Movies during the Great Depression

Part II: American Dreams, the Great Depression, and World War II

For the second part of this assignment, you are asked to pick three films and to situate them within our broader discussion of the American Dream, the cinematic history of American Dreaming during the Great Depression and up until the early stages of World War II, and the political (social, cultural) project of which the film is a part. How do these films interrelate, either by comparison, contrast, repetition, or similarity? (Obviously, you can focus on one theme/red thread, like the notion of home or the figure of the gangster, to help focus your analysis.) In other words: If we consider your films as an ensemble or a triptych, how might we constellate them in productive ways?

In your response, please consider specific examples which means paying attention to cinematic strategies and formal qualities that grant these films their shape rather than plot descriptions, including screenshots, if and whenever possible (if that’s not possible, it’s OK!). And, as always, please draw on relevant course materials as you craft your answer, placing disparate ideas in dialogue, tension, and synthesis with each other as you see fit (e.g. if you are establishing parallels between Rick and the figure of the gangster as an American Dreamer, factor in relevant passages from the Warshow/Ruth articles, and so on for every film).

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