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: