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Hollywood and the Depression


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During their discussion of Top Hat for this week's essentials, Molly and Robert agreed that Hollywood did not feel the depression. I just wanted to point out that actually Hollywood did feel the depression, even if not as much as the rest of the country. The Screen Guilds formed in the thirties, partially due to the need to protect workers from Depression circumstances. To cut costs, studios would lay off thousands of workers whenever they could. The major studios, like Paramount, went through a series of studio heads trying to find someone who could turn a profit. Bankrupcies, union strikes, apple carts-- you name it in the depression, you could find it in Hollywood.

 

I remember reading in Ginger Rogers' biography that she had trouble getting material for her tennis courts, thanks to a troubled nation. So see? Hollywood felt the Depression.

 

And just for the record, listening to Robert talk before the films is one of my favorite parts of watching TCM. I think he is wonderful. The same goes for Ben.

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110 million people went to the pictures each week in America before the Crash hit, then numbers dwindled to around 50 million between 1932 and 1933. Warners, for instance, lost $14 million in 1932, hence, the huge lay-offs. Yet over at MGM, things were okay. 1934 found them 7.5 million on the plus-side. No wonder King Vidor had to personally back his production of Our Daily Bread because his home base (and every other major studio) didn't want a thing to do with it. Go figure.

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