Brother, Can You Spare A Billion? The Story of Jesse Jones  

Jesse Jones and FDR


Jones' influence and power shaped the way American government operated at a critical period in our history: 1932-1945. But his role and his actions don't lend themselves to easy explanations. He was the puppeteer manipulating a multi-stringed marionette. A twitch of his little finger produced an enormous kick - but when you're watching the show, it's the puppet that's fun to see. As for the puppeteer - it's still just a twitch of a little finger. My job was to make those little twitches both understandable and compelling to the audience.

As we looked deeper into Jesse Jones and how he did what he did, we kept coming back to a theme of American history that is as relevant today as ever: the role of central government. And that is the frame in which we can put this forgotten figure in his rightful place. Today both Republicans and Democrats eagerly assail "big government" as the problem. But what Jesse Jones recognized is that government is the solution to many of the economic problems that can overtake even a huge nation like ours. His genius - somehow gleaned on an 8th grade education and a massively successful business career - was to use government to make things go, not to slow things down.

That is the real story of Jesse H. Jones - and Brother, Can You Spare A Billion? The Story of Jesse H. Jones tells that story with a very compelling and human face on it. I'm proud of this film for many reasons, but most of all I enjoy it when historians of the New Deal say - and they do - "Yes, Jesse Jones has been overlooked. We need to understand more about how he shaped his times."

He may not yet be a household name, but at least we are shining a little light into this long forgotten corner of our history.