top of page

The year 1932 was a critical point in American history. The Great Depression was in full swing, and the clock was running down on the final year of a presidential administration that had long since exhausted its supply of ineffectual remedies to the financial crisis that was even now slouching its way toward absolute rock bottom.

Meanwhile, the country’s mood had reached its emotional and psychological nadir. With no coherent alternative offering hope of redemption, there existed the palpable anxiety that the entire social fabric of the nation could unravel. And the Hollywood films of that year reflected that national nervousness and uncertainty in ways both direct and unexpected, expressing it with an aesthetic depth and conviction that was just beginning to blossom within the new medium of talking pictures.

At this point in time, the American film industry, which had successfully come out the other end of its awkward transition from silent to sound film, was confidently, even swaggeringly exploring its freshly discovered pathways in cinematic grammar—and the greater freedom of expression possible during the “pre-Code” era opened new avenues for movie studios to capture and explore the distraught national climate with more realistic detail than ever before.

Published across three volumes, Pack Up Your Troubles: Some American Films from 1932 takes a long, deep look at the many recurring themes and attitudes explored by American films in their multifaceted embodiment of this crucial cultural moment.

Unlike the majority of such studies, which focus narrowly on a predetermined set of themes and select from a finite collection of moments taken out of context from their source films, this study is centered expansively on the vast diversity within the body of films themselves.

Grouped into sixteen thematic chapters, each film is examined from beginning to end, revealing itself through the developing analysis, creating a multidimensional view of the theme being explored. Each chapter leads logically to the next, ultimately creating a comprehensive overview of this crucial moment in time as viewed by our nation’s movies.

Pack Up Your Troubles was written not only for fans of 1930s films but for all those interested in the history of the Hollywood studio system in general. It is a straightforward, non-academic exploration of a unique period in filmmaking that also carries the depth and breadth of analysis necessary to make it a work worth inclusion in American film history studies.

bottom of page