Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1932

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
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1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939

The Year 1932
Year
Event and Significance
1932
Disney's short talking film Flowers and Trees (1932) was the first in the Silly Symphony series. It premiered in July of 1932 at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. It was the first animation short to use 3-strip (or three-color) Technicolor (as was Disney's Three Little Pigs (1933), the first globally-successful story). It also was the first cartoon to win the first Academy Award for Best Short Subject - Cartoon (animation).
1932
The animated Disney character of Goofy (first known as Dippy Dawg) was first introduced in the Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey's Revue (1932).
1932
Howard Hawks' gangster film Scarface (1932) used an X motif throughout. The film was specifically targeted by the Production Code for its violence, sexual innuendo, and for its ending (that was re-edited to demonstrate that good ultimately triumphed over evil). The film was also forced to be re-named Scarface: The Shame of the Nation.
1932
Paramount Pictures, founded in 1912, began to curtail activities in its East Coast studios in Astoria (Long Island, NY) and moved to Hollywood, once the conversion to "talkies" was complete. Astoria had been the center of the East Coast film industry in the 1920s, and many stage actors/actresses (Jeanne Eagels, Ruth Chatterton, Fredric March, John Cromwell, Claudette Colbert, Ginger Rogers, Edward G. Robinson, Jeanette MacDonald, and others) and directors (Rouben Mamoulian, George Cukor) had gotten their start there, and it was the locale of a few early Marx Brothers films.
1932
Director Rouben Mamoulian's pivotal musical Love Me Tonight (1932) shaped the technical language of movie musicals in the sound era, by smoothly integrating the songs into the film's plotline. It also featured the first zoom shot (into a window) and the first asynchronous sound, and also other dazzling special effects such as slow-motion, fast-motion, and split-screens.
1932
Director George Cukor's A Bill of Divorcement (1932) marked the film debut of 24 year-old Katharine Hepburn as Sydney Fairfield (mis-spelled as Sidney and Katherine in the credits).
1932
The film career of 4 year-old child star Shirley Temple (born in 1928), probably the most famous child actress in history, began when she appeared in eight exploitative one-reeler shorts, in a series from Educational Pictures called the 'Baby Burlesks'. In the short take-offs, toddlers played adult roles and wore provocative clothing. Her first film appearance was in the first film of the series titled Runt Page (1932). Her feature film debut was in The Red-Haired Alibi (1932). Fox signed five-year old Shirley to a contract in 1933. She would become one of the biggest box-office stars in the mid to late 1930s (1936-1938).
1932
Director Victor Halperin's independent, low-budget horror film White Zombie (1932), was the first 'true' zombie film. It was the first feature-length zombie film - the archetype and model for all subsequent zombie films. It starred Bela Lugosi as hypnotic and sinister Haitian sugar mill owner "Murder" Legendre with zombie slaves, was deliberately made with minimal dialogue, and filmed to be visually atmospheric and expressionistic.
1932
Tod Browning directed the unusual, gothic Freaks (1932) with real-life side-show "freaks" - one of his best works. It told how a group of freaks took revenge on a beautiful gold-digging trapeze artist and turned her into a monstrous half-human, half-bird. This cult film redefined the concepts of beauty, love, and abnormality, but was so disturbingly ahead of its time that audiences stayed away in huge numbers, and it was even banned for 30 years in England.
1932
Legendary French director Jean Renoir directed Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932, Fr.) (aka Boudu Sauvé Des Eaux), a critique of the French bourgeoisie, in its tale of an urban bum (Michel Simon) who was rescued by a bourgeois bookselling gentleman and brought to his apartment. The story served as the basis for Paul Mazursky's Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986) with Nick Nolte.
1932
MGM's classic Best Picture-winning film masterpiece Grand Hotel (1932) was the first 'all-star' epic featuring many high-powered stars of the early 1930s, including John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, etc. Basically, the entire cast was from MGM's star-making 'film factory', and the film marked the first major use of a large all-star cast that would later be copied in Dinner at Eight (1933), Airport (1970), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), and The Towering Inferno (1974), among others. Its ensemble cast of stars were occupants of a between-wars German hotel, all struggling with either their finances, health, or social standing in multiple storylines.
1932
MGM's Tarzan, the Ape Man (1932), was the first Tarzan talkie, and also MGM's first Tarzan film (it was the first of six MGM Tarzan jungle-adventure films starring Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller and co-star Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane, stretching from 1932-1942). It was also notable as the only MGM Tarzan film that was based upon the original "Lord of the Jungle" character in the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories. This film introduced the chimpanzee Cheeta, and provided the Weissmuller yodel yell (produced by MGM's sound department), although the ape-call originated in a 1929 part-talkie serial (starring Frank Merrill). The star swimmer Weissmuller was chosen for the role, in part, because he was a gold medals winner in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics.
1932
Welsh-born English actress Millicent Lillian "Peg" Entwhistle gained notoriety by jumping suicidally to her death from atop the Hollywoodland sign (built in 1923) - she allegedly jumped from the giant "H". She had been in only one contracted Hollywood movie role (a bit part) since arriving in the LA area, RKO's Thirteen Women (1932), and it turned out to be the last for the 24 year-old discouraged actress. Much of her acting part was deleted from the poorly-reviewed film's release after test screenings.
1932
The world's first major film festival was held in Venice, Italy - it was part of the Venice Biennale, a major contemporary art exhibition and festival that took place every two years. The international film festival presented Best Actor and Best Actress awards to Fredric March (for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)) and to Helen Hayes (for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931)). Rene Clair's French film A Nous La Liberte (1931) was considered the "most amusing" of the films exhibited. The festival is the longest-running festival still taking place, held in these years: 1932, 1934-1942, 1946-1968, 1971-1972, 1974-1976, 1979-today.


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