Celebrating the History of Motion Pictures from 1890 to 1960

1930 Timelines: 1930 to 1939

The “Depression” causes movie attendance to drop dramatically. Movie theaters lower ticket prices, give away door prizes, offer matinees and midnight screenings, and finally start adding a second, “B”, feature film to their programs in an effort to increase attendance. Some theaters even promote “Mickey Mouse Clubs” as a gimmick to draw children into the theaters on Saturdays to watch cartoons, serials and low–budget movies. Despite these tactics, many theaters go out of business.


In New York, union projectionists accept a 25% pay cut over two years.


Because the camera made by the Mitchell company is much quieter than the Bell and Howell camera used in the making of silent films, the Mitchell camera becomes the camera of choice for making sound films.


The leading American film studios accept, in principle, a new “Code of Production”. The wide ranging provisions of the new Code refer to the way crime, brutality, and sex are portrayed in the movies, and deal with the issues of vulgarity, obscenity, blasphemy and profanity. The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), with Will Hays as its president, will oversee the new Code.


According to the International Trade Organization, capital investment in cinema is at $4 billion. In the U.S. alone, the motion picture industry employees 225,000 workmen, 30,000 extras and several thousand actors.


Paramount stops playing its films in RKO’s theaters.


William Fox, the president of MGM’s parent company, is dismissed by the company’s board of directors and eventually sued by managers of Fox Film and Fox Theaters for manipulating stock.


Darryl F. Zanuck is named the head of production for Warner Bros.–First National.


When Paramount releases Marlene Dietrich’s first American film, “Morocco”, there is a tremendous amount of public excitement. Dietrich is hailed as the newest rival to MGM’s biggest star, Greta Garbo.


Significant Films:

The popularity of, “The Virginian”, starring Gary Cooper, marks the return to popularity of cowboy films.

D.W. Griffith releases his first talking film, “Abraham Lincoln”.

The German production company, UFa, releases its first talking picture, “The Blue Angel”. Directed by Josef von Sternberg, it stars the 28–year–old newcomer, Marlene Dietrich. Dietrich is immediately signed by Paramount to do one picture.

Greta Garbo’s first talking picture, “Anna Christie”, is released.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” , is released. Based on Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, it is considered one of greatest films to be based on the events of World War I, and it wins the Academy Awards for “Outstanding Production” and “Best Director”.

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