The Great Depression (1998) DVD9
It was a time of dashed dreams and lost fortunes. But it also proved America's resilience hardship was met by hope, and tragedy answered with daring plans. From the stock market crash of 1929 to the recovery spurred by the coming of WWII, The Great Depression is an illuminating look at a difficult age. See how Americans united in the face of despair escaping their troubles with dance marathons, helping each other out on the hard road from the Dust Bowl to California's promised land, and rallying behind the revolutionary policies of FDR's New Deal. Remarkable photos and footage capture the culture of hobos, mass media and radical politics that arose practically overnight, and friends, family and scholars examine the era's most influential figures, from Huey Long to "Pretty Boy" Floyd. Join host Mario Cuomo for the definitive portrait of The Great Depression.

DVD9 | NTSC 4:3 | 03:05:47 | 7.25 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: none
Genre: Documentary, History

Producers: Bill Cosby, Charlie Maday
Cast: Mario Cuomo, Erik Barnouw, Calvin Coolidge, Pretty Boy Floyd, Herbert Hoover, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Orson Welles, Howard Zinn
Country: USA

The first episode, "The Great Shake-up", lays out the beginning of the Depression, covering the inaction of Hoover, the stock market crash, and the rise of FDR, along with such tangential side stories as the popularity of marathon dancing and the particulars of hobo culture. Upton Sinclair's run for the governor of California is covered in great detail, as is the launch of the New Deal via the CCC and the WPA.

The second episode, "Face the Music", focuses on culture and media in the Depression--movies, radio, photography, and journalism. Stars of the era, such as Kitty Carlisle and Gloria Stuart, are interviewed as we revisit the golden age of the studio system, Mae West and the implementation of the production code, and the double-features at movie palaces, which offered American citizens an air-conditioned escape for pennies. The phenomenon of radio is examined in detail, as are the photographs of Dorothea Lange, which "put a human face on grim statistics." Also of interest is the beginning of radio journalism (with events like the Hindenburg disaster and the fall of Austria), and how its conventions were exploited by Orson Welles and his famous "War of the Worlds" broadcast.

Episode three, "Striking Back", deals with America's internal conflicts--crime, race, and labor. Pretty Boy Floyd's Robin Hood-esque fame is explored, and the series also explains how he indirectly led to the greater empowerment of the FBI. We're also told the fascinating story behind the 1935 Harlem riots (in which over 200 businesses were smashed and looted in response to a murder that didn't happen). The second half of the special details the labor revolution, beginning with the unionization of the textile mills that led to the largest strike in history (and left seven strikers dead in Honea Path, South Carolina) and concluding with the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937, in which ten textile workers were shot to death (mostly in the back, as seen in shocking newsreel footage).

"Desperate Measures", the final episode, spends a great deal of its running time on Walter Waters and the "Bonus March" of 1932, which led to Hoover's badly blundered "Battle of Washington." The show also details the rise (and death) of controversial Louisiana politician Huey Long, as well as many Americans' flirtation with communism in the run-up to World War II.

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