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Nostalgia Cafe
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1930s Movies & Theater


Film Sites
The Great MGM Musicals
The Films Of Alfred Hitchcock
Class Act: Those Golden Movie Musicals
Andy Hardy Movies
Warner Brothers In The Pre-Code Era


My YouTube Playlist

1930s Movies
----- Quotes
There's no place like home,
there's no place like home...

--Dorothy's ticket back to Kansas (The Wizard Of Oz)

It's alive! It's alive!
--Colin Clive creates Boris Karloff (Frankenstein)

Frankly, my dear....I don't give a damn.
--Rhett tells Scarlett how it is...but don't worry, Scarlett...tomorrow is another day! (Gone With The Wind)

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know.
--Groucho as Captain Spaulding in Animal Crackers.

You're going out there a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!
--Warner Baxter gives Ruby Keeler a pep talk (42nd Street)


Cool Sites
Mickey & Judy
The Real "Boys Town"


Newsreels, Shorts & Serials

In the 1930s, going to the movies involved much more than just seeing a movie.

During the early years, movies were usually part of a longer variety bill. The Perils Of Pauline and The Keystone Kops shared the stage with live comedians, chorus girls and singers.

By the 1930s, most theaters had dropped the variety acts and replaced them with cartoons, comedy shorts and newsreels. Radio City Music Hall was an exception to this....their movies were still surrounded by lavish stage productions.

Cliffhanger serials were very popular in the 1930s. For kids, going to the theater each Saturday to see the latest installment of Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers was a weekly tradition. Add some popcorn and a few cartoons, and the day was complete!

Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller was the most famous Tarzan. His distinctive Tarzan yodel was actually an electronic combination of many different sounds.

Buck Rogers

The Serials: An Introduction
Serial Squadron
Musical & Educational Shorts
Sound Shorts 1926-1934

----- newsreels
The March Of Time
Fox Movietone News
Universal News

Betty Boop
Mickey Mouse
Goofy (1932)
Donald Duck (1934)
Elmer Fudd & Porky Pig
The Three Little Pigs (1933)
Silly Symphonies

Our Gang--Little Rascals
Laurel & Hardy
Every Sunday
The Three Stooges
Baby Burlesks
W.C. Fields

Flash Gordon
The Phantom Creeps
Dick Tracy
Buck Rogers


Before the 1920s, moviemakers tried many different ways to add color to their films.

Their efforts fell into two categories:
1) hand-tinting, color washes and toning, which added color after the film was developed.
2) true color photography using the two-strip method.

The first experiments with true color photography were conducted around 1900. During the 1900s and 1910s, a variety of primitive two-strip methods were developed that did a fairly good job of reproducing natural color.

The Technicolor Corporation was founded in 1915. They introduced their first two-strip color system in 1917, which was followed by two improved versions in 1923 and 1928. Although this system didn't record the full range of colors, and had an especially difficult time registering blue tints, it was the best color system available at the time.

The Prizmacolor, Natural Color and Multicolor systems were also used in the 1920s.

In 1932, three-strip Technicolor was invented. This new version faithfully reproduced the entire color spectrum, but it was expensive and not without its problems. Between 1932 and 1935, the process was limited to cartoons, shorts and color sequences in black & white films.

Becky Sharp (1935) was the first feature-length film to use the new three-strip Technicolor process from beginning to end. The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine (1936) was the first outdoor Technicolor film.

----- Hays Production Code
In the late 1920s, movie audiences were getting tired of hearing about the decadent lifestyles of the Hollywood elite. High-profile cases like the Fatty Arbuckle scandal and the murder of director William Desmond Taylor didn't help matters, either.

The public was also getting tired of wild movies featuring flappers, smoking, drinking and gangsters.

In 1930, the movie industry decided to regulate itself. Will Hays was hired as the industry "chaperone" and a moral code was instituted. This code was completely voluntary and, as expected, very few studios followed it.

In 1934, Joseph Breen took over the administration of the code, and compliance became mandatory.

Some of the rules included....

