This chapter explores one of the ironies that color the history of the American film industry—the fact that its most glorious years, in terms of profitability, were those during which the entire nation struggled desperately to pull itself out of the depths of the Great Depression. Hollywood was as hard hit as any other industry by the stock market crash of 1929. But the captains of the film industry took advantage of several of the “New Deal” offers extended in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Owing in part to smart business practices and in large part to an audience desperately in need of inexpensive escapist entertainment, the American film industry after 1933 thrived on a circle of economic dependence on attendance, exhibition, and production; only after World War II did the circle reverse itself and turn vicious.
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