Heroes for Sale - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Heroes for Sale Reviews

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½ April 17, 2013
A film that really touched me.
½ January 20, 2013
Very dated but still quite good. Heroes for sale tells the story about Thomas Holmes who has an unbreakable spirit despite all the obstacles he has to face.
Super Reviewer
½ January 10, 2013
socialist depression era classic, also notable as the last hollywood film to reference drug use for more than 20 years, until preminger's 'man with the golden arm' in 1955. loses some impact with the studio mandated 'everything will be ok with fdr' propaganda ending
January 5, 2013
Within its 71-minute time frame, this film (co-written by "professional cynic" Wilson Mizner) tackles such issues as disenfranchised war veterans, misguided hero worship, drug addiction, the Depression, capitalism, labor relations and communism.
October 24, 2012
3: The film is not particularly well written or structured, but the ending more than makes up for this. I couldn't really figure out where it was heading for the longest time, but this was mainly because I wasn't actively considering the social conditions surrounding the creation of the film. In the end both the rich man that was given everything on a silver platter and the poor man for whom everything was a struggle end up with nothing, as was the case with many during the Great Depression. The message is all about giving rather than taking and the rehabilitation of the American dream via the policies of FDR. It is actually quite effective, especially since I didn't see it coming. I can see why pictures made under the code largely failed to discuss topics like this, at least in such an overt and obvious manner. I suspect it wouldn't always be good for business, nor fit in with the rigid puritanical notions of those controlling the code.
August 24, 2011
Brilliant and often bleak social-satire from William A. Wellman. (Even the communist becomes a capitalist big with fascist impulses). It might be a bit confused in the end but this pungent stuff.
Super Reviewer
½ March 19, 2011
The consensual iconography within 1930s would be the conceits of endurance during the gritty Great Depression and the everlasting anticipation of Messiah - Roosevelt's New Deal, and such conceits are commonly seen in mass culture in this period . William A Wellman's pre-code depression social satire Heroes for Sale (1933) has followed this waiting-for-Messiah mindset, and this film is about a WWI veteran whose credit of bravery was stolen by his comrade, and he deteriorates into a dope-fiend due to the wound he receives during the war. The real hero of the state is not rewarded but rebuked for his severe sufferings. Later on, our rehabilitated hero accepts an anarchist philosopher's invention and applies it to the laundry factory he works for, and that has catapulted both of them into millionaires but also caused the loss of jobs for great many factory workers, who congregate as a mob to protest and damage the community properties. Therefore our guilt-stricken protagonist donates his entire fortune into charity funds for the un-employed meanwhile volunteers to be a drifter wandering around the American railways in a state of abjection.

This film has tackled many controversial issues in 1930s, and it suggests the injustices from the state and the idle rich as well as the technophobia of the early stage of industrialization in which humans are made obsolete and going to be substituted with the machines. (This idea was even more famously discussed in Chaplin's Modern Time) Furthermore, it also projects a sense of disbelief over the leftist anarchism, which is doomed to be corrupted by the seductions of wealth and leisure in the capitalist society. Despite its stark comments upon many depression issues, the ending retreats into the pacifist depression-conceits: endure more and wait for the Messiah, and our honorable protagonist shall be the heroic figure of the American commoners, who just grind their teeth and cross their fingers at the hope for the better tomorrow. Even the movie selects the reactionary path at last, but it still relentlessly reveals its loss of faith over the state.
½ January 6, 2010
A Great Drama that reflects the Problems of the USA while the Great Depression, it critize the War, Drug Addiction, The Handling with Drug Addicts, Capitalism, Communism and State Terror
November 3, 2009
Loretta Young shows her star power and acting chops.
Super Reviewer
½ October 10, 2009
The second film in TCM?s great depression series was even more of an unexpected treat. Director William Wellman is far from the most famous director of early Hollywood, but he?s really pretty important, having directed such films as Wings, The Public Enemy, and The Ox-Bow Incident and Wellman brings a lot of talent to this story of success and failure during hard times. The film depicts a World War One veteran who finds he can?t make ends meet in the country he fought to protect. When he does finally find some success he finds that trying to help his fellow workers is hard to do in a society that is actively hostile towards any attempt to help the working class. This is another film that captures the desperation of a country on the brink, and the film really gets better and better as it goes on. This could make a very interesting companion piece to William Wyler?s The Best Years of Our Lives.
½ June 6, 2009
Thanks TCM for showing this interesting movie. I wasn't sure of my own reaction to it; there seemed to be at least two movies in the same film brought together rather superficously at the end. I looked at the original July 22, 1933 New York Times review ("Pity the Hero") which said the same thing. So I felt a little better. The movie is good Warner Brothers and Billy Wellman grit. There's not much that doesn't happen to our hero. Let's see: he's all shot up and left for dead in WW I trenches, made a morphine addict, fired by the coward who knows the truth, wife killed, unjustly imprisoned, made a hobo, and torn from his son. Worst of all, he becomes wealthy and gives away all his money to the poor. The Jesus metaphor is even more blatant at the end, with his plaque (crucifix) on the wall with "Give Us Our Daily Bread" and junior saying he wants to grow up to be just like daddy. By the end of the movie I was ready to grab a copy of "Das Kapital" and sing La Marseillaise. Or maybe get more popcorn. I hate to say this, but when the Red Squad came to the door I couldn't help but think of Lt. Drebin from Police Squad. I just have to wonder what the audience reactions were back in 1933. This is a great flick to watch on Labor Day. Watch it right after seeing "Matewan."
½ May 3, 2009
Heroes for Sale (1933) -- [5.5] -- This movie follows Richard Barthelmess from the trenches of World War I to the unemployment lines of the Great Depression. It's a soapbox movie that brings up such heavy topics as drug addiction and communism. For being such a message movie, it's not a bad piece of entertainment. But it's optimistic to a fault and Barthelmess is a drab leading man.
½ April 26, 2009
Damn fine film. It pretty much follows the plot of the womans pictures genre of tragic circumstances happening to a good person, but it really works. Packs a hel of a punch.
½ March 23, 2009
A graphic film about the cruelty and greed of big business in the days before the great depression.
February 13, 2008
A crushing film. I guess I'm just a huge sucked for movies like this, but it's just beautiful. Heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time, and a great example of exactly how powerful pre-code films could be.
½ January 1, 2008
i was hoping for more focus on the morphine addiction.
½ December 15, 2007
Very professional effort from the always professional Wellman. The First World War, drug addiction, the Depression, Commies, hobos and FDR are all packed into this 72 minute film. But any depth is lost because so many years are compressed into so short a running time. There are some great riot scenes and, to quote another reviewer here: "The death of a major character is shocking, and is probably the saddest part of the film. "
December 7, 2007
On one hand, it's a movie showing just what was wrong with America during the Depression, focusing on a morphine-addicted WWI veteran. On the other hand, it's about a guy who might just be the unluckiest person alive. It's got an ambiguous downer of an ending, naturally, since it was filmed when the Depression was at its worst. The suspicion and criticism towards both radicals and workers and the police is interesting, but the soap opera just gets in the way of the message. The death of a major character is shocking, and is probably the saddest part of the film.
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