Best Films for WWI history, Jazz Age, Prohibition, Roaring 20s

Veterans Day remembers military worldwide who gave the last full measure in World War One. It's been said that WWI very nearly obliterated an entire generation. WWI, though relatively short for America, certainly took its toll on Americans in a succession of problems. Here are literature based movies to teach post WWI American history lessons. Use these book based films to explore the interconnected events that created one of brightest but also darkest periods in American history: the 1920s Jazz Age.
What were those problems? Prohibition (banning liquor sales and consumption) led to speakeasies and organized crime and the Jazz Age. Post WWI money struggles caused the Stock Market crash. The Dust Bowl (giant sandstorms that destroyed farms, and arguably brought on by the powerful weapons of WWI) pushed massive migration from farm to city. Post WWI unemployment drove the Great Depression and World War Two. Post WWI disillusionment was expressed in literature, social justice, music, art, education, theater, financial and political upheavals felt round the world.
The post WWI 1920s were called the Jazz Age for the new musical fever sweeping America. But the Jazz Age represented total upheaval in conventions. 1920s art progressives espoused startling new ideas: surrealism, Dadaism, Fauvism, Cubism, Modernism. Writers left post WWI America for the Left Bank Paris where they wrote wildly different prose and poetry. Drugs and absinthe ruled passions and plagued souls. Bright Young Things flouted Victorian prudishness in weird fashion. Women cut their hair, hemlines and apron strings. Reformers sought justice for socially oppressed. Even in medicine, Freudian psychoanalysis sought to exorcise demons of Victorian repression. Here are literature-based movies to explore the agony and ecstasy of the 1920s Jazz Age and post WWI American history lessons.
"Georgia O'Keefe" (2009) Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons share the 1920s love story of artist Georgia (Virginia) O'Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz photographer and owner of the renown Stieglitz Gallery. It helps students understand how artists were casting off old norms in post WWI American history. "A Marriage: Georgia O'Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz" (1991) is another good version.

"Johnny Got His Gun" (1971) should be required reading in all high school American history lessons or American Lit classes. Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted and banned from Hollywood for writing this story of a young soldier shot on the last day of World War One. The soldier muses on the bleakness of war after losing both arms, legs, eyes, ears and nose. This is one of the most haunting books you'll ever read or literature based movies you'll ever watch.
"Stormy Weather" and "Ain't Misbehavin" challenge racial stereotypes of the 1920s being movies with mostly or all-black casts. Both feature musicians from the Cotton Club--Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, the Nicholas Brothers, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and other jazz greats. "The Josephine Baker Story" explores the "Bronze Venus" a 1920s black dancer and singer who set the white world on fire.
"Chicago" Either the 2008 or 1979 versions are the best Jazz Age literature based movies you can see. The story line is tepid but it introduces students to the music of the era very well. Other good Jazz Age literature based movies are "The Jazz Singer" The 1927 Al Jolson versions and the 1980 Neil Diamond version tell of a Jewish cantor who defies his strict father to become a jazz artist. "Funny Girl" (1968) and "Funny Lady" (1975) explore Ziegfeld Follies singer Fanny Brice and her rise to stardom from Manhattan's lower east Jewish section.
"The Great Gatsby" literature based movies are psychodramas about high society party life of the Bright Young Things. F. Scott Fitzgerald looks at the repression in a rigid class structure. Show the 1974, 2000 or 2013 versions of The Great Gatsby. Baz Luhrman's 2013 has an excellent musical score.
"The Sting (1972) is a Dickensian story of organized rebellion against organized crime. The Scott Joplin's score "The Entertainer" sets the Jazz Age 1920s to music. "Public Enemy" is a classic Jimmy Cagney gangster film takes an honest look at life behind a gun. "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967 Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty) is surprisingly beautiful story of two wild, foolish kids in post WWI American who turn to crime for money and laughs.
"Reds" (1981, Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton) looks at the underground communist movement that followed Left Bank Paris Americans back to post WWI United States. A nice comparison film for "Reds" is "Midnight in Paris" which sets famous 1920s names--Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Eugene O'Neil, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Gertrude Stein, Man Ray, Salvador Dali, Josephine Baker, Cole Porter--in their native Left Bank Paris.
"Ragtime" by E.L.Doctorow looks at a post WWI 1920s American microcosm which encompasses Prohibition, social conventions and breaking them. Use this film for American history lessons.

