UC Berkeley Library

Documentaries on the 1930's

The Crash of 1929

In 1929, there were few critics of a stock market seeming to rise without limits. In fact, presidents and economists alike confidently predicted that America would soon enter a "new Era" when everyone would be rich. Instead, the rich got richer, and ultimately the promise of a permanent economic boom disappeared almost overnight, when the consequences of a decade of market speculation and manipulation came to bear. Includes interviews with participants, historians, and economists, and film clips of the stock market experience. 2010. 60 min.

The Democrat and the Dictator. ( A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers)

Journalist Bill Moyers compares and contrasts the careers of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler, focusing on the youth, personality, leadership style, and political goals of each. 1984. 3/4' UMATIC (stored at NRLF #: B 4 175 501)

The Depression Years; The Silent Witness. (Hollywood Chronicles)

The Depression years: Centers on the role of film during the Depression years and the development of musicals, gangster films, travelogues and theatrical advertisements. The silent witness: Presents the newsreels and their role in bringing news to the public, particularly during the war years. Beyond the hard news, they also brought sports and entertainment news to the public. 1990. 50 min.

The Eleanor Roosevelt Story

An intimate portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt, describing her life from a childhood of loneliness and rejection to becoming the most admired and respected woman in the world. She married Franklin D. Roosevelt, who eventually was elected president, but she was not content to be the proper, silent wife behind her husband's career. Instead, she began a lifelong crusade to speak out about injustice and oppression in any form. Directed by Richard Kaplan. 1965. 90 min.

The Federal Theater, File 891, and the Mercury Theater.

This film appraises the impact of the drama groups that flourished during the Depression and their lasting contributions to theater. Among the topics discussed are the American method stye of acting, as pioneered at the Group Theatre; the Federal Theater, the Classical Theatre (Project 891), and the Mercury Theater, incubators for some of the most innovative and controversial works ever seen on the American stage; and the theatrical careers of Orson Welles and John Houseman. c1999. 30 min.
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The Helping Hand. ( A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers)

Looks at how the New Deal helped to create jobs during the Depression. Interviews former Civilian Conservation Corps workder who benefited from these programs. 1984. 58 min.

The Land (1941)

Originally released as motion picture in 1941 by the U.S. Agricultural Adjustment Agency. Credits: Director, Robert J. Flaherty; collaborator, Frances H. Flaherty; commentary, Russell Lord; composer, Richard Arnell; editor, Helen van Dongen. Portrays American agriculture during the depression decade. Explores the problems of agricultural unemployment, erosion of farm land, the desolate lives of migrant workers, and the role of the machine in farming. 44 min. Information about this film from the Internet Movie Database

The Last of the Blue Devils

A documentary recollection of music and musicians associated with Kansas City, Mo. in the 1930's, featuring Count Basie and his orchestra, Joe Turner, and Jay McShann.

The Panic is On: The Great American Depression as Seen by the Common man.

This multifaceted set communicates both the painful hard times of the Great Depression and the grace and strong will of the common man in confronting it. Period newsreel and documentary film footage convey the feel of the times. Classic musical recordings reflect the popular mood of the day. The booklet includes photographs, letters, and first hand recollections. Contents: DVD: Give a man a job (with Jimmy Durante) -- Life in the thirties -- Mr.