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Filmography - American History, The Great Depression: M - Z

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of August 2013

American History, The Great Depression

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of August 2013

Most streaming videos listed are available exclusively to AU students, staff and faculty after an online authentications by AUID#.

This is a selective list of video holdings in the American University Library. Filmographies are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the ALADIN catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible.  All DVDs listed below are located in Media Services on the Lower Level of Bender Library. To search the library’s complete videos holdings on prison topics (including VHS tapes) search the library catalog at:

A Memory of Two Mondays. 2012.  1 streaming video file (90 min.). Dramatizing a compacted group of memories passing over several years, Arthur Miller's vivid comedy drama portrays the nature of life during America's Great Depression. The emphasis is on mood and characterization as Miller draws on his own personal experience to evoke what the 1930s were like for workers to whom a job - any job - was everything. Streaming video.

Modern Dreams. 2013.  Art of America: Art of America.  1 streaming video file (50 min.). In this program, Andrew Graham-Dixon shows the role of 19th- and 20th-century artists in helping America to establish its own culture. He goes to Manhattan to examine the grimy world of John Sloan and George Bellows, to Massachusetts for a fresh take on Norman Rockwell, and to Chicago for a look at the work of Louis Sullivan. Graham-Dixon explains how the Great Depression affected Edward Hopper and Arshile Gorky and inspired America's first internationally acclaimed art movement - Abstract Expressionism. He visits Jackson Pollock's Long Island studio before flying across America to take in Mark Rothko's incredible chapel in Houston, Texas.  Streaming video.

Modern Marvels Empire State Building. 2010.  1 streaming video file (45 min.). At a time when American dreams were in short supply, an iconic engineering marvel rose up through the New York City skyline and inspired a nation. This documentary brings you the remarkable story behind the world-renowned Empire State Building.  Planned during the 1920's, construction on what would become the world's tallest man-made structure was almost grounded by the Great Depression. In spite of the country's economic troubles, intrepid construction workers prevailed, carefully assembling the building's magnificent steel frame at an astonishing pace of four-and-a-half stories per week. In just over a year the miraculous structure was finished, and a monumental symbol of the indomitable American spirit was forever etched into the New York City landscape. Streaming video.

Modern Marvels Hoover Dam. 2007.  1 streaming video file (45 min.). The task was monumental: build the world's largest dam in the middle of the desert, tame the river that carved the Grand Canyon--and do it all within seven years. The ambitious government-sponsored project promised to change a barren southwestern desert into a bountiful agricultural community through flood control, irrigation, and the procurement of electricity and drinking water. This program presents the dramatic history behind the building of the Hoover Dam. Through archival footage and digital animation, viewers discover the immensity of the task and learn the innovative construction techniques that were required to finish the job on time. Historical background on the Great Depression is also included. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. (50 minutes).  Streaming video.

The National Parks America's Best Idea, A Film by Ken Burns. 2011.  The National Parks: America's Best Idea -- A Film by Ken Burns: National parks, America's best idea.  1 streaming video file (116 min.). In this episode, Franklin D. Roosevelt, to battle unemployment in the Great Depression, created the Civilian Conservation Corps, which spawned a "golden age" for the parks through major renovation projects. In a groundbreaking study, a young NPS biologist named George Melendez Wright discovered widespread abuses of animal habitats and pushed the service to reform its wildlife policies. Congress narrowly passed a bill to protect the Everglades in Florida as a national park - the first time a park had been created solely to preserve an ecosystem. As America became embroiled in World War II, Roosevelt was pressured to open the parks to mining, grazing, and lumbering.  Streaming video.

Of mice and men. 2003.  1 videodisc (110 min.). In Depression-era California, two migrant workers dream of better days on a spread of their own until an act of unintentional violence leads to tragic consequences.  DVD 5780

Oh Freedom After While. 2012.  1 streaming video file (56 min.). One morning in 1939 residents of southeastern Missouri awoke to a startling sight. More than 1,000 African-American sharecroppers had camped out alongside two state highways, taking a stand against the corrupt planters and marginalizing government decrees that made it impossible for them to ever escape economic disparity. Narrated by Julian Bond, this film tells the story of their labor strike, mixing commentary from former sharecroppers and scholars with striking archival footage. Despite the odds, the 1939 Sharecroppers' Strike attracted national attention and changed government policies that had previously condemned rural blacks to an endless cycle of poverty.  Streaming video.

Organizing America history of trade unions. 2005.  1 streaming video file (39 min.). Using interviews, personal accounts, and archival footage, this program investigates the major events in the history of American trade unions, from the formation of the first "friendly societies" in the 18th century, to the challenges posed by new technologies in the 1980s and 90s. Important issues such as minimum wages, health and safety conditions, discrimination, benefits, job security, and strikes are addressed. Veterans of labor struggles, labor historians, and business and government officials reveal fascinating personal insights into labor's sometimes violent origins, and how its influences have changed the workplace over the past 200 years.  Streaming video.

