The Great Depression was a depressing time of hardship. There were economic troubles, financial collapses, and agriculture declines, but that didn’t stop the fun. There was music, radio, dancing, dating, and family time. Also in the 1930s, movies became popular to social classes. Movies provided the reassurance of the future. Movies gave glimpses of what could be, and fascinated the people of the rural life, which led movies to become popular in demand. As the world entered a depression, Hollywood entered its “Golden Age”.
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The first attempt to make a movie was by Thomas Edison in the late 1870s. After creating the phonograph, he got the idea of creating a device that would show pictures along with the sounds from the phonograph. Although it was not a success, the process enlightened and sparked the ideas of others. In 1903, the first real attempt to make a motion picture movie or story-picture was by Edwin S. Porter with The Great Train Robbery. After Porter’s first story-picture came the following of many more. Not long after, Harry Davis came with the idea of creating a place to show these story-pictures. He built the first nickelodeon or five-cent theater in 1905, which caused the rise of many others.
The first Hollywood studio, Nester, was built in 1911 and was followed by many others. Story-pictures earned the name “movies” from the locals and provided work for the local community. The first actors were not named because as the studios predicted, they would demand higher pay. The revealing of actor’s and actress’s names started after Florence “The Biograph Girl” Lawrence’s accident. Studios also assumed that an audience would not sit through a film any longer than a short film. This assumption was stopped by the movie Birth of a Nation, a 3 hour film about the civil war.
When the 1930s rolled around, there were horror films, comedy films, drama films, mystery films, and musicals. The most popular were horror and comedy films. Horror films of the 1930s were alluring and extraordinary films. The ominous characters pulled audiences in with their creepy costumes and strange accents. Back then, horror was escapism of the tragic feeling of The Depression. People gathered in cinemas to be scared by mythical monsters of fictitious worlds. Three famous horror films are Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and King Kong (1933). All three were crowd favorites and today are classics that people still watch in awe.
Comedy films provided a temporary escape from life. They left, and still today leave, joy and smiles on people’s faces with their normally happy endings. Slapstick comedy and screwball comedy were both popular in the 1930s. Slapstick comedy was a silent, physical, and visual comedy that included horseplay. The Three Stooges (1930), is an example of slapstick comedy. Screwball comedy was included in the romantic comedy genre. Screwball comedy also included slapstick comedy. Screwball comedy was sophisticated romance films that pinpointed the battle of the sexes. The Awful Truth (1937) and Bringing Up Baby (1938) are examples of screwball comedy.
In the 1930s, Shirley Temple was an extremely popular child actor/star. People believe Shirley Temple’s popularity and fame came from the hope and entertainment she gave during The Depression. Shirley Temple played in The Little Colonel, Curly Top, Little Miss Marker, and Heidi. Two other famous child actors were Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer and Scotty Beckett. Alfalfa and Scotty were introduced to the world in Our Gang aka “The Little Rascals”, a comedy series. They were two of the most well-known child stars on the show. Both are still very popular today because of the modern film The Little Rascals.
Judy Garland, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, was a famous actress from the 1930s. She started acted at the age of 2 & ½ and worked her way up. She was the only actress that was signed by MGM without a screen test. Judy went on to be a not only an actress, but also a singer. She was very popular in the 1930s. A popular actor of the 1930s is Bela Lugosi. He played as Count Dracula in 1931 film Dracula. It was his signature performance on Broadway that was made a classic by Universal Studios. Both actors are remembered today for their lead roles in those popular classics.
Movies have come a long way. They showed the glamour of high society life. Movies were great ways to escaped hardships. Movies were reassuring and everyone enjoyed them. Movies have become more and more popular throughout the time periods. Hollywood ‘s Golden Age is over, but yet still growing.
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