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The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked 

Ranker Film
Updated June 30, 2019 5.2k votes 914 voters 51.8k views 23 items

List Rules Vote up the best movies about or set during the Great Depression.

The Great Depression was a difficult time in American history so it's no surprise there are a lot of films are based on the incident. The best Great Depression movies range in terms of genre and tone. Some good movies about the great depression are works of fiction while other good movies about the great depression are based on real-life events. Many of the best films about the great depression feature award-winning actors and are considered some of the greatest films of all time. 

What films will you find on this top Great Depression movies list? The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 film – based on John Steinbeck's novel of the same name – that follows the Joad family after they lose their farm during the great depression. The movie won two Oscars in 1941 including the trophies for Best Director and Best Supporting Actress. The Green Mile is another good movie set during the great depression. Bonnie and Clyde follows a criminal couple as they rob banks during the great depression. Other good great depression movies featured on this list include To Kill a Mockingbird, Cinderella Man, and Paper Moon.

Which great depression movie do you think deserves the top spot on this list? Give your favorites a thumbs up. Then see what TV shows are set in the 1930s.

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1
The Green Mile is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Sam Rockwell

Released: 1999

Directed by: Frank Darabont

The Green Mile is a 1999 American fantasy drama film directed by Frank Darabont and adapted from the 1996 Stephen King novel of the same name. The film is told in a flashback format and stars ...more

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2
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck, William Windom

Released: 1962

Directed by: Robert Mulligan

To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The screenplay by Horton Foote was based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Harper Lee. ...more

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3
O Brother, Where Art Tho... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
George Clooney, John Goodman, Holly Hunter

Released: 2000

Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a 2000 adventure comedy film written, produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson, with ...more

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4
Of Mice and Men is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Sherilyn Fenn

Released: 1992

Directed by: Gary Sinise

Of Mice and Men is a 1992 film based on John Steinbeck's novella of the same name. Directed and produced by Gary Sinise, the film features Sinise as George Milton alongside John Malkovich as ...more

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5
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Henry Fonda, John Carradine, John Qualen

Released: 1940

Directed by: John Ford

The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 drama film directed by John Ford. It was based on John Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by Nunnally ...more

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6
Bonnie and Clyde is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Gene Hackman, Faye Dunaway, Gene Wilder

Released: 1967

Directed by: Arthur Penn

Bonnie and Clyde is a 1967 American biographical film directed by Arthur Penn and starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the title characters Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. The film ...more

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7
Annie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters, Greta Garbo

Released: 1982

Directed by: John Huston

Annie is a 1982 American musical comedy-drama film adapted from Broadway musical of the same name by Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan, which in turn is based on Little Orphan ...more

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8
Cinderella Man is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti

Released: 2005

Directed by: Ron Howard

Cinderella Man is a 2005 American drama film by Ron Howard, titled after the nickname of heavyweight boxing champion James J. Braddock and inspired by his life story. The film was produced by ...more

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9
Seabiscuit is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Elizabeth Banks, Jeff Bridges, Tobey Maguire

Released: 2003

Directed by: Gary Ross

Seabiscuit is a 2003 American biographical sports psychological-drama thriller film based on the best-selling non-fiction book Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. The film is ...more

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10
The Sting is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Kurt Taube added Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

Released: 1973

Directed by: George Roy Hill

The Sting is a 1973 American caper film set in September 1936, involving a complicated plot by two professional grifters to con a mob boss. The film was directed by George Roy Hill, who had ...more

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11
Paper Moon is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Tatum O'Neal, Randy Quaid, Madeline Kahn

Released: 1973

Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich

Paper Moon is a 1973 American comedy-drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich and released by Paramount Pictures. Screenwriter Alvin Sargent adapted the script from the novel Addie Pray by Joe ...more

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12
Water for Elephants is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz

Released: 2011

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Water for Elephants is a 2011 American romantic drama film directed by Francis Lawrence. Richard LaGravenese wrote the screenplay, which was based on Sara Gruen's 2006 novel of the same name. It ...more

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13
The Public Enemy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Jean Harlow, James Cagney, Joan Blondell

Released: 1931

Directed by: William A. Wellman

The Public Enemy is a 1931 American all-talking pre-code crime film produced and distributed by Warner Brothers. The film was directed by William A. Wellman and stars James Cagney, Jean Harlow, ...more

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14
Road to Perdition is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
AlexanderRay added Tom Hanks, Daniel Craig, Paul Newman

Released: 2002

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Road to Perdition is a 2002 American thriller film directed by Sam Mendes. The screenplay was adapted by David Self, from the graphic novel of the same name by Max Allan Collins. The film stars ...more

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15
Pennies from Heaven is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton

Released: 1936

Directed by: Norman Z. McLeod

Pennies From Heaven is a 1936 American musical comedy film directed by Norman Z. McLeod and starring Bing Crosby, Madge Evans, and Edith Fellows. Based on the novel The Peacock Feather by ...more
16
Mame is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Ian Sacci added Lucille Ball, Bea Arthur, Bruce Davison

Released: 1974

Directed by: Gene Saks

Mame is a 1974 musical film based on the 1966 Broadway musical of the same name and the 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis. It was directed by Gene Saks, written by Paul Zindel, and starred Lucille ...more
17
They Shoot Horses, Don't... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Jane Fonda, Bruce Dern, Red Buttons

Released: 1969

Directed by: Sydney Pollack

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is a 1969 American drama film directed by Sydney Pollack. The screenplay by James Poe and Robert E. Thompson is based on the 1935 novel of the same name by Horace ...more

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18
Sounder is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks, Peter MacNeill

Released: 2003

Directed by: Kevin Hooks

19
Mary Poppins Returns is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Mary Poppins Returns Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw

Directed by: Rob Marshall

Mary Poppins Returns is a 2018 American musical fantasy film directed by Rob Marshall. In 1935, during the era of the Great Depression in the United Kingdom, the now grown-up Jane (Emily ...more

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20
Give a Man a Job is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Give a Man a Job Moe Howard, Jimmy Durante

Released: 1933

Give a Man a Job is a short film produced in 1933 in conjunction with the National Recovery Administration in which audience members were encouraged to offer jobs to the unemployed in the midst ...more
21
Kit Kittredge: An Americ... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Stanley Tucci, Jane Krakowski, Abigail Breslin

Released: 2008

Directed by: Patricia Rozema

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl is a 2008 American comedy-drama film directed by Patricia Rozema. The screenplay by Ann Peacock focuses on the American Girl character Kit Kittredge, who lives in ...more

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22
The Purple Rose of Cairo... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Viggo Mortensen, Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels

Released: 1985

Directed by: Woody Allen

The Purple Rose of Cairo is a 1985 American romantic fantasy comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen. Inspired by Sherlock, Jr., Hellzapoppin', and Pirandello's Six Characters in Search ...more

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23
Zelig is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Caitlin O'Heaney

Released: 1983

Directed by: Woody Allen

Zelig is a 1983 American mockumentary film written and directed by Woody Allen and starring Allen and Mia Farrow. Allen plays Leonard Zelig, a nondescript enigma who, out of his desire to fit in ...more

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