Our daily bread. 2004.  1 videodisc (73 min.). "Lost souls, haunted by vice, seek a better future on an [sic] gritty 'back to the land' commune in King Vidor's Great Depression epic drama. Idle masons, plumbers and carpenters are put to work creating, while former white-collar professionals are retrained in the art of manual labor. But all utopias have a dark side. Despite the overriding pioneering spirit; lust, proffering and deceit tarnish the ideals of the freethinking farmers while frustration and hopelessness corrode their dreams ... A mid-period film by legendary director King Vidor ... Our Daily Bread is evocative depression-era propaganda made outside the mainstream studio sysem..."--Container.  DVD 478

The panic is on the great American depression as seen by the common man. 2009.  1 videodisc (120 min.). This multifaceted set communicates both the painful hard times of the Great Depression and the grace and strong will of the common man in confronting it. Period newsreel and documentary film footage convey the feel of the times. Classic musical recordings reflect the popular mood of the day. The booklet includes photographs, letters, and first hand recollections.  DVD 6476

Prelinger Archives Work Pays America (Part I) (1937). 37.  1 streaming video file (16 min.). "The Great Depression left millions of able and willing Americans bewildered and jobless. . . The dole was not enough; good sound men and women wanted to earn the help they got." This Prelinger Archives film (part 1 of 2) illustrates how the Work Projects Administration program of public works benefits both unemployed workers and American society. Construction of all types is spotlighted--roads, reservoirs, bridges, sewers, airports--along with slum clearance for parks and playgrounds, traffic-surveying, textile- and garment-making, initiatives involving nurses and teachers, and more. Work Projects Administration. (16 minutes).  Streaming video.

The Presidents 1913-1945. 2005.  1 streaming video file (45 min.). This program focuses on America's emergence as a global power as it introduces Woodrow Wilson, the country's leader during World War I; Warren Harding, who watched as scandals rocked his administration; Calvin Coolidge, who ushered the U.S. to a dangerous economic precipice; Herbert Hoover, who watched the nation fall into the Great Depression; and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who led America out of the Depression and through World War II. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. A part of the series The Presidents. (45 minutes).  Streaming video.

Public enemies. 2009.  1 videodisc (140 min.). 1933. It is the fourth year of the Great Depression. For John Dillinger, Alvin Karpis and Baby Face Nelson, it is the golden age of bank robbery. After serving a ten-year prison sentence, John Dillinger embarks on a cross-country bank-robbing spree with help from his associates: faithful driver Red Hamilton, cocky lookout Homer Van Meter, and murderous hothead Baby Face Nelson. He relocates to Chicago, where he meets hatcheck girl Billie Frechette and falls in love, but struggles to reconcile his new romance with his life on the run. Meanwhile, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover has enlisted Special Agent Melvin Purvis to use the latest techniques and equipment to catch Dillinger-Public Enemy Number One-even as Purvis realizes that doing so may stretch his principles to the breaking point.  DVD 3066

Ralph Bunche the odyssey continues--. 2003.  1 videodisc (40 min.). In this episode, Ralph Bunche pursues post-graduate studies, earning a master's degree in political science from Harvard which, in 1928, launches his extraordinary 13-year teaching career at Howard University. At Howard, Bunche becomes increasingly active in the struggle against racial and economic injustice. This module shows Bunche and his colleagues at Howard engaged in the social, political and economic challenges of the period - the Great Depression, the rise of fascism, the outbreak of WWII and the debate about racism among Black intellectuals that continues to this day. DVD 2642

Riding the rails. 2005.  1 video file (72 min.). "Tells the unforgettable story of the 250,000 teenagers who left their homes and hopped freight trains during the Great Depression"--Container.  Streaming video.

The Roaring twenties. 2006.  America in the 20th Century: America in the 20th century: America in the twentieth century (Hamilton, N.J.).  1 streaming video file (31 min.). Best known for its flappers, gangsters, and jazz, the Roaring Twenties was also an era of social tensions and political change. This program is a time capsule of a boisterous era that began with a surge of hope and ended on the verge of the Great Depression. Topics include the presidencies of Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, the post-World War I "return to normalcy," the economic boom and the affordable Model T, the Red Scare, Garveyism, the Scopes trial, Prohibition, and the unique pop culture of the decade. Correlates to standards from the National Council for the Social Studies.  Streaming video.

