Gabriel Over the White House (1933)

Writers Without Money


The four months between the election of Franklin Roosevelt on November 8, 1932 and the beginning of his first term on March 4, 1933 were the absolute nadir of the Great Depression, perhaps the worst four months in the history of the United States. Twelve million people, a quarter of the work force, were unemployed. Two million people were homeless. Farm prices were down by sixty percent. Industrial production had fallen by more than half since 1929. The American economy had ground to a halt.

It was also the Golden Age of American cinema, or to be more accurate, radical American cinema, an era that ranks right up there with the Soviet cinema of the 1920s and the French cinema of the 1950s and 1960s. Before the well-known but little understood “Hay’s Code” that took effect in 1934, you could walk into a movie theater and see films ranging from…

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