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By: Social Engineer, Sun Aug 12th, 2012
Great Depression is still remembered and recent economic events catapulted the 30s history to the close attention of the financial community and ordinary people. "The Great Depression" is a four chapter documentary of the Great Depression during the 1930's. Each is interesting and can be watched separately as it will take over 3 hours to watch all four. They are 1) The New Deal, 2)Mass Media, 3) Marathon Dancing, and 4)Hard Times and American Hobo. The History Channel does an excellent job and Mario Cuomo narrates and introduces each piece - without political coloring. It is interesting how his family survived during the Depression as well as thrived when the economy recovered. In the first years of the Great Depression, banks and businesses failed in record numbers as America struggled to come to grips with the disaster. Examine the changes that swept the shaken nation, from the landslide victory of FDR in 1932, to the California migrations of Dust Bowl farmers, in 'The Great Shake-Up.' Faced with hard times, Americans sought release wherever they could find it, from marathon dancing to going to the movies. 'Face the Music' uses extensive film clips and photos to show how the media came of age to become an integral part of daily life. This is a great historical time and shows the foundations of many of today's organizations, media and government programs. As the Depression lingered and the New Deal failed to live up to people's expectations, some Americans fought back against a system they felt had betrayed them. In 'Striking Back,' rare footage and revealing interviews relive the desperate acts of people who had been pushed too far by the crisis. Finally, 'Desperate Measures' shows how the approach of World War II did what all the protests and recovery programs failed to do - end the Great Depression. Tidbits learned in the first segment include information about the popularity (and depravity) of dance marathons early in the Depression (45 minutes on, 15 minutes off, with 7 meals a day; they sometimes continued for months), that the Depression prodded many to 'go West' - either in their own autos or through riding the rails (Robert Mitchum James Michener, and Melvin Belli were hobos), and the fact that the Dust Bowl coincided with an worsened the Great Depression. Deflation was intense and it wrecked the economy. The second segment tells us that movies were a great escape from reality and often had air-conditioning; actors worked very long hours, and movie sales took a two-year dive in 1931. Day labor earned about 50 cents/day. Radio use grew during the Great Depression and FDR made the most of this via his 'Fireside Chats.' It is rare to get a chance to see clips like these uninterrupted by narration. You truly get a sense for the era and people. This dvd is like a time machine that will hurl you back to that amazing era. Apparantly many of the clips included in the set have never been released in any form as they were newsreel out-takes that were not even seen back in the day. I also learned a little about where "Depression Glass" came from and how it was connected to the movies - eating/drinking items made of glass used to be entirely hand-made and very expensive. However, shortly after the Great Depression began they began making these items with automated machinery, drastically lowering the costs to the point where movie theatres often gave pieces out as enticements.