Public Domain Movies

Our Daily Bread (1934)
Running Time: 78 mins Black & White

One of the 20 or so men birthing the communal farm says 'lets establish an immortal democracy' with super political bombast. They all say 'no that got us into this mess.' The next says 'lets be socialist. the government should control everything'. Many say no to that. Then the humble Swedish guy says "Well i don't know the meaning of any of these words you all just said but i know this, we need a big man for a big job and John is the biggest man here.' Everyone cheers and shouts hip hip hooray for John. Well there you go. The rest of the film has as much depth as this scene. The level of detail and care put into realism is also comparable.

Plow That Broke the Plains (1936)
Running Time: 25 mins Black & White

First we cleared the Indian. Then we cleared the buffalo." Gosh, didn't they have a UN back in the 1800s to stop ethnic cleansing? Guess not. They could have sent Canadian troops into the Kansas region to stop the predominantly Christian Yankees from murdering the Ethnic Indians. This movie is full of a narrator shouting about 'the wheat' and weird shots of everything from WWI tanks to starving kids and Okies packing their trucks to go west. People say that modern TV news is all flash and no substance. Apparently things were the same in the 1939 though. The end shows how the great Federal Government is setting up agencies to prevent the topsoil from being blown away as it was during the 'dust bowl'. The govt is also helping all those poor refugees from the drought who had to pack up and move west. Yeah Right.

Plow That Broke The Plains, The (1934)
Running Time: 30 mins Black & White

Illustrates the devastating effect disasters had on the farmers in Oklahoma and Texas, who were already reeling from the Depression.

Power and the Land (1940)
Running Time: 33 mins Black & White

A documentary showing the struggle to bring electricity to rural areas of the United States.

River, The (1937)
Running Time: 31 mins Black & White

This short Depression-era documentary describes the importance of the Mississippi River to the United States. It laments the environmental destruction committed in the name of progress, particularly farming and timber practices which cause massive erosion and result in vast amounts of top soil being washed down the river into the Gulf of Mexico. The film focuses especially on the impact this has had on impoverished farmers. It ends on a very upbeat note, however, with a celebration of the TVA, "modern" farming technology, and the use of dams to control the river and prevent flooding.

We Work Again (1937)
Running Time: 15 mins Black & White
Starring: William Lawrence, Juanita Hall
We Work Again is a 1937 ephemeral film produced by the Work Projects Administration to promote its employment and training efforts for African-Americans during the Great Depression. Various jobs are shown, including public construction projects, domestic service and health care training, adult education programs and performing arts. It is particularly noted for containing the only existing footage of the 1936 Federal Theatre Project production of Macbeth, directed by Orson Welles and featuring an all-black cast.