Thursday, 5 July 2018

Reeling in the years cinema style. 1933

The year of Kong. The year a Czech actress scandalised cinema. The year one the the funniest films of all time was released. Some all time greats were born. The architect of one of Hollywood's worst scandals died. America was in the grip of The Great Depression and audiences flocked to the movies as a way of escaping reality. Cinema was huge business in 1933 and they even created a new way to watch it.

The biggest film of the year was of course King Kong. It had a seismic impact on the industry and it's still amazing 85 years later. It's still being remade too with the latest version coming out last year. None of them hold a candle to the original though. The movie that made Fay Wray famous and introduced the then 2 year old Empire State Building to the wider world.

Duck Soup starring The Marx Brothers was released. A film that crazily was considered a disappointment but is now rightly seen as an all time great. It's skewered take on politics was controversial at the time and got the film banned in Italy by none other than Benito Mussolini.

Drive In Cinemas were invented. The first one opens in New Jersey and it takes a while but soon enough they became a national obsession. Half of America's future population is conceived at the movies.

Cavalcade wins best picture and best director (Frank Lloyd) at the Oscars continuing the Academy's love of big ensemble dramas.

Katherine Hepburn won her first Academy award for Morning Glory but not her last. She's still the only actor to win 4 Oscars.  1933, 1968, 1969 and 1982. A record that might never be beaten now that Daniel Day Lewis has retired.

Best actor is won by Charles Laughton for his portrayal of the King in The Private Life Of Henry The 8th. The first non American film to win an award. This is a film well worth digging out to watch.

Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle dies. The man to blame for one of the biggest scandals in Hollywood history. After 3 trials in 1921 and 1922 he was acquitted of the rape and manslaughter of an actress called Virginia Rappe. Like certain other modern day sex scandals the victim had her reputation ruined and Roscoe walked away free. Thankfully his career went off the rails soon afterwards.

Hedy (not Headley) Lamarr brings nudity to mainstream cinema screen in the Czechoslovakian film Ecstasy. Not only did her breasts traumatise audiences but they were also treated to non pornographic cinema's first ever sex scene and female orgasm. Shocking! Suffice to say it did not turn up on America screens. In 1940 it finally made it across the ocean in a version so truncated it made little sense.

The Hollywood version of Ireland hits screens with of Peg O'My Heart getting a release.  There was an earlier film in 1922 but this was the first sound version. A quaint little film but a hard watch due to star Marion Davies unique take on an Irish accent. Things aren't much better 83 years later.

Some big names were born this year too including director John Boorman and actors Michael Caine, Jayne Mansfield, Gene Wilder, Jean Paul Belmondo and Joan Collins. Caine is still working away and putting in excellent performances while Collins is happy to rip the piss out of her diva image in TV ads. Both 85 years young with no intention of fading away.

A handful of very big names made their film debuts this year too and 5 pretty huge careers were born, some lasting over 5 decades.

From left to right

Orson Welles - Twelfth Night
Lucille Ball - The Bowery
Errol Flynn - In The Wake Of The Bounty
Dame Peggy Ashcroft - The Wandering Jew
Fred Astaire -  Dancing Lady

Finally a film from 1933 to watch.

Tarzan The Fearless. A genuinely impressive and entertaining movie. As always, the legality of watching movies on youtube is murky so it's up to you if you want to click play or not. I'm just providing the link and turning my back....

Previous years 


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