1930: So, the Great Depression Was… Wait! Someone Invented Chocolate Chip Cookies?!

Time to kick off decade number three on the site. Obviously, the event that will dominate and inform film and beyond was the Great Depression. Movies become even more prominent as a cheap form of entertainment as people struggle to get by.

There’s a lot of interesting pop culture news (Constantinople becomes Istanbul), but the invention of the chocolate chip cookie has to dominate, right? I mean, is there a better mainstream dessert? (That’s a rhetorical question because the answer is “no.”)

In the film world, the big news for me is the first appearance of Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes label. While the initial offering features a character named Bosko, it’s nice to know Bugs and the Road Runner are coming soon.

In other film news, Little Caesar is released as the first real gangster film. Greta Garbo appears in her first talkie and unknown Marlene Dietrich stars in The Blue Angel. Film dubbing debuts for foreign markets, presaging an age of Kung fu films. And silent screen great Lon Chaney, Sr. died at the age of 47.

So what are we watching? Murnau had a release (City Girl) so… definitely. My dive into The Marx Brothers continues with Animal Crackers. The Blue Angel, Anna Christie and All Quiet on the Western Front will definitely find their way onto the list.

One last note: long time followers of the site may have noticed I am spending a lot more time in each film year. That of course is driven by regret that I rushed through some early years. So I do plan on going back and catching some older films I missed the first time. The focus will still be on the “current” year’s films, but don’t be shocked to see some older titles start showing up.

The 30s were (was?) a decade that grew on me. Initially I was drawn more to the depth and darkness (still combined with a kind of classicism) already emerging in the early 40s and prevalent by the postwar era. On the Waterfront, Vertigo, etc.

But eventually the crisp, sharp economy of 30s cinema began to impress me a lot. Will you be covering many films specifically addressing the Depression (or at least social conditions of the time, even if the films themselves take place earlier)? I have in mind, among others, Wild Boys of the Road, I Was a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, and Our Daily Bread.

Minor quibble: I believe it was “Looney Tunes” rather than “Looney Toons” which is only interesting because it demonstrates to what extent it was, initially at least, an effort to ape “Silly Symphonies.”

As for cookies, I’ve always favored oatmeal raisin.

Thanks for the correction. The post has been updated. Very annoyed I did that.

I’m sure I will be covering a lot of films that deal with the damage to the national psyche wrought by the Depression. I am really anxious to see the development of noir (which with the possible exception of the Western) is a uniquely American-created genre of film and art.

I will definitely be checking your recommendations when I get there!