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Heroes for Sale (1933)

 -  Drama | War  -  17 June 1933 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,408 users  
Reviews: 29 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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Title: Heroes for Sale (1933)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Aline MacMahon ...
Gordon Westcott ...
Robert Barrat ...
Max (as Robert Barratt)
Berton Churchill ...
Mr. Winston
George Gibson
Pa Dennis (as Charles Grapewin)
Robert McWade ...
Dr. Briggs
G. Pat Collins ...
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 morpheme 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 »


Roger Winston: There I was, everybody making a hero of me. I accepted it because I didn't have guts enough to refuse it... It went on, and on - the honors piled up. And every one I got made it more impossible to tell the truth. I couldn't let go. I know that all my promotions and decorations belong to you. I know that I've stolen the credit from a real hero.
See more »


The Girl I Left Behind Me
Played briefly upon the arrival at Winston Manor
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User Reviews

Powerful, painful Depression-era tale
26 April 2009 | by (Saint Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

Found on the same disc as my favorite Wellman film, Wild Boys of the Road. Anyone interested in Depression-era movies should throw that disc up on your Netflix queue immediately! That's got to be one of the all-time great double features (which lasts only just over two hours). Heroes for Sale is an episodic, sometimes sloppily constructed story, but it's very involving. Richard Barthelmess stars, and the plot follows him from a soldier in WWI to the present, in the middle of the Great Depression. He experiences much hardship and betrayal through his life. Some hugely positive experiences, too, but when you have something good in your life, there's always the possibility of losing it. This is one of the most cynical, heartbreaking movies of all time. It certainly wouldn't be the film you saw to forget about the horror of modern life. The Fred and Ginger movie's playing down the hall. The film has been frequently accused of having socialist or communist leanings. This is partly true. It's certainly not very trustful of capitalism. But it's just as distrustful of communism. One of its main characters, played by Robert Barrat, begins the film as a communist in a flophouse. He later becomes successful and ends up screwing over his friends and scorning the poor. The film also stars Loretta Young, Aline MacMahon, Charlie Grapewin and Gordon Westcott, and all are very strong. A gut-wrencher which, like Wild Boys of the Road, ends with a faint glimmer of hope. Very faint, with the Depression going strong.

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