Having Fun – Movies
Movies provided an escape from the hardships of the Great Depression, allowing a glimpse into high society life, so far from rural life. People were fascinated by the movies themselves and by the glamorous lives of the men and women who starred in the films. For example, the movie “My Man Godfrey” told the story of a man who lost his entire fortune in the 1929 stock market crash. To make a living, he became a butler for a rich family, and he ended up saving the family.
Merchants in small towns decided to show free movies to draw country folks in to town on Thursday evenings. They projected the film on the wall of a downtown building. Helen Bolton remembers going to town for the free outdoor movies. “They had this big screen outside, and they had benches that people could sit on. You know, it’d really draw a crowd. I think they had band music, too, in the middle of the street. It was pretty nice, we went to town, you got to see all your friends … and it was a happy time.”
Some of the film stars and producers of the time had strong Nebraska connections. Producer Daryl F. Zanuck, was from Wahoo, and stars like Henry Fonda and Fred Astaire grew up in Nebraska.
Movies with sound were new, although the sound didn’t always work.
Walter Schmitt remembers the treat of going to the movies in Gresham, Nebraska, and how sometimes the sound didn’t match the action on the screen – with unintended comical results
While thousands of people struggled to find a paying job, Hollywood entered a golden age. People flocked to watch movie stars Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, little Shirley Temple, and elegant dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Comedians W.C. Fields, Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, and others made people laugh and forget their troubles. In 1937, Walt Disney’s “Snow White” became America’s first full-length animated movie. “Gone with the Wind” premiered in Atlanta in 1939.
Written by Claudia Reinhardt and Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. First written and published in 2003.