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ERIC Number: EJ933472
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Five Good Reasons to Show "Great Guy" (1936) in Our U.S. History and American Studies Classes (and the Challenges We'll Face)
Allocco, Katherine
History Teacher, v44 n1 p19-33 Nov 2010
One of the most versatile and multi-faceted films that an educator can use to illustrate urban America in the 1930s is "Great Guy," a relatively obscure film from 1936 directed by John G. Blystone and starring James Cagney and Mae Clarke. There are some simple practical considerations that make the film such a good fit for an American history or American Studies class. It is only one hour and twelve minutes long. It is available for free from "Entertainment Magazine" online and can be easily shown from their website in any smart classroom. The story is direct, easy to follow, and entertaining. Beyond these details, though, this film offers a rich portrayal of America in the 1930s and--though a fictional story--is a fantastic historical source. Furthermore, because the film is set during a period of economic crisis and directly addresses cultural conflict over gender, immigration, and the role of government in American citizens' lives among its many themes, the issues raised in this film are also relevant to current American policy debates and cultural concerns and will resonate with the students and help them contextualize their own world within a greater historical narrative. In this article, the author provides a synopsis of the film, explains why this film is an excellent pedagogical tool, discusses the challenges for faculty in using this film, and suggests strategies for meeting these challenges. (Contains 29 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A