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Who's in the Money?

The Great Depression Musicals and Hollywood’s New Deal

Harvey G. Cohen

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Explores the connections and tensions between Warner Bros. and the Roosevelt administration during 1933

Harry and Jack Warner were among the most important advocates and fundraisers of President Franklin Roosevelt during his 1932 presidential campaign, supporting his New Deal legislation in successful Great Depression musicals like 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933, and Footlight Parade. But while the Warner brothers posed as exemplars of the New Deal in real life and in their movies, they were attempting to reverse Roosevelt’s policies within their studio and their industry.

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1: The Warners And Franklin Roosevelt
2: The Great Depression Musicals
3: Footlight Parade
4: On the Job
5: The Nra Code
6: Post-1933: A Conclusion

About the Author

Harvey G. Cohen is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, King’s College London. He is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters and his monograph Duke Ellington’s America (University of Chicago Press, 2010) was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post.


'Using an extensive variety of sources judiciously, Harvey G. Cohen is able to demonstrate, in a most persuasive manner, the complex ways in which these three film musicals of 1933 played out wider struggles in American society in the midst of the Great Depression. The author ably analyses how the complex interweaving between political, economic and aesthetic factors were so closely interlinked in these films, and the ramifications in the wider political arena. Notions of ‘pure entertainment’ are thus shown up to be much more complex than they might, at first sight, appear, and this book demonstrates in great detail how light-hearted musicals can have more depth than their glossy surface might initially suggest.'
- Allister Mactaggart, Chesterfield College , Cercles

'Harvey G. Cohen's Who's In the Money? is a brilliantly written and thoroughly researched study of such classic Great Depression era musicals as Footlight Parade and Gold Diggers of 1933. The cast of characters in these pages - Franklin Roosevelt, Walt Disney, James Cagney, Upton Sinclair, Hugh Johnson, among others - is extraordinary. Cohen's enthusiasm for his topic is self evident. Highly recommended!'

- Professor Douglas Brinkley, Rice University


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