Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1933

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
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1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939

The Year 1933
Year
Event and Significance
1933
Silent film actor and comedien Roscoe Conkling "Fatty" Arbuckle, after being scandalized following a wild party in a San Francisco hotel in 1921 and falsely accused of rape and manslaughter in Hollywood's first major scandal, suffered a ruined career, ostracism, and the banning of his films, and retreated into alcoholism. Although ultimately vindicated after three trials and enjoying a brief comeback as a film director (alias William Goodrich) and in films for Warners, he died penniless of a heart attack at the age of 46.
1933
Fleischer Studios' (Max Fleischer) cartoon short Popeye the Sailor (1933) was the first cinematic appearance of the spinach-loving Popeye character, derived from E.C. Segar's popular comic-strip creation. Although the cartoon was a Betty Boop short (with Betty as a Hawaiian hula dancer from her role in Betty Boop's Bamboo Isle (1932)), Popeye (voice of William Costello) was the main character.
1933
Disney's wildly-successful animated cartoon The Three Little Pigs (1933), the 36th Silly Symphony (and the seventh in Technicolor) was the first Disney cartoon fully conceived on detailed storyboards. When accepting the Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoon) for the animation in 1934, Walt Disney was the first to refer to the gold statuette as an "Oscar" - it was the first time that the industry's pet name for the award was publicly acknowledged. The film's song: "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" became a popular hit song on the radio (it was the first time a cartoon had generated a hit song) - and was a popular theme song to help ward off the effects of the long-lasting Depression. The popular animated short was the first globally-successful story for Disney.
1933
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, although minor players, made their debut and danced in their first joint movie together, RKO's Flying Down to Rio. It was stage dancer Fred Astaire's second film! With King Kong (1933), this film saved RKO from bankruptcy. The couple appeared early on in a sensual, show-stopping dance number called "The Carioca" -- the dance required the dancers to touch foreheads while clapsing hands - and then execute a turn without losing forehead contact. Flying Down to Rio was most memorable for the title number, with airplane wing-dancing/walking, skimpily-attired chorus girls atop biplane wings (filmed in an airplane hangar with wind machines and a few planes hanging from the ceiling - enhanced with backdrops of Rio and Malibu Beach). The film was also notable in that the film's sexy star, Dolores Del Rio, was the first major star to wear a two-piece women's bathing suit ever seen onscreen. [Note: A brief scene showed a two-piece bathing "sun-suit" being modeled on a beach in Three on a Match (1932) a year earlier]
1933
Twentieth Century Pictures was formed in 1933 as an independent Hollywood film production company, created by Joseph Schenck (from UA), and Darryl F. Zanuck (from Warners). In just two years in 1935, it merged with the Fox Film Corporation to form 20th Century-Fox, overseen by Schenck and Zanuck.
1933
Director Frank Capra's Lady for a Day (1933) became the first film from Columbia Pictures to be nominated for Best Picture.
1933
The drama The Power and the Glory (1933), scripted by Preston Sturges and starring Spencer Tracy, was about an American industrial magnate. It had a strong influence on Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941).
1933
RKO's classic adventure-action film King Kong (1933), a "Beauty and the Beast" tale - dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" - featured "Scream Queen" Fay Wray, and astonishing stop-motion special effects animation from Willis O'Brien. It ended with the iconic image of Kong atop the Empire State Building, appropriately since the film premiered in New York City in early March of 1933 at Radio City Music Hall and at the Roxy Theatre. It was one of the first major films to have a life-like (stop-motion) animated central character, alongside live-action. It was the first film heavily promoted and marketed on the radio. When released, it broke all previous box-office records. Its massive, money-making success helped to save RKO Studios from bankruptcy.
1933
One of the first feature-length musical scores written specifically for a US 'talkie' film was Max Steiner's score for RKO's King Kong (1933). It was the first major Hollywood film to have a thematic score rather than background music, recorded using a 46-piece orchestra. After the score was completed, all of the film's sounds were recorded onto three separate tracks, one each for sound effects, dialogue and music. For the first time in film history, RKO's sound department head Murray Spivak made a groundbreaking sound design decision - he pitched the effects to match the score, so they wouldn't be overwhelming and so they would complement each other.
1933
The backstage drama/musical 42nd Street (1933), choreographed by Busby Berkeley, revitalized the over-exposed musical and saved Warners from bankruptcy. The film established Berkeley as the most talented choreographer of musical production numbers.
1933
Two other Busby Berkeley productions made at the same time, Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) and Footlight Parade (1933), launched dance and musical extravaganzas with creative camera angles and innovative staging. From 1933-1937, Berkeley created musical numbers for almost every great musical produced by Warner Bros.
1933
The notorious Czechoslovakian film Ecstasy (1933) (aka Extase) with Hedwig Kiesler (soon to be known as Hedy Lamarr) contained nudity (in a swimming scene), sexual intercourse and a simulated female orgasm. It was the first theatrically-released film (non-pornographic) in which the sex act was depicted (although off-screen). It was unusual at its time for depicting obvious female sexual pleasure (ecstasy) during orgasm (simulated) from the effects of oral sex. The film was, arguably, the first to depict female orgasm on-screen.
1933
Jean Vigo directed the influential social commentary film Zero For Conduct (aka Zéro de conduite, Fr.), about a full-scale rebellion in a French boys' boarding school against tyrannical authority, a film that was banned by censors until the late 1940s. The film closely resembles Lindsay Anderson's If... (1968).
1933
The Payne Fund study, Our Movie-Made Children, argued that films shaped children's behavior.
1933
Theaters began to open refreshment stands.
1933
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) was established in Hollywood, a self-governing organization of film actors to protect the rights of film and TV performers. Twenty-one actors became the Guild’s first officers and Board of Directors, with Ralph Morgan as President. Its motto was: "He best serves himself who serves others."
1933
The first drive-in movie theater was opened on June 6th at the Camden Drive-In in Pennsauken, New Jersey with the showing of the second-run film Wives Beware (1932), starring Adolphe Menjou. It was known simply as "Drive-In Theater" although the actual name was the "Automobile Movie Theater." Admission was 25 cents for each car and an additional 25 cents for each person.
1933
The films of bawdy and buxom Mae West, such as She Done Him Wrong (1933) and I'm No Angel (1933), raised the criticism of various groups over her racy, double-entendre-laden dialogue and her costumes, and hastened the move toward greater censorship the following year. The other sex goddess known as the "original blonde bombshell" -- the sensual Jean Harlow, also caused Hollywood to raise its eyebrows, especially after her appearances in Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels (1930), Platinum Blonde (1931), The Public Enemy (1931), Red Dust (1932), Red Headed Woman (1932), and Dinner at Eight (1933).
1933
Deluge (1933) was the first 'end of the world' big-budget disaster/science-fiction film (from RKO) in the sound era, featuring revolutionary visual effects to depict and simulate turbulent tidal waves hitting New York City.
1933-35
Warners' producer Leon Schlesinger assembled the 'gods of animation', including Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, and Bob Clampett.


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