The Second World War period from 1930 to 1945 was
mainly famous for its talkies (talking pictures), the studios,
the beginning of film noir and 'The Golden Age of
It also includes the years of the greatest
film history which it has often been called by film buffs, movie
historians, and critics, chiefly due to the inordinate number of
classic films. It was the decade of the sound and color
revolutions and the further development of film genres like
gangster films, musicals, newspaper-reporting films, historical
biopics, social-realism films, lighthearted screwball comedies,
westerns and horror.
It was the era in which the silent period
ended and Production Codes for acceptable levels of taboo
material such as sex and religion were set. The first drive-in
movie theater was opened by then as well.
Advances in film
technology, including sound recording, lighting, special
effects, cinematography and use of color, were made which meant
that films were more watchable and 'modern'. The first TV ad for
a film was broadcasted. The most significant films of this time
are citizen Kane (1941), Casablanca(1942), gone with the wind
(1939), the wizard of oz (1939), the grapes of wrath(1940), all
quiet on the western font(1930) and duck soup (1933).
U.S., Japan, France, and Italy sign naval disarmament
treaty. Nazis gain in German elections. Cyclotron
developed by Ernest O. Lawrence, U.S. physicist. Pluto
discovered by astronomers. Chocolate Chip Cookie
Production Codes set the standards for acceptable
levels of taboo material such as sex and religion. Warner
Bros. inaugurated the crime-gangster film, with Little
Caesar (1930) - the first talkie gangster film, and
The Public Enemy (1931) The first feature-length
prison film was released. 5-minute pilot film
named Bosko The TalkInk Kid (1929) - the first
synchronized talking animated short, with a little
black boy character who actually spoke dialogue. All
Quiet On the Western Front (1930) Animal Crackers
(1930) All Quiet on the Western Front
becomes a republic with overthrow of King Alfonso
XIII. German industrialists finance 800,000-strong
Nazi party. Mukden Incident begins Japanese
occupation of Manchuria. Harold C. Urey
discovers heavy hydrogen. Gangster Al Capone sentenced
to 11 years in prison for tax evasion (freed in 1939;
dies in 1947).
first of Universal's series of classic horror films
was released: Dracula with Bela Lugosi, and
Frankenstein with Boris Karloff. German director Fritz
Lang's influential and suspenseful M was released
(Lang's first sound film) which was One of the
earliest talkies that effectively used sound, it was
also the first serious psychological crime
film/melodrama about a serial killer.
lead in German elections with 230 Reichstag seats.
Famine in USSR. In U.S., Congress sets up
Reconstruction Finance Corporation to stimulate
economy. Amelia Earhart is first woman to fly
Atlantic solo. Charles A. Lindbergh's baby son
Disney, whose first cartoon short, "Steam Boat
Willie" first showed in 1928, becomes the first
director to use the Technicolor process in his
animated short, The Flowers and the Trees. It
was also the first animation short to use 3-strip (or
three-color) Technicolor. Director Victor Halperin's
independent, low-budget horror film White Zombie, was
the first 'true' zombie film. It was deliberately made
with minimal dialogue, and filmed to be visually
atmospheric and expressionistic. MGM's Tarzan, the Ape
Man, was the first Tarzan talkie, and also MGM's first
Tarzan film. Grand Hotel (1932) Freaks (1932) Scarface
appointed German chancellor, gets dictatorial powers.
Reichstag fire in Berlin; Nazi terror begins. Germany
and Japan withdraw from League of Nations.
Roosevelt inaugurated ("the only thing we have to
fear is fear itself"); launches New Deal.
Prohibition repealed. USSR recognized by U.S.
adventure-action film King Kong. 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. The notorious
Czechoslovakian film Ecstasy (1933) contained nudity
and sexual situations The Payne Fund study, Our
Movie-Made Children, argued that films shaped
children's behavior. Theaters began to open
refreshment stands. The first drive-in movie theater
was opened. Deluge was the first 'end of the world'
big-budget disaster/science-fiction film featuring
revolutionary visual effects to depict and simulate
turbulent tidal waves hitting New York City. Calvacade
(1933) King Kong (1933) Zero For Conduct (1933) Duck
Dollfuss of Austria assassinated by Nazis. Hitler
becomes führer. USSR admitted to League of Nations.
Mao Zedong begins the Long March north with 100,000
Production Code Administration was formed to enforce
and strengthen the Production Codes formed in 1930. It
regulated content to ensure that acceptable levels of
sex, drugs, and violence were maintained. Donald Duck
debuted in The Wise Little Hen. John Ford's The World
Moves On was the first film to receive a production
seal granted by the Hays Office under its new
guidelines. The era of 'separate beds' was
inaugurated. Warner Bros. became the first studio to
shut down its German distribution office to protest
the Nazi's anti-Semitic policies.It Happened One Night
incorporated into Germany after plebiscite. Nazis
repudiate Versailles Treaty, introduce compulsory
military service. Mussolini invades Ethiopia; League
of Nations invokes sanctions. Huey Long
assassinated in Louisiana.
first Mickey Mouse film in color was released,
Disney's 9-minute The Band Concert. British director
Alfred Hitchcock became an internationally-famous
figure for his thrillers including The 39 Steps and
later The Lady Vanishes (1938). Century Pictures and
Fox Film merged to form 20th Century-Fox. Mutiny On
the Bounty (1935) Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
occupy Rhineland. Italy annexes Ethiopia. Rome-Berlin
Axis proclaimed (Japan to join in 1940). Trotsky
exiled to Mexico. King George V dies; succeeded by
son, Edward VIII, who soon abdicates to marry an
American-born divorcée, and is succeeded by brother,
George VI. Spanish civil war begins. War between China
and Japan begins, to continue through World War II.
