Cinema 1933: You Must Remember This…..Events, Trends, Movies, Stars

Research in Progress (May 16, 2021)

Cineliteracy: What You Need to Know about 1933 as a Movie Year


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Events to Remember:

Two important guilds are created: Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Screen Writers Guild (WGA)

Movie attendance drops to 50 million a week.

The Depression hits rock bottom: Paramount files for bankruptcy.  Fox teeters on the edge.  RKO and Universal are in receivership.

January 11:

Radio City Music Hall in New York City starts showing films.

March 2:

King Kong premieres at Radio City Music Hall, pushing the epic adventure to another level, literally, by setting the climactic scene on the newly constructed Empire State Building.

March 11:

42nd Street sparks a comeback for musical film.

April 7

Zéro de conduite (Zero for Conduit) is released in France

June 6:

The drive-in theater is patented in (of all places) Camden, New Jersey.

September 6:

Daily Variety, a trade newspaper, is published for the first time in Hollywood.

October 10:

John Wayne appears as Singin’ Sandy Saunders in Riders of Destiny, but it’s not a success.

December 29: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appear on screen together for the first time in Flying Down to Rio.

British Film Institute founded

GPO Film Unit established in the UK under John Grierson, taking over documentary filmmaking from the Empire Marketing Board.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) once again expresses interest in The Wizard of Oz books for a series of animated shorts, but again fails to make deal with creator L. Frank Baum’s estate.

Ecstasy, a Czechoslovak film, shocks audiences when actress Hedy Lamarr is seen naked.

The Private Life of Henry VIII becomes the first British film to win an Oscar Award. It is also the first British production to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.

Upton Sinclair’s book about William Fox is published; Fox considers it to be the conspiracy that forced him from control of Fox Film in 1930.

Other Events:

Motion picture industry goes under National Recovery Administration code.

Receivers are appointed for Paramount Publix, RKO and Fox Theatres.

Film industry takes eight week salary cut.

Sirovich bill for sweeping probe of film industry is defeated.

John D. Hertz withdraws as Paramount Publix finance chair and Adolph Zukor appoints George J. Schaefer as general manager.

Sidney Kent effects financial reorganization of Fox Film Corp., averting receivership, and company shows first profit since 1930.

Ruling of the US District Court for the District of Delaware creates “open market” for sound equipment.

Nathan Nathanson regains control of Famous Players Canadian circuit.

Darryl F. Zanuck quits Warner-First National and with Joseph M. Schenck forms Twentieth Century Pictures, turning out eight productions in the first four months.
Harold B. Franklin resigns as president of RKO Theaters.

A major earthquake, originating in Long Beach, kills 123 people and injures 4,150.

Top-Grossing Films

1. Roman Scandals, United Artists/Samuel Goldwyn Productions $2,443,000

2. I’m No Angel, Paramount Pictures, $2,250,000

3. Gold Diggers of 1933, Warner Bros. $2,202,000

4. She Done Him Wrong, Paramount Pictures $2,200,000

5. Tugboat Annie Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $1,917,000

6. Footlight Parade, Warner Bros. $1,601,000

7. Dancing Lady, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $1,490,000

8. 42nd Street, Warner, $1,438,000

9. Dinner at Eight, MGM, $1,398,000

10. Little Women, RKO Radio Pictures $1,337,000


Three of the top-grossing films were musicals, all made at Warner’s.

George Cukor directed two of the most popular pictures: Dinner at Eight and Little Women.

This was the best year in Mae West’s career, scoring big in two of the year’s most watchable films.

Most Popular Movie Stars (rank ordered)

Marie Dressler

Will Rogers

Janet Gaynor

Eddie Cantor

Wallace Beery

Jean Harlow

Clark Gable

Mae West

Norma Shearer

Joan Crawford


Oscar Winners in All Categories

Picture: Cavalcade (Fox, produced by Winfield Sheehan)


Oscar: Cavalcade (1933)–Noel Coward’s Oscar-Winning Melodrama

Director: Frank Lloyd, Cavalcade

Actor: Charles Laughton, The Private Life of Henry VIII

Actress: Katharine Hepburn, Morning Glory

Writing Adapted: Little Women, Victor Heerman and Sarah Y. Mason

Original Story: One Way Passage, Robert Lord

Cinematography: A Farewell to Arms, Charles Lang

Interior Decoration: Cavalcade, William S. Darling

Assistant Direction: Charles Barton, Paramount

Sound Recording: A Farewell to Arms, Harold C. Lewis

Short Subjects Cartoons: The Three Little Pigs (Disney)

Short Subjects Comedy: So This Is Harris (RKO Radio)

Short Subjects Novelty: The Sea (Educational, Battle for Life)

Nominees in All Categories

Best Picture:

Cavalcade (Fox)
A Farewell to Arms (Paramount)
42ND Street (Warner)
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (Warner)
Lady for a Day (Columbia)
Little Women (RKO)
Private Life of Henry VIII, The (UA)
She Done Him Wrong (Paramount)
Smilin’ Thru’ (MGM)
State Fair (Fox)

Best Actor

Charles Laughton, The Private Life of Henry VIII
Leslie Howard, Berkeley Square
Paul Muni, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

Best Actress

Katharine Hepburn, Morning Glory
May Robson, Lady for a Day
Diana Wynyard, Cavalcade

Significant Foreign Films

Zero for Conduct (Vigo, made in 1932; released in 1933)