Oregon State University



Event Details

The Conscience of Hollywood

The Rise of Social Protest Cinema, 1932-1937

Saturday, January 20, 2018 11:00 AM - Saturday, March 3, 2018 11:00 AM

In many compelling ways, America in the 21st century bears a remarkable resemblance to the America of the 1930s: a polarized political climate rife with economic disparity, a legal system riddled with corruption, ethnic targeting and immigration worries--all topics that resonate with an eerie similarity to the travails of today's uncertain world.

Hollywood in the 30s, in all its uncanny and prescient wisdom, was quick to respond to the social injustices it perceived with a stream of hard-hitting and uncompromising entertainments designed to ignite the passions and fuel the hopes of beleaguered movie-goers across the country. Leading the way in this exciting new direction was WARNER BROS, a studio that would immediately become identified with a sensational new kind of cinematic movement: the social protest film. Contemporary cinema audiences (as well as students of political and social history) can learn a great deal from these pungent lessons from the past.

Whether dealing with outright societal issues (from juvenile delinquency to the staggering brutality of a wantonly corrupt prison system) or merely human dramas reflecting on the challenging times and conditions facing everyday Americans, WARNER BROS, more than any other Hollywood studio at the time, had its finger firmly on the pulse of what made this country tick. With deft precision, these films took careful aim at the myriad of dilemmas that faced our embattled nation.

This stimulating six-week survey will be nothing short of a total immersion into the world of socially conscious cinema with the viewing and discussion of six amazing films, all produced between 1932 and 1937. These inspiring classic films (featuring the works of such notable directors as William Wellman and Mervyn LeRoy, and stars like Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, and James Cagney) helped heal a fractured nation with thought-provoking examples of dynamic populist entertainment--films capable of providing audiences with renewed hope for a better way of life.

The films to be viewed in class are:


  1. I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
  2. Heroes for Sale (1933)
  3. Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
  4. They Won’t Forget (1937)
  5. Black Legion (1937)
  6. Marked Woman (1937)

Students will be presented with a vivid portrait of American political and social history as reflected by contemporary cinema of the day. Of equal importance, students will be exposed to a brilliant array of cinematic art which will hopefully broaden their appreciation for film from this classic period.


Register Here.  

Off Campus
Cinema 21
616 NW 21st Ave
PACE at oregonstate.edu
This is a repeating event starting on: 01/20/2018 11:00 AM
  • Recurring every week, on Saturdays, (with weeks starting on Monday), ending on 03/03/2018
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