Entertainment

The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked  

Ranker Film
4.6k votes 806 voters 44.8k 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.

list ordered by
1
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck, William Windom
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
2
The Green Mile is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Sam Rockwell
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
3
O Brother, Where Art Thou? is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
George Clooney, John Goodman, Holly Hunter
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
7
Annie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters, Greta Garbo
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
8
Seabiscuit is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Elizabeth Banks, Jeff Bridges, Tobey Maguire
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
9
Cinderella Man is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
14
Pennies from Heaven is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton
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
15
Mame is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Ian Sacci added Lucille Ball, Bea Arthur, Bruce Davison
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
16
Road to Perdition is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
AlexanderRay added Tom Hanks, Daniel Craig, Paul Newman
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
17
Mary Poppins Returns is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw
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
18
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Jane Fonda, Bruce Dern, Red Buttons
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
19
Sounder is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks, Peter MacNeill
20
Kit Kittredge: An American Gir... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Stanley Tucci, Jane Krakowski, Abigail Breslin
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
21
Give a Man a Job is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
Give a Man a Job Moe Howard, Jimmy Durante
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
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
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
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
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