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Recession Era Movies: From Fast & Furious to Grapes of Wrath

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 6, 2009 at 5:30AM

As Fast & Furious does better at the weekend b.o. than it has any right to do--the weekend was up 75-80% from last year-- Entertainment Weekly's Mark Harris sees the first casualty of the recession: ambition. If all audiences want is escape, he worries, that's all the studios and TV networks will give them. "Stop the inanity!" he pleads.
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As Fast & Furious does better at the weekend b.o. than it has any right to do--the weekend was up 75-80% from last year-- Entertainment Weekly's Mark Harris sees the first casualty of the recession: ambition. If all audiences want is escape, he worries, that's all the studios and TV networks will give them. "Stop the inanity!" he pleads.

Back in 1940, for example, Twentieth Century Fox acquired the rights to John Steinbeck's great Depression novel The Grapes of Wrath, hired John Ford to direct, Nunnally Johnson to write and Henry Fonda to star as Tom Joad. The results: two Oscar wins (for Ford and Jane Darwell) and money in the bank.


The NYT's Dave Kehr looks some Paramount Depression era DVD releases.

We're reading The Grapes of Wrath for my book group this month. Here's the trailer:


This article is related to: Cash Crunch, Video, Genres, Box Office, Books, Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.