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Films of the Depression and the War Years

The Birth of a Nation (1915, D. W. Griffith, 187 min.)[1]
The Jazz Singer (1927, Alan Crosland, 89 min.)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930, Lewis Milestone, 130 min.)[2]
Frankenstein (1931, James Whale, 71 min.)
I Am a Fugitive from the Chain Gang (1932, Mervyn LeRoy, 93 min.)
King Kong (1933, Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, 105 min.)
It Happened One Night (1934, Frank Capra, 105 min.)
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale, 75 min.)
Modern Times (1936, Charles Chaplin, 87 min.)
Theodora Goes Wild (1936, Richard Boleslawski, 94 min.)
The Awful Truth (1937, Leo McCarey, 93 min.)
Lost Horizon (1937, Frank Capra, 134 min.)
Bringing Up Baby (1938, Howard Hawks, 102 min.)
Gone with the Wind (1939, Victor Fleming, 222 min.)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939, Frank Capra, 129 min.)
Stagecoach (1939, John Ford, 99 min.)
The Wizard of Oz (1939, Victor Fleming, 101 min.)
All This and Heaven Too (1940, Anatole Litvak, 141 min.)
Christmas in July (1940, Preston Sturges, 67 min.)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940, John Ford, 129 min.)
The Great Dictator (1940, Charles Chaplin, 126 min.)
His Girl Friday (1940, Howard Hawks, 92 min.)
My Favorite Wife (1940, Garson Kanin, 88 min.)
The Philadelphia Story (1940, George Cukor, 112 min.)
Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles, 119 min.)
How Green Was My Valley (1941, John Ford, 118 min.)
The Lady Eve (1941, Preston Sturges, 94 min.)*
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941, Alfred Hitchcock, 95 min.)
Sullivan’s Travels (1941, Preston Sturges, 90 min.)
Casablanca (1942, Michael Curtiz, 102 min.)
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942, Orson Welles, 88 min. [original cut 148 min.])
Hail the Conquering Hero (1944, Preston Sturges, 101 min.)
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944, Preston Sturges, 99 min.)

[Films marked with asterisks are used for assignments in course. Present students should select other films from the list.]

[1] This controversial film presents historically oriented narrative from the Civil War through the reconstruction era in the southern United States. The aim of the film, on its surface, appears to be justifying the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan. The Clan is seen as sort of a cavalry riding in to save the whites from an uprising. One of the title cards says to the effect that the film is not directed against any particular race now living. Another claims it is a faithful description of what was. One supposed accident: “At the time of this film’s original premiere, it bore a title card that read something like, ‘This is a depiction of the events of the Civil War and of the formation of the Ku Klux Klan from the point of view of the American South.’ This title card has since been lost [and is not in the film]” (, accessed March 2008). Whether this title card would have been sufficient to deflect the racist interpretation of this film is doubtful.

[2] All Quiet on the Western Front is an anti-war film which both won the Academy Award for best picture and was banned from countries going to war for years to come. On the card after opening credits: “This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war …”


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