Japan and Germany sign anti-Comintern pact; joined by
Italy in 1937.
romantic drama The Trail of the Lonesome Pine was the
first three-strip Technicolor feature shot entirely on
location. The Great Ziegfeld (1936) Mr. Deeds Goes to
Town (1936) Modern Times
repudiates war guilt clause of Versailles Treaty;
continues to build German power. Italy withdraws from
League of Nations. Japan invades China, conquers most
of coastal area. Amelia Earhart lost somewhere in
Pacific on round-the-world flight. Picasso's Guernica
full-length animated feature, Disney's Snow White and
the Seven Dwarfs, was released. The Life of Emile Zola
(1937) Le Grande Illusion (1937)
marches into Austria; political and geographical union
of Germany and Austria proclaimed. Munich Pact >
Britain, France, and Italy agree to let Germany
partition Czechoslovakia. Orson Welles's radio
broadcast War of the Worlds.
the first time, a group of movie stars organized a
committee, the Motion Picture Democratic Committee, to
support a political party. African-American leaders publicly
called on the Hays Office to make roles other than
doormen, maids, and porters available to blacks. You
Can't Take It With You (1938) Bringing Up Baby
invades Poland; occupies Bohemia and Moravia;
renounces pact with England and concludes 10-year
non-aggression pact with USSR. Russo-Finnish War
begins; Finns to lose one-tenth of territory in 1940
peace treaty. World War II begins.( In U.S., Roosevelt
submits $1,319-million defence budget, proclaims U.S.
neutrality, and declares limited emergency. Einstein
writes FDR about feasibility of atomic bomb.
has often been called the "greatest year in film
history" by film buffs, movie historians, and
critics, chiefly due to the inordinate number of
classic films. Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to
Washington The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Rules
of the Game, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,
Wuthering Heights, The Wizard of Oz
invades Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium,
Luxembourg, and France. Churchill becomes Britain's
prime minister. Trotsky assassinated in Mexico.
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania annexed by USSR. U.S.
trades 50 destroyers for leases on British bases in
Western Hemisphere. Selective Service Act
Hitchcock's first American film, Rebecca, won Best
Picture at the awards ceremony.
Chaplin released his first 'talkie' feature film, The
Great Dictator. Charlie Chaplin was the first to ever
receive three simultaneous nominations, as producer,
actor, and screenwriter for the film. Howard Hawks'
speedy and hysterically funny, modern-style screwball
comedy His Girl Friday, was one of the best examples
of its kind in film history. It was best
remembered for its overlapping dialogue and
simultaneous conversations - and it marked one of the
earliest instances in which characters would
deliberately (and realistically) talk over the lines
of other characters. Rebecca (1940) Fantasia The
Philadelphia Story The Grapes of Wrath
attacks the Balkans and Russia. Japanese surprise
attack on U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor brings U.S. into
World War II; U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan.
Manhattan Project (atomic bomb research) begins.
Roosevelt enunciates "four freedoms," signs
Lend-Lease Act, declares national emergency, promises
aid to USSR. Orson Welles's Citizen Kane.
Kane, the most significant commercial American movie
made is released.It was noted for its creative
experiments with sound (i.e., overlapping dialogue and
layered sound), for its numerous complex flashbacks
(and non-linear storytelling), and for Gregg Toland's
cinematography, including innovative camera angles
(low-angle shots revealing ceilings), montage, mise-en-scene,
deep-focus compositions, tracking shots, whip pans,
lengthy takes, and dramatic or expressionistic low-key
noirish lighting. The longest uninterrupted screen
kiss, clocking in at 3 minutes and 5 seconds. How
Green Is My Valley, Dumbo, Sullivan's
Travels, Meet John Doe, The Maltese Falcon
of United Nations signed in Washington (Jan. 1). Nazi
leaders attend Wannsee Conference to coordinate the
"final solution to the Jewish question," the
systematic genocide of Jews known as the
Miniver (1942) Cat People (1942) The Magnificent
Amberson's (1942) Yankee Doodle Dandy Casablanca
and Roosevelt hold Casablanca Conference (Jan. 14-23).
(1943) The Gang's All Here (1943)
invade Normandy on D-Day (June 6). Bretton Woods
Conference creates International Monetary Fund and
World Bank (July 1-22). Dumbarton Oaks Conference-U.S.,
British Commonwealth, and USSR propose establishment
of United Nations (Aug. 21-Oct. 7). Battle of the
Bulge (Dec. 16). Woody Guthrie records "This Land
is Your Land."
first TV ad for a film was broadcast by ParamountGoing
My Way (1944) Double Indemnity
Conference (Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin) plans final
defeat of Germany (Feb. 4-11). FDR dies (April 12).
Hitler commits suicide (April 30); Germany surrenders
(May 7); May 8 is declared V-E Day. Potsdam Conference
(Truman, Churchill, Stalin) establishes basis of
German reconstruction (July-Aug.). U.S. drops atomic
bombs on Japanese cities of Hiroshima (Aug. 6) and
Nagasaki (Aug. 9). Japan signs official surrender on
V-J Day (Sept. 2). United Nations established (Oct.
24). First electronic computer, ENIAC, built. First
Atomic Bomb Blast