UC Berkeley Library

Documentaries on the 1920's

The Flapper Story

Using a lively blend of interviews and archival footage, this documentary takes a look at the flapper, the proclaimed "New woman" ideal of America's roaring twenties. Sory / producer/writer/director, Lauren Lazin. 1985. 29 min. (DVD supplement);

The Jazz Age

Depicts life in America during the 1920's, a prosperous era of excessive pleasure-seeking which has come to be known as the Jazz Age. After World War I to the Great Crash of 1929, America went through a profound and exhilarating change in morals and manners. Much of the footage is drawn from newsreels and period motion pictures and goes beyond the stereotypes of flappers and gangsters to create a portrait of life on Main Street, as well as depicting the frenetic energy of nightclubs, jazz bands and chorus lines.

The Ten Year Lunch: The Wit and Legend of the Algonquin Round Table.

From 1919 to 1929 in New York City's Algonquin Hotel, a group of poets, novelists, playwrites, critics, humorists and editors met each day to exchange opinions, gossip and the most cutting wit of the day. 60 min.

The Twenties.

Documents the decade of social change and exuberance that followed World War I. Describes the conflict between those who accepted the complexity of the twentieth century and tried to cope with it, and those who rejected the new and tried to live according to past values.

The Twenties. (A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers)

Usually seen as an age of speakeasies, flappers and high living, the 1920's also saw millions of workers struggling for better wages. This program explores this decade when old America was vanishing and a new urban nation was being formed. Includes reminiscences of Americans who lived during this period. 58 min.

The Twentieth Century: A Moving Visual History: The 1920s

Brings the 20th century back to life through narration, rare photographs and stunning footage. A decade of contradictions: "The Roaring Twenties," as they are known, see a major polarization of people around the world --people who embrace change, and those who fear it.

The Years of Jazz: 1918-1928 (Our Century series)

This segment documents events from 1918 to 1928. After the war Europe is torn apart but the desire to live and to reject old values seizes hold of the survivors. The roaring twenties become a worldwide phenomenon as the world dances to the rhythm of jazz.

Top Hat & Tales: Harold Ross and the Making of the New Yorker

This documentary shows how Harold Ross, a high school dropout and miner's son from Colorado, started the sophisticated New Yorker magazine in 1925 by masterfully capturing the Jazz Age spirit, Broadway glamour and ultradry wit. Incorporating a rich array of film clips from the 20's and 30's -- speakeasies, jazz bands, rising skyscrapers -- this film reflects a dazzling Manhattan evoking an image of a metropolis that still glitters. Includes interviews with current and former New Yorker staffers. 2001. 47 min. [preservation copy]

Village Radicals, New Americans, Boom, and Crash

This program examines the cultural changes of the early 20th century using theater as a mirror, to reveal the ongoing development of American culture and society's artistic aspirations. Through archival footage and expert interviews this film examines topics such as the impact of immigrants in drama; the blossoming of ethnic theater; the role of the American Laboratory Theatre; the influence of the Greenwich Village Theatre and the Provincetown Players; and the works of Eugene O'Neill. c1999. 30 min.

Witness to History: Days That Shook the World : 1920-1929

Part of a documentary series covering milestones of the 20th century including political turmoil, the horrors of war, medical, scientific and technological advances and social upheaval that made this century. Part three covers key events in the decade of 1920-1929.