Andrea Riseborough airs shocking weight loss in 'Witness for the Prosecution,' 'Bloodline'

Brit beauty Andrea Riseborough may not be a household name in the US but all that's about to change in the new season of the Netflix thriller "Bloodline." Riseborough also appears in the chilling new remake of Agatha Christie's "Witness for the Prosecution." If you knew her from "The Devil's Whore" or "Oblivion" or "Nocturnal Animals," you're in for a shock. In "Witness for the Prosecution" the actress appears skeletal. There are some creepy reasons for Andrea's bizarre weight loss. Some have to do with women's health and fashion post-WWI and Roaring Twenties. Andrea Riseborough airs shocking weight loss in 'Witness for the Prosecution,' 'Bloodline'

Election 2016 social media war drives voter burnout, Facebook unfriending among Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton voters

Besides nominating a president, Election 2016 has caused friends to cast votes for and against each other. The campaign has made enemies of friends and allies of strange bedfellows. The gauge for the election pulse is social media and if the massive amount of #Facebook unfriending is anything to go by, the temps are at fever pitch. The war between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters is creating a new phenomena--election burnout. Social media users are exhausted by the political rants, verbal bashing and hatred opponents show each other. Election 2016 sees more Facebook unfriending among Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton voters

Educational movies on American history: Native Americans, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving

 The Revenant is getting a lot of unearned accolades for its portrayal of early American history. That time period was violent to be sure, but Revenant is obligatorily so. Like Dances with Wolves, it sensationalizes rather than educates. That's the fault with a lot of American history films. Many movies about colonial America, the pilgrims (Puritans), native Americans and the first Thanksgiving holiday are romanticized. Some are downright fables. Educational movies on American history: Native Americans, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving |

Educational movies on May Day, labor unions, Labor Day American history lessons |

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, was designated to celebrate the achievements of organized labor unions in protecting workers' rights. Labor Day is about more than just BBQs and the last summer holiday. Here are educational movies on labor unions to watch for Labor Day or May Day on May 1. May Day is the actual Labor Day that unions recognize. May Day commemorates the May 4, 1886 Haymarket Riot (also called Haymarket affair) in Haymarket Square in Chicago. Use the educational movies for May Day American history lessons and to celebrate Worker Memorial Day on April 28.   Educational movies on May Day, labor unions, Labor Day American history lessons |

Earth Day recycled trash kids crafts: Decoder spy rings, printable secret codes |

For Earth Day or America Recycles Day how about cool recycled trash kids crafts? Here are free printable secret codes with patterns for decoder spy rings made out of recycled junk. Spy stuff was haute kid culture when I was young. Decoder spy rings are part Rosetta Stone cum Rubix Cube with retro 1950s flair. Secret codes are heaven for puzzle enthusiasts and the decoder spy rings of yore make a comeback regularly!  Earth Day recycled trash kids crafts: Decoder spy rings, printable secret codes |

History activities: Historical reenactment in living history wax museum lessons |

Spring means different things to different people and for me it's a time to prepare for summer historical reenactments. I'm a history nerd. So it saddens me to hear people say they hate history. But I don't blame them--those who dislike it usually weren't taught history properly. Their only contact with history was via boring textbooks, uninspiring paper and pencil lesson plans and rote memorization of facts. Nothing could be more antithesis to the way history should be learned.  History activities: Historical reenactment in living history wax museum lessons |

Free printable Passover kids crafts, Jewish activities on Hebrew Pesach holidays |

Passover or Pesach, is a high celebration in the Jewish Hebrew calendar. Passover is an eight-day holiday, beginning with two days of no work, four days of limited work and ending with two days of no work. The Passover celebration includes several Seder meals, with roast lamb, bitter herbs and matzo bread. Passover, or Pesach commemorates the passing over of the angel of death during the ten plagues of Egypt. God punished the Egyptians for the enslavement of the Hebrews. First born male infants were to die unless the blood of a lamb was put on the lintels and door posts. Passover, or Pesach, is part of Christian calendar as well; it was at the Passover meal that Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist or communion.   Free printable Passover kids crafts, Jewish activities on Hebrew Pesach holidays |

Free printable Laura Ingalls Wilder book activities: Little House on the Prairie |

If you were a girl growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, you read and loved Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie book series. Maybe you were lucky to have the handsome boxed set of Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Then you loved the Little House on the Prairie TV series when it came out. Long before "Pioneer Woman" and settler survival type reality TV shows, there was Laura Ingalls Wilder and her stories about life in the 1880s midwest. Laura Ingalls Wilder fans will be happy to know that a new movie based on the Little House on the Prairie books is in the works at Paramount.   Free printable Laura Ingalls Wilder book activities: Little House on the Prairie |

Vintage Valentines Day gifts for women, distinctively different presents with a nostalgic, retro flair

Sick of the stereotypical Valentines Day gifts of card, candy and flowers? Want to get your lady something really special? Here are distinctively different Valentines Day presents for women. These are presents to impress her plus win you brownie points for being cultured and creative. First, ditch mainstream stores, Go off the beaten path to local antiques stores, consignment shops, secondhand retailers, even Good Will. Seriously, you'll find distinctive Valentines Day gifts reasonably priced.  Valentines Day gifts for women, distinctively different presents to impress |

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