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

Christian Indie Films of 2014
This year has already seen a remarkable and perhaps unprecedented number of Christian and Biblically-based films, from big-budget epics like "Noah" and "Son of God" to small faith-oriented films like "God's Not Dead."  There is an excellent summary of four Christian independent films of 2014 on In

posted 3:59:03pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Frank: The Real Story of the Singer With the Paper-Mache Mask
One of the handsomest men alive spends almost the entire movie wearing a huge round paper maché head in "Frank," a moving film inspired by the real-life story of the late Frank Sidebottom.  Michael Fassbender plays Frank, a sweet-natured but very quirky musician who wears his big head mask even in

posted 9:10:16am Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

What's Up With My Family? -- App Helps Middle Schoolers Navigate Life
Middle School Confidential™ 3: What’s Up with My Family? is a new IOS app, the next installment of the series for tweens and teens. The third edition continues the story of Jack, Jen, Chris, Abby, Mateo, and Michelle—a tight-knit group of friends in middle school—who are realizing that growi

posted 3:59:49pm Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »

The Simpsons Binge Watch: Every Episode Plus the Movie
Get your food delivery menus ready.  Unplug your phone.  All 552 Simpsons episodes will be broadcast in order, starting tomorrow. They include scenes cut in syndication that have not been on television since the original broadcast. And of course they include some remarkably prescient moments tha

posted 3:59:35pm Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Bo Svenson
Bo Svenson is an actor, writer, director, judo champion, and, as I was lucky enough to find out, an enthralling guy to talk to, turning an interview into a wide-ranging conversation. Svenson was

posted 3:59:35pm Aug. 19, 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.