Hollywood's Depression Age
In the early depression 1930-33, Hollywood's first Golden Age produced films the challenged traditional values. According to Robert Sklar, " in the first half decade of the Great Depression, Hollywood's moviemakers perpetrated one of the most remarkable challenges to traditional values in the history of mass commercial entertainment." However, with the creation of the Breen Office and the Production Code in 1934, Hollywood shifted from attack to defense, and affirmed traditional values in the Conservative Age of the later Depression 1934-41 that became a second Golden Age.
Gangster films after Little Caesar
- "More than any other genre, gangster films set the character of the first golden age of Depression-era movies" and "Hollywood's gangsters stood at the very center of their society's disorder" in films of social pathos, not success stories
- Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar (1931) and James Cagney in Public Enemy (1931) and Paul Muni in Scarface (1932)
- gangster code of loyalty, materialism, action, revenge
Topical films after Dynamite
- Cecil B. DeMille's 1st talkie in 1929 shocked with adultry, divorce, drunkeness, exposed thighs, suicide.
- Paul Muni as wrongly convicted James Allen hates the regimentation of the factory in I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932, Mervyn Leroy)
War films after All Quiet on the Western Front
- World War I disorder and noise in Hell's Angels (1930, Howard Hughes) and The Dawn Patrol (1930, Howard Hawks)
Marx Brothers after The Coconuts
- After 1929 at Paramount, the Marx Brothers of Zeppo, Harpo, Chico, and Groucho made Animal Crackers (1930) and Monkey Business (1931) and Horse Feathers (1932) and Duck Soup (1933) that was a satire on politics and patriotism
Mae West after Night After Night
- Her 1932 debut was followed by She Done Him Wrong (1933) a "comedy of turnabout" with saloon keeper Lady Lou in a film that "offered sex and violence, the smashing of corruption and a moral ending, a near-perfect combination of titillating humor and uplift, sin and redemption."
Horror films after Frankenstein
- Universal studio specialized in the genre in 1931 with Boris Karloff as Frankenstein and Bela Lugosi as Dracula
- Freaks (1932, Tod Browning) and King Kong (1933, Merian Cooper)
Fallen Woman films after Anna Christie
- Greta Garbo's 1st talkie in 1930: "Gimme a visky, ginger ale on the side, and don' be stingy, ba-bee."
- scantily clad chrous girls in Alibi (1929, Roland West) and Applause (1929, Rouben Mamoulian) and The Blue Angel (1930, Josef von Sternberg)
- prostitutes Marlene Dietrich in Blue Venus (1932) and Jean Harlow in Red Dust (1932)
- hoofers in Gold Diggers of 1933: "We're in the money" dance numbers by Busby Berkley
Quotes from Robert Sklar, Movie-Made America. New York: Random House, 1976
revised 10/23/02 by Schoenherr | Depression links | Filmnotes | Hollywood