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Down and Out in America (1986)

Unrated | | Documentary
A recession in the mid-1980s affects Minnesota farm workers, unemployed urban workers and the newly homeless in Los Angeles and New York.

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jeff Farmer ...
Himself - AFL-CIO, MN
Bob Hanson ...
Himself - Farmer, MN
Robert Hayes ...
Himself - National Director, Coalition for the Homeless
Ted Hayes ...
Himself
Ann Kanten ...
Herself - Asst. Commissioner of Agriculture, MN
Bob Killeen ...
Himself - UAW, MN
Jim Langman ...
Himself
Nancy Minte ...
Herself - Attorney, Inner City Law Center, LA
Tom Styron ...
Himself - Volunteer, Coalition for the Homeless
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Storyline

Three sectors of American society hit by recession in the mid-1980s: heartland farms, factory workers out of a job, and the new homeless. In Minnesota, 250 family farms are being repossesed each week; men and women talk about their farms, the nature of their bank loans, the onslaught of corporate farming, and their sorrow and despair. In cities where 3,500 jobs per day go overseas, unemployed workers contemplate their options. The newly homeless talk about the jobs they've lost, "Justice Ville" in Los Angeles (bulldozed by court order), and squatting in New York's abandoned buildings. A family living in a welfare hotel tells their story. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Documentary

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Unrated
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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Produced by HBO, this was the first cable program to win an Academy Award. See more »

Connections

Featured in Wisdom (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Liberal views with some truth to them...
6 June 2000 | by (Cleveland, OH) – See all my reviews

Lee Grant directs and narrates this dismaying look at the results of Reaganomics upon America's working class. She looks at the plight of the farmers who face foreclosure on their lands, people living in a 1980s' version of a "Hooverville" and are being forced to move, and at a family who has been burned out of their home and has nowhere to turn except for an overcrowded welfare house. The stories are moving and prove that bad things can happen to good people, but the film grows a bit tiresome by its conclusion. Grant does an obviously careful job of choosing well-spoken subjects in order to help strengthen her slant on the issues at hand. The result is the feeling of being a bit manipulated by the filmmaker, but of course, almost every documentary filmmaker is going to have a passion for his or her subject matter and have his or her opinions on it, otherwise the filmmaker would not bother to make the film in the first place. "Down and Out In America" is an interesting film in terms of its subject matter, but it offers nothing ground-breaking in regards to its contribution to the genre of the documentary.


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