Down 29,565 this week

...One Third of a Nation... (1939)

 -  Drama  -  10 February 1939 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.3/10 from 59 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 3 critic

A fire in a run-down tenement building injures young Joey Rogers. Wealthy passerby Peter Cortlant rushes the boy and his attractive older sister Mary to the hospital and pays the medical ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (play), 1 more credit »
0Check in

Editors' Spotlight

IMDb Picks: August

IMDb's editors share the movies and TV shows they recommend for August 2014.

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 1195 titles
created 23 Jul 2012
a list of 6252 titles
created 9 months ago
a list of 429 titles
created 4 months ago
a list of 6929 titles
created 1 month ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: ...One Third of a Nation... (1939)

...One Third of a Nation... (1939) on IMDb 6.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of ...One Third of a Nation....


1 video »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A parole violator in early 19th Century France is relentlessly pursued and persecuted by an obsessive policeman.

Director: Lewis Milestone
Stars: Michael Rennie, Robert Newton, Debra Paget
Mr. Ace (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A rich society woman uses a gangster to win a congressional election.

Director: Edwin L. Marin
Stars: George Raft, Sylvia Sidney, Stanley Ridges
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A newly married woman begins to suspect that her husband is a killer. Even worse, she soon comes to believe that she will be his next victim.

Director: Richard Whorf
Stars: John Hodiak, Sylvia Sidney, Ann Richards
You and Me (1938)
Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An altruistic department-store owner hires ex-convicts in order to give them a second chance at life. Unfortunately, one of the convicts he hires recruits two of his fellow ex-convicts in a plan to rob the store.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Sylvia Sidney, George Raft, Robert Cummings
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A feud, the origins of which can barely be remembered, has been boiling for decades between two sheltered mountain families, the Tollivers and the Falins. With plans to build a railroad ... See full summary »

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Sylvia Sidney, Fred MacMurray, Henry Fonda
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A dedicated American reporter in 1930's Japan, is determined to expose that government's plan for world domination.

Director: Frank Lloyd
Stars: James Cagney, Sylvia Sidney, Porter Hall
City Streets (1931)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Nan, a racketeer's daughter, is in love with The Kid, a shooting gallery showman. Despite Nan's prodding, The Kid has no ambitions about joining the rackets and making enough money to ... See full summary »

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Gary Cooper, Sylvia Sidney, Paul Lukas
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The public defender's secretary and an ex-convict get married and try to make a life together, but a series of disasters sends their lives spiraling out of control.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Sylvia Sidney, Henry Fonda, Barton MacLane
Q & A (1990)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A young district attorney seeking to prove a case against a corrupt police detective encounters a former lover and her new protector, a crime boss who refuse to help him in this gritty ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Nick Nolte, Timothy Hutton, Armand Assante
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Three men case a small town very carefully, with plans to rob the bank on the upcoming Saturday, which turns violent and deadly.

Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Victor Mature, Richard Egan, Stephen McNally
The Hill (1965)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In a North African military prison during World War II, five new prisoners struggle to survive in the face of brutal punishment and sadistic guards.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Sean Connery, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen
The Verdict (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A lawyer sees the chance to salvage his career and self-respect by taking a medical malpractice case to trial rather than settling.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden


Cast overview, first billed only:
Mary Rogers (as Sylvia Sydney)
Peter Cortlant (as Leif Erikson)
Myron McCormick ...
Hiram Sherman ...
Muriel Hutchison ...
Percy Waram ...
Arthur Mather
Assistant District Attorney (as Otto Hulitt)
Horace Sinclair ...
John - Butler
Iris Adrian ...
Charles Dingle ...
Mr. Rogers
Edmonia Nolley ...
Mrs. Rogers
Hugh Cameron ...
Mr. Cassidy
Julia Fassett ...
Mrs. Cassidy
Baruch Lumet ...
Mr. Rosen


A fire in a run-down tenement building injures young Joey Rogers. Wealthy passerby Peter Cortlant rushes the boy and his attractive older sister Mary to the hospital and pays the medical expenses for the poverty-stricken family. Only later does Peter learn that the firetrap tenement is one of his own vast real estate holdings. Faced with his own unwitting complicity in the deaths and injuries resultant from the fire and with his growing attachment to Mary, Peter decides to tear down his tenements and erect decent affordable housing. But his family is aghast at his plan and plots to wreck it. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

10 February 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

...Um Terço de uma Nação...  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Completed in 1938 and the film bears a 1938 copyright statement, but it was not actually copyrighted or released until 1939. See more »


