The Golden Twenties is a 1950 American documentary film produced by Richard de Rochemont. The film is narrated by Frederick Lewis Allen, Robert Q. Lewis, Allen Prescott, Red Barber, and Elmer Davis. The second reel of the film begins by covering the trial of educator John Scopes (00:16), prosecuted by William Jennings Bryant (00:36) for teaching evolution. Scopes and the principle of freedom of thought are defended by Dudley Field Malone (01:06) and Clarence Darrow (01:18), but the court ultimately finds Scopes guilty. President Harding dies in 1923 and large crowds turn out to pay respect at the funeral (01:39). Calvin Coolidge (02:01; 03:06) becomes president and must overcome the Wyoming and Tea Pot Dome scandal (02:17), in which a secret lease of government oil fields is made by Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall (02:34) to millionaire Harry F. Sinclair. Coolidge survives and is reelected, leading to a Republican celebration at the inaugural ball (03:34). America continues to grow, and no place grows faster than Florida (04:00) and, specifically, Miami (04:12). Though both are hit by a devastating hurricane. Famous international figures visit the U.S. during this time, including the Prince of Wales (05:56) and Queen Marie of Romania (06:23). Queen Marie receives a ticker-tape parade in her honor (07:01). In sports, the New York Giants (07:10) and New York Yankees (07:23) train, as do the Brooklyn Dodgers (07:45) under the eye of Ben Egan. George Sisler (07:54) is the famous player-manager of the St. Louis Browns, but it is Babe Ruth (08:11) who breaks the home run record and leads the Yankees to winning the 1927 World Series (08:32) over the Pirates in four straight games. In other sports headlines, Bobby Jones (09:05) sweeps golf tournaments in Britain and the U.S., Man O’War (09:26) proves to be one of the greatest race horses of all times, and the likes of Red Grange (10:15) and Knute Rockne (10:32) rule the football fields. Johnny Weissmuller (11:07) sets the world record for swimming, and Gertrude Ederle (11:45) becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel earning the love of millions and a massive New York parade (12:08). Men’s tennis is dominated by Bill Tilden (12:32), while Molla Mallory, Suzanne Lenglen, and Helen Wills (12:50) top women’s tennis. Jack Dempsey (13:09) is the king of boxing until his controversial loss to Gene Tunney (14:10). In literature, some of the great writers of the day are Michael Arlen (15:30), Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells (15:47), and John Galsworthy. Radio towers are built (16:15) all across America, and Americans closely follow intriguing news stories such as the Halls-Mills murder case (16:58) and the Floyd Collins story (17:28). Famous music stars include Metropolitan Opera stars (18:02) Lawrence Tibbett, Rosa Ponselle, and Madam Ernestine Schumann-Heink; singers Marion Talley (18:30) and Grace Moore, and musicians George Gershwin (18:40), Irving Berlin, and Harry Lauder (19:35). In other areas of entertainment, Earl Carroll’s Vanities shows measure women’s bodies (20:00), “proving” the beauty of American women. Americans go to watch automobiles race (20:28). Aviation continues its evolution (21:22), with gyrocopters and other unproven aircraft designs attempting to take flight—often crashing long before making any significant flight. A glider (22:13) soars before throwing the pilot and crashing to the ground. The most famous person in aviation is Charles A. Lindbergh (23:14), who flies from New York to Paris, where he receives a hero’s welcome. Upon his return to New York, he receives another hero’s welcome (23:54). Henry Ford turns out his 15th million car, then celebrates by sitting in the first car he ever made (25:47). President Coolidge accepts an honorary chiefship from the Sioux of South Dakota (24:30) and aids Europe’s post-war recovery with the Kellogg-Briand Pact (26:40). The 1928 presidential race pits Al Smith (27:10) — against Herbert Hoover (27:30). People pack into Times Square on election night (27:44). Hoover wins (28:20) and rides to the Capitol for the swearing in ceremony (29:15). The film shows more scenes of American revelry: beach goers enjoying sun and sand (29:30); Arthur Hammerstein, Irene Castle, and Helen Morgan enjoy coastal Florida life; spectators take in a fashion parade (30:20); people dancing the Charleston (31:45); and the bright lights of Times Square (32:12) and Broadway beckon men and women to enjoy the nightlife. However, the carefree fun crashes to an end with the collapse of Wall Street (34:10), leading to panic and the Great Depression, ending the golden playtime of the 1920s.
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