The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked
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.
- Released: 1962
- Directed by: Robert Mulligan
Set in the Deep South during the 1930s, this classic film adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel delves into the harsh realities of racial injustice and economic despair. Gregory Peck's portrayal of the principled lawyer Atticus Finch remains iconic, as he defends a black man wrongfully accused of assaulting a white woman. Amidst this, the movie also captures the innocence of childhood, as seen through the eyes of Finch's young daughter, Scout.
- Released: 1992
- Directed by: Gary Sinise
Based on John Steinbeck's novella, this heart-wrenching tale follows the friendship between two displaced migrant ranch workers, George (played by Gary Sinise) and Lennie (John Malkovich). Their dream of owning a piece of land and living a better life is ultimately derailed by forces beyond their control, as the film explores themes of loneliness, powerlessness, and the enduring human spirit amidst the bleak backdrop of the Depression era.
- Released: 1940
- Directed by: John Ford
Another Steinbeck masterpiece brought to life on screen, this film chronicles the arduous journey of the Joad family, who are forced to leave their Oklahoma farm during the Dust Bowl. Led by the indomitable Tom Joad (Henry Fonda), the family faces countless hardships as they trek westward towards the promised land of California. Their perseverance in the face of adversity serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit during one of America's most trying times.
- Released: 1999
- Directed by: Frank Darabont
This Stephen King adaptation, set in the 1930s, stars Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb, a death row corrections officer who encounters an extraordinary inmate named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan). With supernatural powers and a mysterious connection to a series of violent crimes, Coffey's presence forces Edgecomb to confront questions of justice, mercy, and the nature of humanity. Despite its supernatural elements, the film remains grounded in the historical context of the Great Depression and the American South.
- Released: 2000
- Directed by: Joel Coen
This Coen brothers' dark comedy, loosely based on Homer's The Odyssey, follows the misadventures of three escaped convicts—Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney), Pete Hogwallop (John Turturro), and Delmar O'Donnell (Tim Blake Nelson)—as they traverse the Depression-era South in search of hidden treasure. The film's quirky characters, witty dialogue, and memorable soundtrack evoke the spirit of the time while offering a unique take on the struggles of the era.
- Released: 1967
- Directed by: Arthur Penn
Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty star as the infamous outlaw couple, who captured the public imagination during the Depression with their daring bank robberies and subsequent crime spree. This biographical crime film delves into the motivations behind their actions, painting a complex portrait of two individuals driven by desperation, ambition, and a desire for infamy in a time of economic turmoil.