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Brother Can You Spare A Dime? is the chronicle of an unforgettable piece of American history – twelve crazy, painful see-saw years, from the Wall Street crash to Pearl Harbor. By juxtaposing contemporary news and documentary footage with extracts from Hollywood classics such as “Golddiggers,” “Lady Killer” and “Wild Boys of the Road,” director Philippe Mora offers us an immediate, intricate and evocative scrapbook of the 1930’s. Somehow there are uncanny echoes of some of our current preoccupations: strikers at Ford’s, mass unemployment, breadlines, vigilante gangs and failing fortunes… Two heroes emerge: James Cagney, the rough diamond, hood-with-a-heart-of-gold star of the Movies, the little man who won’t be beaten, and Franklin D. Roosevelt himself: tough yet benign, stepping into the breach with confidence and determination, yet imperceptibly crumpling under the weight of responsibility as he leads America through her most difficult years until the final humiliation of Pearl Harbor. Songs and images stick in the mind: fortunes dwindle, the small man’s savings disappear, even the Banks go bust; men lose their jobs and join the breadlines to the haunting title song of “Brother, can you spare a dime?”; hobos and oakies take to the road while Bessie Smith sings “Nobody loves you when you’re down and out”; a ragged child huddles against the bleak landscape as Woody Guthrie sings the “Dustbowl Blues”; an abandoned cat shivers on the ledge of a flooded home… Only Hollywood offers an escape from reality for these are the Golden Years of Bogart, Cooper and Dietrich. We glimpse Gable and Vivien Leigh at the screen test of “Gone with the Wind”; George Raft dances a languorous tango with Carole Lombard; Shirley Temple dimples and Chaplin jokes while Busby Berkeley fills the screen with his lavish extravaganzas…and the marathon dancers stumble on… As Ginger Rogers says: “It’s the depression, dearie… Bonus: Nearly an hour of Pathe Newsreels from the period.