Referenced in Just Tell Me What You Want (1980) See more »


That's How Dreams Should End
words and music by Harold Orlob
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Slumlord Millionaire
20 November 2011 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

ONE-THIRD OF A NATION (Paramount, 1939), directed by Dudley Murphy, with a title taken from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's second inaugural speech, is basically one of many Depression-era stories from that period. Taken out of context from the Federal Theatre play by Arthur Aren't, there's no doubt it was naturally inspired by Sidney Kingsley's 1935 stage play, "Dead End." Sylvia Sidney, who assumed the role of a hard working shop-girl in the 1937 screen adaptation of DEAD END, assumes similar chores this time around yet minus the initial support of both mobster and tough teenage hoodlum angles taking major part of the plot.

With the story set during the summer months in New York City's lower east side, the introduction starts off with slum kids cooling themselves by taking a dip into the East River or going through the water pressure splashing over them from a fire hydrant. Things get even hotter when a lighted cigarette left burning on clothing in the basement causes one of the tenement buildings to go ablaze. Passing through by car driven by his chauffeur is millionaire Peter Courtlandt (Leif Erickson) accompanied by his friend, Don Hinchley (Hiram Sherman), who both stop to witness a disaster. With tenants rushing into the street and firemen making every effort to keep the building from burning to the ground, youngster Joey Martin (Sidney Lumet) saves himself by exiting onto a fire escape that soon falls apart, plunging three stories below. As his older sister, Mary (Sylvia Sidney) pushes through the crowd to be by his side, Peter offers his assistance rushing both injured boy and Mary to the hospital in his car. Because her father is on relief and unable to pay for any hospital bills, Peter, against Mary's wishes for not wanting to accept charity, offers to help with the expenses. Later, while at his estate, Peter discovers from Arthur Mather (Percy Waram), his business manager, that he's just inherited ownership of that neglected tenement building that's been in the family for generations. With numerous attempts to tear down these "rat traps" with cockroaches by replacing them with more modern ones, his involvement with Mary proves to be one setback while the intrusion of his snobbish sister, Ethel (Muriel Hutchinson) for reasons of her own, becomes another.

Produced at the Astoria Studios in Queens, N.Y., ONE-THIRD OF A NATION offers viewers and film buffs alike the opportunity to watch several actors from the New York stage making rare screen appearances, notably Myron McCormick as Sam Moon, the man who hates millionaires but loves Mary; Charles Dingle and Edmonia Nolley (Mr. and Mrs. Rogers); Otto Hulitt (Assistant District Attorney); and Horace Sinclair (John, the Butler). The only familiar face aside from the leading players is Iris Adrian, playing a tough talking, prostitute-type character named Myrtle. With Sylvia Sidney heading the cast, the story naturally belongs to Paramount contract player, Leif Erickson, courtesy of the Group Theater. While each give commendable character study performances, the one who gathers the most attention is young Sidney Lumet, decades before becoming one of Hollywood's finest directors. Looking more like 12 than his then true age of 14, Lumet gives the most believable and natural performance of them all. As the crippled boy with leg in brace using a crutch as his main support, he's seen in cap, checker-vested shirt and baggy trousers throughout. One scene where he wants to play with the guys, but unable to do so because of his circumstance, is truly heart felt. A pity he never got to perform in further screen assignments because he's a natural, especially the way he converses with his sister (Sidney). The underscoring and nice singing to the tune, "That's How Dreams Should End" is one that places the film above its level.

With the exception of late night viewing on some public television station in the 1990s, ONE-THIRD OF A NATION is one that's been out of the television markets for quite some time. Although I initially viewed ONE-THIRD OF A NATION at a screening in New York City's Museum of Modern Art in 1979, I've forgotten much of it over the years, with the exception of harrowing scenes where Joey talks spitefully to the building he lives in and hates, only to have (on three separate occasions) the building talking back to him with that demon sounding voice with hideous laugh. Another thing I recall is the Paramount logo that introduces and closes the film, something currently missing in circulating prints. In its place is Excelsior Pictures as its distributor with new opening and closing titles. With this presentation used in circulating prints either on home video or DVD, it also the one used for its broadcast on Turner Classic Movies where it premiered September 29, 2011.

ONE-THIRD OF A NATION could be labeled as one handicapped by corny plot, and probably so. In fact, it's better than it sounds, especially with its timely theme relevant now than it was back then, at least one-third of it anyway. (***)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
One Third of a Nation sally-208
Discuss ...One Third of a Nation... (1939) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: