The 1920s (pronounced "nineteen-twenties," often shortened to the "20s") was a decade that began on January 1, 1920, and ended on December 31, 1929. In America, it is frequently referred to as the "Roaring Twenties" or the "Jazz Age", while in Europe the period is sometimes referred to as the "Golden Twenties" because of the economic boom following World War I (1914-1918). French speakers refer to the period as the "Années folles" ("Crazy Years"), emphasizing the era's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism.
The 1920s saw foreign oil companies begin operations in Venezuela, which became the world's second-largest oil-producing nation. The devastating Wall Street Crash in October 1929 is generally viewed as a harbinger of the end of 1920s prosperity in North America and Europe. In the Soviet Union the New Economic Policy was created by the Bolsheviks in 1921, to be replaced by the first five-year plan in 1928. The 1920s saw the rise of radical political movements, with the Red Army triumphing against White movement forces in the Russian Civil War, and the emergence of far right political movements in Europe. In 1922, the fascist leader Benito Mussolini seized power in Italy. Economic problems contributed to the emergence of dictators in Eastern Europe to include Józef Piłsudski in Poland, and Peter and Alexander Karađorđević in Yugoslavia. First-wave feminism saw progress, with women gaining the right to vote in the United States (1920), Ireland (1921) and with suffrage being expanded in Britain to all women over 21 years old (1928).
In Turkey, nationalist forces defeated Greece, France, Armenia and Britain in the Turkish War of Independence, leading to the Treaty of Lausanne (July 1923), a treaty more favorable to Turkey than the earlier proposed Treaty of Sèvres. The war also led to the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate. Nationalist revolts also occurred in Ireland (1919–1921) and Syria (1925–1927). Under Mussolini, Italy pursued a more aggressive foreign policy, leading to the Second Italo-Senussi War in Libya. In 1927, China erupted into a civil war between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led government of the Republic of China (ROC) and forces of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Civil wars also occurred in Paraguay (1922–1923), Ireland (1922–1923), Honduras (1924), Nicaragua (1926–1927), and Afghanistan (1928–1929). Saudi forces conquered Jabal Shammar and subsequently, Hejaz.
A severe famine occurred in Russia in 1921–1922 due to the combined effects of economic disturbance because of the Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War, exacerbated by rail systems that could not distribute food efficiently, leading to 5 million deaths. Another severe famine occurred in China in 1928–1930, leading to 6 million deaths. The Spanish flu (1918–1920) and the 1918–1922 Russia typhus epidemic, which had begun in the previous decade, caused 25–50 million and 2–3 million deaths respectively. Major natural disasters of this decade include the 1920 Haiyuan earthquake (258,707~273,407 deaths), the 1922 Swatow typhoon (50,000–100,000 deaths), the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake (105,385–142,800 deaths), and the 1927 Gulang earthquake (40,912 deaths).
Silent films were popular in this decade, with the 1925 American silent epic adventure-drama film Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ being the highest-grossing film of this decade, grossing $9,386,000 worldwide. Other high-grossing films of this decade include The Big Parade and The Singing Fool. Sinclair Lewis was a popular author in the 1920s, with 2 of his books, Main Street and Elmer Gantry, becoming best-selling books in the United States in 1921 and 1927 respectively. Other best-selling books of this decade include All Quiet on the Western Front and The Private Life of Helen of Troy. Songs of this decade include "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" and "Stardust".
Main article: Roaring Twenties
The Roaring Twenties brought about several novel and highly visible social and cultural trends. These trends, made possible by sustained economic prosperity, were most visible in major cities like New York, Chicago, Paris, Berlin and London. "Normalcy" returned to politics in the wake of hyper-emotional patriotism during World War I, jazz blossomed, and Art Deco peaked. For women, knee-length skirts and dresses became socially acceptable, as did bobbed hair with a finger wave or marcel wave. The women who pioneered these trends were frequently referred to as flappers.
The era saw the large-scale adoption of automobiles, telephones, motion pictures, radio and household electricity, as well as unprecedented industrial growth, accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle and culture. The media began to focus on celebrities, especially sports heroes and movie stars. Large baseball stadiums were built in major U.S. cities, in addition to palatial cinemas.
Most independent countries passed women's suffrage after 1918, especially as a reward for women's support of the war effort and endurance of its deaths and hardships.
Main article: International relations (1919–1939)
Main article: Women's suffrage
Prominent assassinations, targeted killings, and assassination attempts include:
Main article: 1920s in film
|1920||Way Down East||$5,000,000R ($4,000,000)R||$800,000||[# 1][# 2]|
|1921||The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse||$5,000,000R ($4,000,000)R||$600,000–800,000||[# 3]|
|1922||Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood||$2,500,000R||$930,042.78||[# 4][# 5]|
|1923||The Covered Wagon||$5,000,000R||$800,000||[# 6][# 7]|
|1924||The Sea Hawk||$3,000,000R||$700,000||[# 6]|
|1925||The Big Parade||$18,000,000–22,000,000R
|$382,000||[# 8][# 9][# 10]|
|Ben-Hur||$10,738,000R ($9,386,000)R||$3,967,000||[# 11][# 12]|
|1926||For Heaven's Sake||$2,600,000R FH||$150,000||[# 1][# 13]|
|1927||Wings||$3,600,000R||$2,000,000||[# 1][# 14][# 15]|
|1928||The Singing Fool||$5,900,000R||$388,000||[# 15][# 16]|
|1929||The Broadway Melody||$4,400,000–4,800,000R||$379,000||[# 17][# 18]|
|Sunny Side Up||$3,500,000*R SS||$600,000||[# 19][# 20]|
Main article: 1920s in Western fashion
The 1920s is the decade in which fashion entered the modern era. It was the decade in which women first abandoned the more restricting fashions of past years and began to wear more comfortable clothes (such as short skirts or trousers). Men also abandoned highly formal daily attire and even began to wear athletic clothing for the first time. The suits men wear today are still based, for the most part, on those worn in the late 1920s. The 1920s are characterized by two distinct periods of fashion. In the early part of the decade, change was slow, as many were reluctant to adopt new styles. From 1925, the public passionately embraced the styles associated with the Roaring Twenties. These styles continued to characterize fashion until the worldwide depression worsened in 1931.
See also: Radio in 1920s elections
The best-selling books of every year in the United States were as follows:
Main article: 1920s in film
See also: Bauhaus
The negative cost was about $986,000, which did not include Fairbanks' own salary. Once the exploitation and release prints were taken into account, Robin Hood cost about $1,400,000—exceeding both Intolerance ($700,000) and the celebrated "million dollar movie" Foolish Wives. But it earned $2,500,000.
The film had a production cost of $930,042.78—more than the cost of D.W. Griffith's Intolerance and nearly as much as Erich von Stroheim's Foolish Wives (1922).
...earning somewhere between $18 and $22 million, depending on the figures consulted
The top grossing silent film was King Vidor's The Big Parade (US 25), with worldwide rentals of $22 million.
The film brought in $2.6 million in worldwide rentals and made a net profit of $1,196,750. Jolson's follow-up Warner Bros. film, The Singing Fool (1928), brought in over two times as much, with $5.9 in worldwide rentals and a profit of $3,649,000, making them two of the most profitable films in the 1920s.In: Block & Wilson 2010.
The Singing Fool: Negative Cost ($1000s): 388
It earned $4.4 million in worldwide rentals and was the first movie to spawn sequels (there were several until 1940).In: Block & Wilson 2010.
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