Inspired by the studies of Robert and Helen Lynd in 1929 and 1935, this classic six-part series by Academy Award and Emmy winner Peter Davis (HEARTS AND MINDS) explores both the continuity and the change embodied in the people and institutions of one Midwestern community: Muncie, Indiana. In intimate detail, the six films that comprise MIDDLETOWN demonstrate how the society and culture of Muncie, perhaps of the entire American social fabric, have changed less than one might think in the six decades since the Lynds' studies.

Titles in the series:

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The Campaign

Directed by Tom Cohen - A mayoral race in middle America.

Focusing on a mayoral race in Muncie, Indiana, THE CAMPAIGN follows closely the personalities, strategies, and pressures of an American political contest. In particular, it examines the sharply contrasting styles and backgrounds of the Democratic and Republican candidates.

"The achievement of THE CAMPAIGN is that these vignettes are both believably specific and broadly symbolic. It's a classic slice of Americana."—Atlanta Constitution

"This is politics as real life. Proof of the film-ready narrative structure of a campaign: life or death drama, where one candidate will win, one will fail; without presidential candidates or national celebrities, just everyday characters reaching out for the votes of their neighbors, the people they knew--and who knew them. Unforgettable."—Paul Stekler, International Documentary

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The Big Game

Directed by E. J. Vaughn - The role of competitive sports, in this case basketball, in the community, for the coaches, and, most of all, for the players themselves.

As Muncie Central and Anderson High prepare to meet for the annual basketball game, a game charged with the spirit of long-established rivalry, THE BIG GAME examines what this competition, and the sport itself, means to the community, the coaches, and most of all to the players themselves.

"The best scene is not when Morgan goes one on one with Rowray. It's when Morgan goes one-on-one with his guidance counselor. If this powerful segment of MIDDLETOWN changes the life of one such high school basketball player, we should all stand up and cheer."—Buffalo Evening News

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Community of Praise

Directed by Richard Leacock and Marisa Silver - Examines faith working in the lives of a fundamentalist family.

COMMUNITY OF PRAISE examines faith at work in the lives of a family. Their fundamentalist beliefs shape their encounters with the emergencies and the ordinary problems of daily life.



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Family Business

Directed by Tom Cohen - A prototypical American entrepreneur struggles to make his pizza business go.

Howie Snyder is an archetype: a retired Marine colonel in his mid 40s, he is a prototypical American entrepreneur struggling to make his business go.

Howie's Shakey's Pizza franchise in Muncie, Indiana employs his whole family: wife, nine children, and Howie himself. He's the representative of the American Dream: the chance to invest long hours and hard work in exchange for financial security for oneself and family. To watch Howie Snyder as he dickers for better treatment by the Shakey's chain, as he seeks additional financing to stave off looming bankruptcy, and as he sits morosely counting an evening's disappointing receipts is to watch America at work. And to see Howie's family rally around him in the hour of his greatest need is a heartwarming experience.

FAMILY BUSINESS will appeal to business groups as well as small business owners. Franchising organizations will find it valuable as a case study. Schools will find it appealing as a study of a family in challenge. And everyone will find the drama of daily life compelling.

"Marvelous... as close to a genuine slice of life as televisioncan muster."—Los Angeles Times

"Remarkably intimate... There are scenes that will stick with you for life."—Chicago Tribune

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Second Time Around 

Directed by Peter Davis and John Lindley - The complexities of contemporary American marriage.

Focusing on the wedding arrangements of David and Elaine, each of whom is a divorcee, SECOND TIME AROUND presents the complexities of contemporary marriage in the United States.



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Directed by Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines - High school seniors hurtling toward maturity experience joy, despair, and an aggravated sense of urgency.

In their final year at Muncie's Southside High School, a group of seniors hurtles toward maturity with a combination of joy, despair, and an aggravated sense of urgency. They are also learning a great deal about life, both in and out of school, and not what school officials think they are teaching.

"One of the best and most scarifying reports on American life to be seen... it has the characters and language - as well as the vitality and honesty... haunts the memory."—New York Times

"Truly scandalous."—J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

"[SEVENTEEN has] a rare and gripping sense of gritty honesty."—Judy Stone, San Francisco Chronicle

"SEVENTEEN is more frightening than 'The Day After'"—The Atlanta Constitution

Winner Grand Jury Prize Documentary, 1985 Sundance Film Festival

"MIDDLETOWN is a masterpiece, one of the most important films ever made of the American experience."—Boston Globe

★★★½ "A landmark documentary series, this is highly recommended."—Video Librarian

Ways to Watch


Home use DVD for $44.98

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A group of high school seniors hurtles toward maturity with a combination of joy, despair, and an aggravated sense of urgency.

Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines | 1982 | 120 minutes | Color