To what extent do Warner Brother's musicals of the 1930s embody the Great Depression and represent President Roosevelt's "New Deal" ethos?

Gordon, Hannah (2011) To what extent do Warner Brother's musicals of the 1930s embody the Great Depression and represent President Roosevelt's "New Deal" ethos? BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    The Great Depression of the 1930s brought with it a period of hardship and social change to America, beginning with the election of Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, over Republican Herbert Hoover. This study focuses on the Warner Bros musicals of the period and how they encapsulate the ideology of the "New Deal". The political history is grounded in the introduction, and the history of the musical genre and its popularity is explored in the first chapter, and the final two chapters take the form of case studies. Two exemplary musicals, 42nd Street (Bacon, 1933) and Gold Diggers of 1933 (LeRoy, 1933) are analysed through narrative, costume, dance and lyrics to explore the gender and economic politics at work.

    These similar films were revealed as social realist in comparison to earlier musicals of the time, portraying themes of a political nature, positivity towards social cohesion, and anxieties about women's role in society. The producers of 42nd Street utilised the political campaign of Roosevelt to launch their film, and Gold Diggers explicitly explored the knock-on effects of the Depression. These films are considered from a theoretical feminist perspective, in particular, the argument that women in films are eroticised and objectified for the pleasure of the male. However the films did provide some progressive images of women and female independence. It was concluded that 42nd Street and Gold Diggers provided typical escapist entertainment for downbeat audiences, through comedy and extravagance. The "New Deal" ethos and political issues were referenced, but at the heart of these films were the circumstances of the Depression, which enabled Warner Bros to promote Roosevelt and his ideals, and tried to rally audiences together.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2012 11:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:58
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/7034

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