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Directed by William A. Wellman

United States 1933 76 mins. In English

Wellman’s pessimistic 1933 film presents the story of Tom Holmes (Richard Barthelmess), a soldier whose heroism on the battlefield is credited to a well-to-do friend. Returning from war, Tom becomes addicted to morphine, kicks it, and goes through a series of successes followed by quick setbacks. Cynical nearly to a fault, Heroes for Sale is perhaps one of the most indicting films of the Great Depression, skewering the failure of both nationalist and socialist ideology when pitted against the suffering of the masses waiting in breadlines for their next meal (the film’s most famous line of dialogue is “it’s the end of America.”). “The New Deal finale in the rain cannot wash away the downpour that floods what is not a Warner Brothers ‘Americanism story’ but an anti-Americanism story.”—Thomas Doherty, Pre-Code Hollywood.

35mm print preserved by the Library of Congress.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.