Life in the Thirties

Overview

Life In The Thirties was part of an Emmy Award-winning documentary series produced by NBC in the middle/late-1950's. It is also -- one can hope -- the first in a series of DVD releases from Shanachie Entertainment of that NBC News documentary series "Project Twenty," covering these classic programs, from a period in which network news departments usually got things right, if not always complete. Shanachie has done a decent job with this program, the transfer looking at least as good as -- and probably better than...
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Overview

Life In The Thirties was part of an Emmy Award-winning documentary series produced by NBC in the middle/late-1950's. It is also -- one can hope -- the first in a series of DVD releases from Shanachie Entertainment of that NBC News documentary series "Project Twenty," covering these classic programs, from a period in which network news departments usually got things right, if not always complete. Shanachie has done a decent job with this program, the transfer looking at least as good as -- and probably better than -- the program looked on its original broadcast, with good sound at a healthy volume. The 11 chapters are more than adequate to break down the sections of the program, which claims a running time of 60 minutes but is actually just under 53. The whole piece is informative and entertaining, if a little simplistic, with very brisk editing -- the result is a dazzling mosaic of heartbreak and wit, humor and tragedy. Clips of Robert Benchley (one of his best, explaining the cause of the Great Depression), Will Rogers, Benny Goodman, and other stars of the era abound, but some of the most clever moments can be found in the sound editing -- over Roosevelt's first 100 days in office, in which the government literally worked around-the-clock to address the crisis of the Great Depression, one can hear the strains of Cole Porter's "Night And Day"; the repeal of Prohibition is accompanied by "Anything Goes"; and shots of hurricanes and the storms of the dust bowl are accompanied by a mournful harmonica rendition of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." Apart from the economic upheaval and Franklin Roosevelt's successes, nothing occupies the screen for too long, except the Lindbergh kidnapping/murder trial, which gets a full five minutes -- that segues into a section on radio, the new entertainment medium, spotlighting everyone from Jack Benny and Fred Allen to Arturo Toscanini. Hitler gets some screen time along with his domestic adherents, though his invasions of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland are overlooked in favor of coverage of the 1939 New York World's Fair, for a finale. Of course, today, Ken Burns would do 15 hours on the decade, and delineate all of these and other elements in a more careful fashion -- there are no non-white American faces shown anywhere -- but this is one of the better "Cliff Notes" versions of the history.
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/22/2003
  • UPC: 016351091895
  • Original Release: 1956
  • Rating:

  • Source: Shanachie
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Sound: Dolby Digital
  • Language: English
  • Time: 60:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 51,028

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alexander Scourby Voice Only
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Play Program [5:08]
2. Humorist Robert Benchley Explains the Depression [2:03]
3. A Nation Turns Against Hoover [3:52]
4. The New Deal Takes Shape [4:10]
5. Prohibition Bites the Dust [6:19]
6. Voice of the Demagogue [6:19]
7. The Crime of the Century [3:40]
8. Hindenburg Disaster [3:58]
9. Fascists on Parade [5:09]
10. Swing and Cafe Society [9:59]
11. New York World's Fair [2:20]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Access
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