Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1936

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s
1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939

The Year 1936
Year
Event and Significance
1936
Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times (1936), mostly silent although with various sound effects, commented upon the effects of the Great Depression. This social protest film was Chaplin's final stand against the synchronized sound film - and it was also his last full-length "silent film" - although it must be noted that it is a quasi-silent film. The still-silent Tramp, with his familiar small Derby hat, mustache, large boots, baggy pants, tight jacket and cane made his last screen appearance. Via lip-reading, the Tramp's final words were deciphered to be: "Smile! C'mon!" Filmed between 1932 and 1936, it was directed, written, scored, and produced by Chaplin himself - and he also starred in his own 'one-man show' with his current wife and kindred spirit Paulette Goddard. Riot police were called to control the crowds at the film's NYC premiere in early February at the Rivoli Theater, but Chaplin was not in attendance for his first film in five years. He dreaded the thought of "being stared and pointed at as though I were a freak." However, he and Goddard did attend the glamorous Hollywood premiere a week later at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
1936
The Negro Improvement League protested The Green Pastures (1936), the first all-black film since King Vidor's Hallelujah! (1929). It was a reenactment of Bible stories set in the world of black American folklore and filled with cliches and racial stereotypes of the time. The organization criticized it as "insulting, degrading and malicious" and perpetuating unacceptable stereotypes.
1936
Composer and Warners' animation department musical director for over two decades, Carl W. Stalling chose "Merrily We Roll Along" (mostly used for Merrie Melodies) and "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" (mostly used for Looney Tunes) as the distinctive theme songs for Warners' cartoons.
1936
The Screen Directors Guild was organized by a number of Hollywood filmmakers, choosing director King Vidor as its first president (he served from 1936-1938). The Guild was renamed the Director's Guild of America (DGA) in 1960. Although Vidor was nominated five times for a Best Director Oscar (The Crowd (1928), Hallelujah! (1929), The Champ (1931), The Citadel (1938), and War and Peace (1956)), but never won the competitive Oscar.
1936
Bette Davis wished to further her film career and accepted an offer in 1936 to make two films in England. Aware that she had breached her contract with Warners, she fled to Canada to avoid being served with papers. Ultimately, an English high court in 1937 ruled against her - it declared that Davis had to honor her Warners' contract and return to the US to work exclusively for the studio. Davis returned to Hollywood, both without income and in debt. Her luck turned soon after, with appearances in Marked Woman (1937) and Jezebel (1938), for which she won her second Best Actress Academy Award.
1936
American film producer Irving Thalberg died at the age of 37 - he had been dubbed the "Boy Wonder" for his brilliant ability to selectively choose successful film projects. As MGM's head of production, he was responsible for such MGM classics as The Big Parade (1925), Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925), The Crowd (1928), The Broadway Melody (1929), Grand Hotel (1932), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera (1935), San Francisco (1936), Camille (1936), and Romeo and Juliet (1936), and post-humously The Good Earth (1937), A Day at the Races (1937), and Marie Antoinette (1938). He was married to MGM's biggest star of the 1930s, Norma Shearer, who had starred in The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934), and Romeo and Juliet (1936), among others.
1936
The romantic drama The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936) was the first three-strip Technicolor feature shot entirely on location (away from the studio). It was directed by outdoor action-adventure, western, drama, and war film director Henry Hathaway, and starred Henry Fonda, Fred MacMurray, and Sylvia Sidney.
1936
The first screen adventure for Flash Gordon, the comic strip character created by Alex Raymond in 1934, was Universal Pictures' 13 episode serial Flash Gordon (1936), starring Buster Crabbe.
1936
The Green Hornet radio show debuted on January 31, 1936. Universal's 13-episode serial The Green Hornet (1940) starred Gordon Jones as the crusading hero Britt Reid (the Green Hornet) - a modern-day 'Robin Hood'.
1936
After a short one-year contract with MGM expired, 14 year-old starlet-singer Deanna Durbin signed with Universal Studios and made her first feature film, the successful musical comedy Three Smart Girls (1936), reportedly saving the studio from bankruptcy. Other successful films followed starring Durbin, including: Best Picture-nominated One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937), and the sequel Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939).
1936
Producer Alexander Korda's British science-fiction epic Things to Come (1936) was a landmark film. Its score by British composer Sir Arthur Bliss, fitted to the film following its completion, became the first official soundtrack in its entirety to be issued on LP records to the public (in mid-April 1937). The orchestral score also found a life of its own in concert hall performances.
1936
Legendary musical director and choreographer Busby Berkeley was ultimately acquitted and cleared in his third trial regarding second-degree murder charges brought against him after a 1935 automobile multi-car accident in which allegedly drunk Berkeley killed three people and injured many others, including himself.
1936
Beggar's Wedding (1936, It.) (aka Nozze Vagabonde) was the first 3-D talkie film (with a synchronized soundtrack) to encourage the use of 3D polarizing glasses by its viewing audience.


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