Brother, Can You Spare a Dollar

Brother, Can You Spare a Dollar

As seen in BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DOLLAR, a film by Thom Hoffman. Picture courtesy Thom Hoffman Productions. All rights reserved.

Brother, Can You Spare a Dollar

Associate Producer:
Production Company:
  • Thom Hoffman Productions
  • Ray Adell Video

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Brother, Can You Spare a Dollar (2012)

Opened: 08/17/2012 QUAD Cinema

QUAD Cinema08/17/2012 - 08/23/20127 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Facebook

Genre: Documentary

Rated: Unrated

If our current Recession became another Great Depression, could we handle it?


Thom Hoffman Productions, Ray Adell Video and New York's Quad Cinema present the New York theatrical premiere of the documentary, BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DOLLAR? (70 minutes), an unsentimental celebration of the guts and glory of the depression-era generation and a speculation about the future of our industrial and post-industrial economy.

Juxtaposing personal vignettes of seniors whose families suffered varying degrees of economic desperation, Hoffman expands upon the media's evocation of the Great Depression when reporting on the last four years of the current recession in the USA, by comparing and contrasting two very different societies.

Exploring the economic effects of World War I, through the breadlines, the inauguration of FDR and the 1939 World's Fair, Hoffman traces the beginnings of the socio-economic paradigm shift towards consumerism. With the guidance of scholars such as Alan Brinkley from Columbia University's Department of History, Kathleen Nutter from the Women's Studies Department at Stonybrook College, SUNY, the film reveals how the economic devastation of the Depression may have been a catalyst in forming a more cohesive society reflected by that generation's propensities to sacrifice for the greater good and lend help to one another. Along the way, the film elaborates the circumstances surrounding the de facto anthem of the Great Depression, the song, "Brother Can You Spare a Dime". (Notably, it would take more than $15.00 today to match the purchasing power of that dime in 1933, underscoring another of the film's bracing reminders, the price of poverty has risen.)

In explaining the effects of the Glass-Steagall Acts of 1932 and 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the potential for the Federal government to act as a catalyst for industrial development and job creation, Hoffman cautions, that along with dollar inflation, levels of expectation have been growing. "Following World War II our economy and culture has grown to depend on consumption, a quest for luxuries and conveniences and a willingness to go into debt to achieve them. I want people to realize," the Director urges, "they can't expect politicians to change their situation--they are a reflection of our priorities." Hoffman's hope is that we will "stop blindly accepting the conclusions fed to us by corporate media and once again put our communities ahead of our personal appetites."

Always intrigued by the differences between now and then, Hoffman's first feature documentary, STILL IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, studies the arc of doo wop music from the crooners of the 30's through its explosion in the 50's and then on to the groups, like Lenny Coco and the Chimes, still performing and satisfying contemporary nostalgia.

Hoffman lives and works on the South Shore of Long Island.