In the Limelight

The transition from silent to sound films was so extremely quick that many films released in 1928 and 1929 had begun production as silents, with sound added rapidly to meet the growing demand. Theater owners rushed to convert their facilities to accommodate sound ending with good results. The 1930s film scene exploded with sound, new artistic talents, and life!

Even though thousands of people struggled to find a job, they flocked to the cinemas to watch movie stars Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, little Shirley Temple, and graceful dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Many of these films were fantastical and adventurous films to keep people’s minds away from the Great Depression.

The public developed a nearly insatiable craving for such animated figures as Betty Boop, Popeye, and Krazy Kat, along with a new Disney character, Donald Duck, as well as Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, and other well known members of the Warner Brothers cartoon squad.

Three classic movies automatically spring to mind when thinking of films that came out of the 1930s. Gone with the Wind, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and The Wizard of Oz. All considered film gold and all seemingly ahead of their time.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, released in 1937, was the first full length animated feature film. It was also the first film to release a motion picture soundtrack album. The Wizard of Oz actually lost money because of its enormous budget but received many favorable reviews. For Gone with the Wind’s premiere in Atlanta in December 15, 1939, the governor declared it a state holiday. Ticket prices for the premiere were 40 times the usual going rate.

The Academy Awards were created in 1929 to honor the best movie and moviemakers of the years ’27 and ’28. Stars arose and stayed on top for thirty years. All the major studios had their stars which they publicized and marketed across America. It is no wonder that Bogart, Hepburn, Cooper, Davis, Grant, Cagney and Gable are still marketable today. But then again, they also made great movies.