book -- This Saturday on the Hallmark Channel
A budding, young photographer stumbles upon an old photo album chronicling the ideal romance of a happy couple. Intrigued by their love and unable to find her own “true love,” she sets out to find the couple and figure out if true love really exists.  The film stars Meghan Ory (“Once Upon a T

posted 8:00:57am Jul. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Michael Rossato-Bennett of "Alive Inside"
Michael Rossato-Bennett agreed to spend one day filming Dan Cohen's remarkable music therapy work with people struggling with dementia. He ended up spending three years there and the result is "Alive Inside," an extraordinary documentary about the power of music to reach the human spirit, even when

posted 3:58:01pm Jul. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Movies' Greatest Mirror Scenes
Anne Billson has a great piece in The Telegraph on mirror scenes in movies, from the Marx brothers clowning in "Duck Soup" and the shootout in "The Lady from Shanghai" to Elizabeth Taylor scrawling on the mirror with lipstick in "Butterfield 8." [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKTT-sy0aLg

posted 8:00:51am Jul. 23, 2014 | read full post »

How Do Movies Show Time Passing?
Someone once said that movies are "pieces of time." A few take place in "real time." Alfred Hitchcock's experiment, "Rope," unfolds in just the time it takes us to watch it, all in what appears to be one seamless shot. But others take place over days, weeks, years, even generations. Slavko Vorkap

posted 8:00:40am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Boring TV Makes You Fat
A new study finds that boring television leads to mindless snacking and that leads to putting on pounds. So, watch programs that excite and engage you. Or, if the show is boring, turn off the television.

posted 8:00:05am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.