1) no swearing
2) no vulgar terms
3) no revealing undergarments
4) don't show the intimacies of married life
5) don't use questionable words (pregnant, hot, tomcat, virgin)
6) the good guys must win in the end
7) no screen kiss can last longer than seven feet of film
8) no nudity, either in fact or silhouette
9) no interracial relationships or marriages
10) no scenes showing slavery
11) no scenes showing homosexuality or adultery
12) no scenes showing childbirth
13) films must foster positive attitudes towards marriage, family, home, government and religion

For the most part, these rules remained in effect for the next 35 years, until the movie rating system (G, PG, R, X) replaced them in the late 1960s.

The Development Of Color Films
1930 Motion Picture Production Code
Color Films 1917-1935


1930s Movies

All Quiet On The Western Front
Animal Crackers
The Blue Angel
Anna Christie
The Big Trail
They Learned About Women
Good News

City Lights
Monkey Business
The Public Enemy
Little Caesar
The Front Page

Horse Feathers
The Mummy
Grand Hotel
I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang
Tarzan The Ape Man
Red Dust
A Farewell To Arms
No Man Of Her Own

Duck Soup
King Kong
42nd Street
Dinner At Eight
Little Women
Gold Diggers Of 1933
Flying Down To Rio
Footlight Parade
Dancing Lady
Roman Scandals
Hallelujah, I'm A Bum

Frankly, my dear....

It Happened One Night
The Thin Man
The Man Who Knew Too Much
The Gay Divorcee
Babes In Toyland
Of Human Bondage
Manhattan Melodrama
Bright Eyes
Little Miss Marker
Stand Up And Cheer!

The 39 Steps
A Night At The Opera
Bride Of Frankenstein
Mutiny On The Bounty
Top Hat
Captain Blood
China Seas
Curly Top
Broadway Melody Of 1936
The Littlest Rebel

"A pretty girl is like a melody...."
--the fabulous revolving set from The Great Ziegfeld

Modern Times
My Man Godfrey
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town
The Petrified Forest
Swing Time
The Great Ziegfeld
Anthony Adverse
Rose Marie
Flash Gordon
Captain January
Three Smart Girls

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
A Day At The Races
Lost Horizon
Captains Courageous
Stage Door
Young & Innocent
A Star Is Born
The Good Earth
Charlie Chan At The Opera
Quality Street

Bringing Up Baby
The Adventures Of Robin Hood
The Lady Vanishes
You Can't Take It With You
Angels With Dirty Faces
Boys Town
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer
The Divorce Of Lady X
Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm
Love Finds Andy Hardy
The Shopworn Angel

The Wizard Of Oz
Gone With The Wind
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
Wuthering Heights
Gunga Din
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
Goodbye Mr. Chips
Dark Victory
The Little Princess
Babes In Arms
Idiot's Delight
Of Mice & Men


On Stage

popular stage productions

musicals & revues
I'd Rather Be Right
42nd Street
Porgy & Bess
Strike Up The Band
Girl Crazy
Of Thee I Sing
Anything Goes
Red, Hot & Blue
Leave It To Me
As Thousands Cheer
Lew Leslie's "Blackbirds Of 1932"
Life Begins At 8:40
Flying High
The Boys From Syracuse
The Band Wagon
George White's Music Hall Varieties

drama & comedy
Design For Living
Our Town
Golden Boy


stage tidbits
* The Boys From Syracuse was based on Shakespeare's A Comedy Of Errors. It was the first Broadway play to be adapted from Shakespeare.

*Hellzapoppin' ran for 1,404 performances, making it the longest-running Broadway play until Oklahoma! came along in 1943.

*In 1938, Mary Martin made her Broadway debut in Leave It To Me. Her memorable performace included the Cole Porter song "My Heart Belongs To Daddy."

*The late 1920s were blockbuster years for Broadway shows. In the 1930s, both the Depression and the novelty of talking pictures caused theater attendance to dwindle.

*After 24 years on the Broadway stage, the last Ziegfeld Follies was produced in 1931. Florenz Ziegfeld died in 1932. Although two short-lived revivals were produced in 1934 and 1936, it was truly the end of an era.

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