Americans’ efforts to deal with the cataclysm of the Depression were both a great success and a great failure. While many nations, in the face of the human suffering and social dislocation of the era, turned to brutal dictatorships for deliverance, the people of the United States maintained their liberal, constitutional democracy despite serious and powerful threats. Nevertheless, the nation failed to solve the problem of widespread unemployment, and the accompanying misery and demoralization. Unemployment was alleviated only by the onset of WWII, an effect one economist called “unintended Keynesianism” (we shall try to discover what that means). World War II has been described as “a righteous war,” yet some of the measures called upon for the winning of that war brought with them deep moral perplexities that are still with us today. In this class, we will draw upon movies, along with materials from our course reader, to give us some sense of what it was like to be alive during those years. We will also seek an understanding of those years that was not available to those who lived through them. As we attempt to use the movies of the time as historical documents, we will consider such questions as these: What was the power of movies? In what ways do movies help define the values of their audiences? In what ways were the movies themselves shaped by the values of their audience? Students will write a brief one-paragraph analysis of each movie they see. Those paragraphs will serve as the basis of class discussion. In addition, each student will submit a final ten-page critical summary paper, tying the course together in his or her own way. No additional reading (beyond the course reader) will be required for this paper, only additional thinking. Enrollment is limited to a total of fifteen freshmen and/or sophomores.