Seabiscuit. 2011.  The 1930s: 1930 .  1 streaming video file (60 min.). Seabiscuit's fame as a champion racehorse was unexpected yet it was timely. In the 1930s, when American's longed to escape the grim realities of the Great Depression, Seabiscuit became the working man's hero. Despite his boxy build, stumpy legs, scraggly tail, and ungainly gait, he was one of the most remarkable Thoroughbred racehorses in history. Seabiscuit, from the PBS American Experience collection, illuminates the precarious economic conditions that defined the 1930s while taking a behind the scenes look at Thoroughbred racing. The film profiles the colorful cast of characters, including wealthy owner Charles Howard and his famously silent and stubborn trainer, Tom Smith, as it tells the story of how an overworked horse and broken-down jockey triumphed over tragedy and captured the imagination of the nation.  Streaming video.

Sex, censorship, and the silver screen from the depression to WWII. 2008.  Sex, Censorship, and the Silver Screen: Sex, censorship, and the silver screen.  1 streaming video file (73 min.). In what many see as Hollywood's Golden Age, the offices of William Hays and Joseph Breen worked overtime to combat sexuality and subversion in American movies. This program examines the products of that era-films that danced around the standards of the Production Code and paved the way for increasingly daring storytelling and images. From the modesty of It Happened One Night to the shocking and nearly prohibited use of "damn" in Gone with the Wind to the ambiguous morality of Double Indemnity, the program surveys the achievements of Clark Gable, Hedy Lamarr, Errol Flynn, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, and other screen artists. The forces that led to Hays's dismissal and the weakening of the Code are discussed in depth.  Streaming video.

Stryker's America photographing the great depression. 2007.  1 streaming video file (23 min.). Roy E. Stryker headed the Historical Division of the Farm Security Administration from 1935 to 1943. This program tells the story of how Stryker, a low-level federal bureaucrat with integrity and vision, managed a massive New Deal project to document the Great Depression. These photos-nearly 200,000 by both established and aspiring photographers, including Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, and many others-became the defining statement of the era. Many signature images of poverty and hardship are included. Narrated by Beverly Brannan, curator of photography at the Library of Congress; Alan Fern, retired director of the National Portrait Gallery; and Peter Kuznick, professor of history at American University. Streaming video.

Unchained memories readings from the slave narratives. 2003.  1 videodisc (75 min.). When the Civil War ended in 1865, more than 4 million slaves were set free. By the late 1930's, 100,000 former slaves were still alive. In the midst of the Great Depression, journalists and writers traveled the country to record the memories of the last generation of African-Americans born into bondage. Over 2,000 interviews were transcribed as spoken, in the vernacular of the time, to form a unique historical record.  DVD 316

When the World Breaks Actors and Artists Recall the Great Depression. 2010.  1 streaming video file (58 min.). The world breaks every one, Ernest Hemingway wrote in A Farewell to Arms, "and afterward many are strong at the broken places." This program applies those sentiments to the Great Depression and what it taught many Americans about creativity and survival. A multitude of well-known cultural figures-including Mickey Rooney, Jerry Stiller, Ray Bradbury, Phyllis Diller, and other artists and entertainers-share vivid memories of the period, accompanied by a vibrant tapestry of archival footage. Their stories of poverty, foreclosures, family crises, and social injustice bring to life a formative decade in U.S. history while shedding light on today's challenges. Prominent psychologists, activists, and economists are also featured.  Streaming video.

World War II Breadlines to Boomtimes. 2012.  1 streaming video file (170 min.). A rare look at how a nation of men and women mobilized to convert the U.S. economy into a war machine, emerging as the most powerful country in the world.  Volume 1: Changing the Face of America. Volume 2: A World in Flames. Volume 3: The Problems of Peace. G.I. Joe was home. An incredible industrial war machine had been assembled and had emerged victorious. The face of the world had been forever changed, and the face of America also. But the economy of military success would now have to adapt to peace. Prosperity had a new enemy.  Streaming video.

The WPA Film Library Great Depression, ca. 1930. 2011.  1 streaming video file (1 min.). Depression montage, hardship and some New Deal imagery/references.  Streaming video.

The WPA Film Library The Great Depression in France, 1933. 2011.  1 streaming video file (2 min.). French Depression conditions.  Streaming video.

The WPA Film Library Unemployed Men in Britain, 1933. 2011.  1 streaming video file (2 min.). British "camp" for young unemployed men; the VO touts this as a great way to beat the unemployment blues of Great Depression.  Streaming video.

Year by year 1930. 2011.  Year by Year: 1929-1967.  1 streaming video file (45 min.). Explores the events and trends of 1930, including the Great Depression and Mt. Rushmore. Charles Lindbergh and wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh's record-setting, coast-to-coast flight is also covered.  Streaming video.