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Hollywood and the Great DepressionAmerican Film, Politics and Society in the 1930s$
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Iwan Morgan and Philip John Davies

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748699926

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699926.001.0001

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‘We’re Only Kids Now, But Someday …’: Hollywood Musicals and the Great Depression ‘Youth Crisis’

‘We’re Only Kids Now, But Someday …’: Hollywood Musicals and the Great Depression ‘Youth Crisis’

Chapter:
(p.216) Chapter 11 ‘We’re Only Kids Now, But Someday …’: Hollywood Musicals and the Great Depression ‘Youth Crisis’
Source:
Hollywood and the Great Depression
Author(s):

David Eldridge

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699926.003.0012

A number of Hollywood social dramas had documented the ‘youth crisis’ of the Depression era – limited employment prospects, vagrancy, delinquency, deprival of normal childhood. MGM’s Babes in Arms (1939), made when the worst of the economic crisis seemed over, was the first to do so in musical form. It confronted audiences not only with visions of an angry army of youth, but with young Americans facing impoverishment, crumbling parental authority, the threat of being taken into care, and incipient delinquency. Its commercial success spawned three other musicals – Strike Up the Band (1940), Babes on Broadway (1941) and Girl Crazy (1943), each of which raised the spectre of the ‘youth crisis’ that perplexed politicians, educators and sociologists. All of them had a happy ending, however, through the utopian instrument of kds putting on a musical show that demonstrated their capacity for collective action in a good cause, for still having wholesome fun, and for demonstrating patriotism.

Keywords:   MGM, Great Depression, Youth Crisis, New Deal, Musicals

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