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Lecture Library

Golden Age Hollywood and American History
by Critical Commons Manager

A collection of clips from Professor Rick Jewell showing the relationship of Hollywood films to events in American history

This sequence of clips from Hollywood's "Golden Age" (1929-1945) illustrates the complex relationship of feature films to events in American history, including the Great Depression, World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. With this selection of clips, Professor Rick Jewell highlights both expected and unexpected instances of Hollywood films reflecting upon - but also contributing to - historical events and their experience by movie audiences. Jewell is a leading authority on American film history and a Professor in the School of Cinematic Arts at USC.

Stand Up and Cheer ending by Hamilton MacFadden (1934) A Depression-era film prematurely announces the return of economic prosperity
Gold Diggers of 1933 by Mervyn LeRoy (1933) An uncharacteristically sad Hollywood ending focusing on WWI veterans
Our Daily Bread by King Vidor (1934) A depression-era classical Hollywood happy ending
Gabriel Over the White House speech by Gregory La Cava (1933) Possessed by an angel, the U.S. President conflates democracy with dictatorial power
Adventures of Robin Hood by Michael Curtiz (1938) An allegory of American isolationism during WWII
Confessions of a Nazi Spy by Anatole Litvak (1939) Final sequence of Confessions of a Nazi Spy attacking Nazism just prior to the start of WWII
The Sea Hawk by Michael Curtiz (1940) A historical allegory of German world domination set in 16th century Spain
Invisible Agent by Edwin L. Marin (1942) A bizarre extreme of American propaganda during WWII
Tarzan Triumphs by Wilhelm Thiele (1943) Tarzan and the animals defeat the Nazis
Desperate Journey mission preparation by Raoul Walsh (1942) Allied pilots prepare for a mission in WWII
Desperate Journey ending by Raoul Walsh (1942) Allied airmen cleverly outwit the Nazis
Story of GI Joe by William A. Wellman (1945) Late WWII era films became increasingly realistic about hardships of combat
The Best Years of Our Lives homecoming by William Wyler (1946) The pain of homecoming from WWII
The Next Voice You Hear by William A. Wellman (1950) Only God can save us from the new Cold War