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Heroes for Sale (1933)

 |  Drama, War  |  17 June 1933 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,652 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 14 critic

The saga of Tom Holmes - a man of principles - from the Great War to the Great Depression. Will he ever get a break? His war heroics earn fame and a medal for someone else, and his wounds ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Aline MacMahon ...
Gordon Westcott ...
Robert Barrat ...
Max (as Robert Barratt)
Mr. Winston
George Gibson
Pa Dennis (as Charles Grapewin)
Robert McWade ...
Dr. Briggs
Leader of Agitators (as George Pat Collins)
Blind Soldier
Laundry Company President
Margaret Seddon ...
Jeanette Holmes
Arthur Vinton ...
Captain Joyce
Robert Elliott ...
'Red' Squad Policeman #1


The saga of Tom Holmes - a man of principles - from the Great War to the Great Depression. Will he ever get a break? His war heroics earn fame and a medal for someone else, and his wounds result in a morphine addiction that costs him a job, his reputation in his home town, and months in a clinic. He goes to Chicago, where he's enterprising and dedicated to his work and his fellow workers, but an invention he champions results in the opposite of his intentions, leading to loss of life and an unjust imprisonment. After release, during the Depression, he must face local "red squads" and vigilante groups jousting out jobless men. Will anyone see his true heroic character? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War






Release Date:

17 June 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Breadline  »

Box Office


$290,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(copyright length) | (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director William A. Wellman used real hoboes for the fight scene and real laundry workers for the laundry scenes. See more »


A newspaper photograph showing the new equipment at the laundry mistakenly identifies Max Brinker as Hans Brinker. See more »


Thomas 'Tom' Holmes: You used to hate the capitalists.
Max Brinker: Naturally. That was before I had money.
See more »


Who Cares About Tomorrow?
Music by Harry Warren
Played when Tom first meets Ruth
Also played when Tom and Ruth are waiting for Mary to get ready
Also played when Tom is talking to Bill about Alaska
See more »

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User Reviews

Cynical and Superb
17 December 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Tough film from Warners during the depth of the Depression. Richard Barthelmess is great as the hapless "hero" who endures the misfortunes of WW I and the Depression, addiction and the "red scare." The film also boasts good work from Loretta Young, Aline MacMahon, Gordon Westcott, Charley Grapewin, Berton Churchill, Grant Mitchell, Robert Barrat, and James Murray as the blind solider.

Barthelmess was a major silent star and had a solid career in early talkies in films like THE LAST FLIGHT, THE DAWN PATROL, WEARY RIVER, and others. He also gave one of the all-time great performances in silent film in TOL'ABLE David.

HEROES FOR SALE is terrific because it shows how an ordinary man can beaten by an ordinary life and still be great. As Barthelmess suffers the misfortunes of war and life he seems to grow as a spiritual person. The hypocrisy around him never seems to get to his heart. There's a great scene where Barthelmess is sitting in the rain in a hobo camp when his eyes meet another man's. It's the banker's son (Gordon Westcott) who took the war glory after he thought Barthelmess had been killed. The sanctimonious banker had fired Barthelmess for his morphine addiction, but finally gets caught for stealing from the bank's depositors. The banker and son also did jail time (as Barthelmess did for leading a riot). The ironies of life become full blown there in the rain. A terrific scene.

Barthelmess is wonderful and so is Gordon Westcott (in his best film role). Young and MacMahon are always pleasures to watch.

24 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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