By 1929, Charles Mitchell, President of the National City Bank (which would become Citibank), had popularized the idea of selling stock and high yield bonds directly to smaller investors. Mitchell and a very small group of bankers, brokers, and speculators manipulated the stock market, grew wealthy and helped create the economic boom of that fabulous decade. Their successes made them folk heroes of the day. The Crash of 1929 chronicles a fateful year through the words and experiences of the descendants of these titans of finance.
In 1929, while the market was rising, seemingly without limits, there were few critics. Based on eight years of continued prosperity, presidents and economists alike confidently predicted that America would soon enter a time when there would be no more poverty, no more depressions — a “New Era” when everyone could be rich.
Instead it was the rich who became richer. Jesse Livermore, a Wall Street insider, drove around town in one of six yellow Rolls Royces. His daughter-in-law describes his two yachts, private railway car and five homes, including an apartment on Fifth Avenue he bought to have a place where he could change clothes for the theater.
Michael Meehan was the stock specialist who manipulated the glamour stock of the day, RCA, from $2.50 a share up to a peak of over $500 a share, making millions for the few who were in on the deal. William Durant, founder of General Motors, was called “King of the Bulls.” In October of 1929, he would lose millions in a desperate, single-handed effort to stop the stock market crash.
Before the crash, the success of these men convinced small investors that the stock market was a sure thing, that Wall Street was the smart place to put one’s money. The film features the recollections of people whose families experienced the crash. Groucho Marx’s son, Arthur, remembers how his famous father detested gambling, yet put his entire life savings in stocks.
The Crash of 1929 captures the unbounded optimism of the age, a time when the stock market epitomized the false promise of permanent prosperity.
The 1968 Democratic National Convention saw a clash of political visions on the convention floor and violence outside on the streets of Chicago.
A courageous band of civil rights activists called Freedom Riders who in 1961 challenged segregation in the American South.
The grave truth behind modern forensics was discovered in 1920s New York.
The story of the American civil rights movement is told through its powerful music -- the freedom songs that protesters sang on picket lines, in mass meetings, in police wagons, and in jail cells as they fought for justice and equality.
The world famous escape artist could escape from everything - except his own mortality.
Explore how Orson Welles' genius use of the new medium of radio struck fear into an already anxious nation.
Prohibition's effect on Detroit, Michigan, the first major American city to "go dry," and the growth of the liquor smuggling industry.
The story behind the development of the oral contraceptive that put women in control of birth control.