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FDR's New Deal Movies & TV

King Kong (1933)

With its impressive special effects (particularly the stop-motion animation), its grand settings, and its elaborate musical score, the original King Kong is still considered one of the most ambitious Hollywood productions in film history—a remarkable achievement since it was completed during the height of the Great Depression.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

At the time of its release, The Grapes of Wrath was considered controversial and even dangerous by those suspicious of its leftist tone. Today, however, this film based on John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is heralded as a historically significant movie masterpiece about life during the Great Depression. It’s a must see!

Paper Moon (1973)

Starring Ryan O’Neal and his real-life daughter, child actor Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon is a sometimes dark comedy about a scam artist who partners with an orphaned girl to travel throughout the Midwest in search of easy money during the Great Depression. It’s not your typical road trip film, but certainly a memorable one.

Cradle Will Rock (1999)

This film, directed, produced, and written by Tim Robbins, illustrates the events surrounding the original stage production of The Cradle Will Rock, a musical sponsored by the New Deal’s Federal Theatre Project and then banned for its leftist script.

King Kong (2005)

With modern filmmaking technology, director Peter Jackson succeeded in creating a version of Kong that far surpasses the original in its visual effects and spectacular island settings. Jackson’s film also makes far more direct references to the Great Depression than its predecessor. However, unlike the original cast, those involved in the modern Kong had little to no recollection of the hard realities of the 1930s. The film is just over three hours in length, not counting the DVD extras, so be sure to microwave an extra bag of popcorn!

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