ÃÂ WORDÃÂ -AND-ÃÂ CANDALÃÂ : HOLLYWOOD'ÃÂ ROME DURING THE GREAT DEPREÃÂ ÃÂ ION
ÃÂ everal Hollywood filmÃÂ produced during the DepreÃÂÃÂion yearÃÂ 1932-1935 utilized ÃÂtereotypical imageÃÂ of Rome and RomanÃÂ to addreÃÂÃÂ and to exploit anxietieÃÂ precipitated by thiÃÂ economic cataÃÂtrophe. Of theÃÂe, two box-office hitÃÂ, The ÃÂ ign of the CroÃÂÃÂ (1932) and Roman ÃÂ candalÃÂ (1933), employ the ÃÂtandard trope of RomanÃÂ aÃÂ the decadent oppreÃÂÃÂorÃÂ of a virtuouÃÂ, innocent, but ultimately triumphant people, but each figureÃÂ itÃÂ corrupt RomanÃÂ in wayÃÂ that ÃÂpoke differently to DepreÃÂÃÂion audienceÃÂ. Each film'ÃÂ repreÃÂentation of Rome drawÃÂ on the genre conventionÃÂ to which the film belongÃÂ, hiÃÂtorical epic and comedy. Cecil B. DeMille'ÃÂ "ÃÂword and ÃÂandal" epic, The ÃÂ ign of the CroÃÂÃÂ, focuÃÂed on the Roman perÃÂecution of ChriÃÂtianÃÂ and offered ÃÂpectatorÃÂ both an uplifting meÃÂÃÂage of ÃÂpiritual redemption and vicariouÃÂ enjoyment of Roman wealth and decadence. By contraÃÂt, in ÃÂ amuel Goldwyn'ÃÂ muÃÂical comedy, Roman ÃÂ candalÃÂ, ancient Rome and DepreÃÂÃÂion America mirror each other; renewal and relief reÃÂult from a cleanÃÂing of graft and corruption from the Roman, and hence alÃÂo the American, political ÃÂyÃÂtemÃÂ.
ImageÃÂ of Rome in filmÃÂ made during the early 1930ÃÂ offer a faÃÂcinating example of how America'ÃÂ metaphoric relationÃÂhip to Rome took popular and commercial ÃÂhape during a time of great economic hardÃÂhip and political turbulence. AmericanÃÂ had never faced anything quite like the Great DepreÃÂÃÂion before. There had been economic depreÃÂÃÂionÃÂ in the paÃÂt, but nothing aÃÂ cataÃÂtrophic and enduring aÃÂ the eventÃÂ that followed in the wake of Black TueÃÂday, October 29, 1929. In the firÃÂt two monthÃÂ after the CraÃÂh, the number of unemployed in the United ÃÂ tateÃÂ went from fewer than half a million to more than four million. By 1932, one out of four AmericanÃÂ waÃÂ unemployed, and by 1933, fifteen million people had no work.