One Third of a Nation

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  • Approved
  • 1939
  • 1 hr 19 min
  • 6.1  (306)

One Third of a Nation is a 1939 social drama film directed by Dudley Murphy and produced by The Federal Theatre Project. Starring Sylvia Sidney, Leif Erickson, and Myron McCormick, the film is based on Arthur Arent's play of the same name. Set during the Great Depression, the film tells the story of a young woman named Mary Rogers (Sylvia Sidney), who lives in a tenement with her family. Mary is engaged to Joe (Leif Erickson), a labor activist who is committed to improving the living conditions of the poor. When a fire breaks out in the tenement, Mary's brother (Sidney Lumet) is injured and the family is evicted. Joe convinces Mary to move in with him, but their relationship is strained when Mary becomes pregnant.

As Mary struggles to adjust to her new life, she is forced to confront the realities of poverty and social inequality. She becomes involved with a group of social activists who are fighting for housing reform, and she begins to see the world through their eyes. Meanwhile, Joe becomes increasingly radicalized and begins to put his own life in danger.

One Third of a Nation is a powerful drama that explores the human toll of poverty and social injustice. The film's themes are as relevant today as they were in 1939, and its message is both poignant and thought-provoking. The performances are excellent, particularly that of Sidney, who delivers a sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a woman struggling to find her place in the world.

The film also benefits from its strong visual style. The cinematography is moody and atmospheric, with many scenes shot in shadowy, low-light settings. The use of close-ups and tight framing creates a sense of intimacy that draws the viewer into the characters' world.

One of the most notable aspects of the film is its origin. Produced by The Federal Theatre Project, a New Deal program that provided employment to thousands of unemployed actors, writers, and directors during the Depression, the film is a unique historical artifact. It is both a reflection of its time and a testament to the power of storytelling as a means of social commentary.

In conclusion, One Third of a Nation is a must-see film for anyone interested in social drama and Depression-era cinema. Its powerful message, excellent performances, and evocative visual style make it one of the most memorable films of its era.

One Third of a Nation
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 19 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.1  (306)