to think of better times, and people were willing to pay twenty-five cents for a chance to escape, at least fora few hours.Even more than escapism, other films at the close of the decade reflected on the sense of community andfamily values that Americans struggled to maintain throughout the entire Depression. John Ford²s screenversion of Steinbeck²sThe Grapes of Wrathcame out in 1940, portraying the haunting story of the Joadfamily²s exodus from their Oklahoma farm to California in search of a better life. Their journey leads themto realize that they need to join a larger social movement³communism³dedicated to bettering the livesof all people. Tom Joad says, °Well, maybe it’s like Casy says, a fella ain²t got a soul of his own, but on²ya piece of a soul³the one big soul that belongs to ever²body.± The greater lesson learned was one of thestrength of community in the face of individual adversity.Another trope was that of the hard-working everyman against greedy banks and corporations. This wasperhaps best portrayed in the movies of Frank Capra, whoseMr. Smith Goes to Washingtonwas emblematicof his work. In this 1939 film, Jimmy Stewart plays a legislator sent to Washington to finish out the termof a deceased senator. While there, he fights corruption to ensure the construction of a boy²s camp in hishometown rather than a dam project that would only serve to line the pockets of a few. He ultimatelyengages in a two-day filibuster, standing up to the power players to do what²s right. The Depression erawas a favorite of Capra²s to depict in his films, includingIt°s a Wonderful Life, released in 1946. In this film,Jimmy Stewart runs a family-owned savings and loan, which at one point faces a bank run similar to thoseseen in 1929—1930. In the end, community support helps Stewart retain his business and home against theunscrupulous actions of a wealthy banker who sought to bring ruin to his family.754Chapter 25 Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? The Great Depression, 1929-1932This content is available for free at https://FQ[±RUJ/content/col11740/1.3
AMERICANA°Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?±They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mobWhen there was earth to plow or guns to bear, I was always there, right on the jobThey used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory aheadWhy should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against timeOnce I built a railroad, now it°s done, Brother, can you spare a dime?Once I built a tower up to the sun, brick and rivet and limeOnce I built a tower, now it°s done, Brother, can you spare a dime?³Jay Gorney and ±Yip² Harburg±Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?² first appeared in 1932, written for the Broadway musicalNewAmericanaby Jay Gorney, a composer who based the song°s music on a Russian lullaby, and EdgarYipsel ±Yip² Harburg, a lyricist who would go on to win an Academy Award for the song ±Over theRainbow² fromThe Wizard of Oz(1939).
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