Year 1930

On February 21, MGM released Anna Christie, Greta Garbo’s first sound film. The movie was marketed with the slogan, “Garbo Talks!”

MGM kept Garbo away from the talkies for fear that she would fail. In fact, by the time she appeared in this film her English was so good she had to add an accent in several retakes to sound more like the Swedish Anna.

Her famous first line is: “Gimme a whisky, ginger ale on the side, and don’t be stingy, baby!”

On May 27 Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The movie featured Jean Harlow in her first major role, and catapulted her to stardom. 

The film was originally shot as a silent, but due to the new movie sensation, talkies, Hughes added sound. 

Following in the slipstream of First World War movies Wings and Lilac TimeHell’s Angel’s was not a financial success. 

Highest Grossing Movies

#3 All Quiet on the Western Front 

Considered at the time as a realistic and harrowing account of warfare in World War One, All Quiet on the Western Front is still regarded as a classic anti-war film.

The film was shot with two cameras side by side, with one negative edited as a sound film and the other edited for international distribution.

#2 Check and Double Check 

A comedy, controversial from our viewpoint, Check and Double Check was based on the Amos ‘n’ Andy radio show. The main characters appeared in ‘blackface’. The audience at the time ‘enjoyed the novelty’, but that novelty soon wore off. The film also featured Duke Ellington and his ‘Cotton Club Orchestra’.

#1 Whoopee! 

A comical musical western, Whoopee! was filmed in two-colour Technicolor. Eddie Cantor starred, while the movie also launched the career of Busby Berkeley. The cameraman was Gregg Toland, responsible for many of the creative camera angles seen in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.

Notable debuts included: James Cagney, Bing Crosby, Laurence Olivier, Maureen O’Sullivan, Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr. Hedy Lamarr appeared as an extra in Money on the Street, an Austrian-German romantic comedy.

1920s – 1960s