Jan 11st The 1930s Movies


The 1930s:The Golden Years of the Hollywood Studio System

Background: The Great Depression

The 1930s were the years of the Great Depression

Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, 1936


At that time, a few big studios had created an oligarchy and specialized in specific genres, stars and director.

Paramount: “European” style productions. produced the bizarre film like Duck Soup.


Loew’s/MGM: Big production with directors like George Cukor and with big star like Katherine Hepburn.


Warner Bros: Concentrated on creating popular genre and then mining them: They Busky Berkleley musical, The gangster film, the problem film based on current headlines, the “biopic”.



Universal: New stars in visually striking horror films


Also at that time, the rising of the Nazism. So a lot of people from Europe massively immigrated to United States, which leads a “Brain Strain” situation in Europe.


Cinematography Style in 1930s

  • “Soft” images with an extensive range of grays to create glamorous images.
  • “Deep focus” created using optical printing or by placing certain elements very close from the lens and others in the background at a considerable distance

Technical Innovations

  • Sound Recording: Light weight booms
  • Camera movements: cranes
  • technicolor
  • special effects

Overall, the new techniques improved a lot, but narrative action and character psychology still remained central, and continuity rules still promoted spatial orientation. Sound, color, deep focus and other techniques enchanted the style.

Orson Welles was the most influential director to emerge in the 1930s. Citizen Kane

Some new genres arsed and new variats are introduced in the old ones.

  • The Musical
  • The Screwball Comedy
  • The Horror Film
  • The Social Problem Film
  • The Gangster Film
  • Film Noir
  • The War Film



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