Heroes for Sale

Greeted at first release as an opportunistic failure, Heroes for Sale has become an essential Depression document, despite some wild plot contrivances. Robbed of his hero's honors, a World War I veteran returns to America a morphine addict, the result of medication in a German prison hospital for his shrapnel wounds. Within this framework, William Wellman's film examines issues generally avoided in Hollywood: unemployment, urban alienation, unionism, and mob violence. Imprisoned as a labor agitator and later hounded by Red Squad vigilantes, our hero remains undauntable: “It takes more than a sock in the jaw to lick 120 million people.” In its sympathies, the film exemplifies Warner Brothers' best social conscience tradition and comes down squarely on the side of the Bonus Army's Washington demonstrations of the previous summer.
—Scott Simmon, Mary Pickford Theater, Library of Congress

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