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Although styles tended to reflect the glamour of contemporary movies, clothes themselves were mended before being replaced, and the invention of synthetic fibres led to the use of washable, practical, easy-care fabrics. Many who could not afford books or periodicals spent time reading in libraries. Inexpensive amusements included backyard games, puzzles, card games, and board games such as Monopoly , which was introduced in Even the national pastime, baseball , changed profoundly during the Great Depression.

And with the end of Prohibition in , nightclubs became legitimate places not only to consume liquor but to socialize, dance, enjoy the entertainment, and be seen wearing the latest fashions.

Great Depression History - HISTORY

Because radio and film reached many more people than novels or plays, some intellectuals believed that the mass media might be the most effective weapon for radicalizing Americans. Yet, predictably, the radio networks and the Hollywood studios, as commercial enterprises, were more interested in entertaining than in indoctrinating the masses. Although Hollywood was filled with people sympathetic to the political left—people who frequently contributed money to the labour movement or the Spanish Republicans or who were indispensable in organizing the Screen Actors, Writers, and Directors guilds—little of this political activism left an imprint on the screen.

In fact, it is striking how few American movies during the s dealt with the plight of the poor and the unemployed. The most memorable films of the decade particularly those made at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer , Paramount , and Twentieth Century-Fox were musicals , screwball comedies, and romances. Only Warner Brothers specialized in movies, usually gangster sagas, about the violence and poverty of slum life, a life the embattled hoodlum protagonists always yearned to escape.

The fast-talking guys and dames of s movies—like the contemporaneous music and lyrics of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin , Cole Porter , Irving Berlin , and Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart —were the product of a culture both urban and urbane; the movies and the music depended on clever allusions and witty dialogue , written or composed mostly by sophisticated Manhattanites. Nor was it possible to envision the gangsters, as played by Edward G.

As she begins healing Brother Justin the surrounding corn ears blacken and wither progressively row after row. Each episode plays, just like in a puzzle, a pivotal part in the overall structure as each detail contributes to the depiction of the whole picture, suggesting a more dynamic role of the viewer. I shall therefore delve into the way in which the storyline is embedded into history and examine how both are intricately interwoven.


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The historical setting 34 depicting America amid the throes of the Depression contributes to the portrayal of a period of despair, war fears and political tensions. Furthermore, setting the plot in the past clearly gives an impression of remoteness 35 while contributing to its epic dimension. The recurrent visions of the trenches in which Henry Scudder crosses paths with the Russian infantryman Lucius Belyakov, an opposing Avatar, may well be viewed as an omen of the Second World War, which will reach its climax with the use of the atomic weapon.

As Ben Hawkins is about to bury his mother, who has just died of dust pneumonia, a bulldozer moves into the frame. This type of situation was, at the time, an everyday occurrence. Numerous stories recount similar dramatic cases. One morning a giant tractor came in, like we had never seen before. My daddy used to do all his work with horses. So this huge tractor came in and began to knock down this corral, this small corral where my father kept his horses. In the matter of a week, the whole face of the land was changed […].

We all of us climbed into an old Chevy that my dad had. And then we were in California, and migratory workers The ubiquity of poverty at the time is made clear from the very first episode of the series as we see Ben walking along the railroad tracks where the poor migrants have set up their encampment recalling the photos taken, at the time, by Dorothea Lange 40 who chronicled the lives of the migrants and displaced people during the Dust Bowl.

Not to mention the duo: Lodz, the blind mentalist, and Ben Hawkins who find refuge from the storm in an abandoned house. Yet the Dust Bowl may also be read as something supernatural and viewed, from a religious viewpoint, as a punishment from God, which is exactly how Brother Justin views it in Milfay :. Latter days version of the vile plagues that rained on Egypt, the fires that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah, scourges of the Old Testament, yes, but even now brothers and sisters, even now, droughts and pestilence fester in the very heart of this great land […] Titanic sandstorms, the likes of which man has not seen since the days of the prophets.

And I ask myself, what are these things? What are they if not harbingers of the Apocalypse? Thus, while these historical events anchor the fictional narrative into historical reality, by distorting them so they fit the narrative pattern, the producer blurs once more the boundaries between fiction and reality. Yet, while fictionalizing history the show creates its own fictional reality. As Robert J. It is, however, worth noticing here again the anachronistic feature of this scene.

The Shadow was a famous radio show all throughout the Thirties. However, the episode used in this short segment is entitled The Silent Avenger 45 , and was broadcasted on March 13, This throws light once more on the way in which the authors manipulate and distort historical facts to suit the narrative pattern. The radio creates a mise en abyme effect in the narrative structure, as the fictional character of Brother Justin becomes the hero of a fictitious show within the diegesis.

The Dust Bowl: An Unforgettable Farming Catastrophe

Where is he? Where are you, Brother Justin? Meanwhile, the viewer sees through the open garage doorframe Brother Justin walking by in the distance and disappearing into the night, signalling to the viewer the beginning of his dark and solitary errand into the wilderness. Franklin D. Yet Roosevelt was not the only talented radio orator who understood the power of the new medium. Stolen by the international bankers. Stolen by the crooked politicians.

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Both Roosevelt 54 and Coughlin had outstanding voices, which proved a significant asset for an aural medium like the radio. A beautiful baritone… his range was spectacular. He always began in a low rich pitch, speaking slowly, gradually increasing in tempo and vehemence, then soaring into high and passionate tones… His diction was musical, the effect authoritative.

Roosevelt and Father Coughlin — emphasizing once more the interplay between fiction and reality. All day at work, at home, just sleepwalkers. The circus motif symbolises illusion.


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  • While illusion is conjured up for the circus spectator, this illusion rests on the following paradox: to be effective it must be denied yet considered real in itself. As Janet M. The eerie and murky atmosphere of the series focuses on the dark side of the human experience.

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