Year 1933

It’s 1933 and despite the talkies and developments in colour filming, motion pictures are in trouble. The industry is placed under the National Recovery Administration code, receivers are appointed for Paramount Publix, RKO and Fox Theatres, and workers in the industry take an eight week salary cut.

On January 20, 1933 the film Ecstasy premiered in Czechoslovakia starring Hedy Lamarr, billed as Hedy Kiesler. 

In America, the Hays Censorship Office blew several gaskets and banned the film because it was “a story of illicit love and frustrated sex, treated in detail without sufficient compensating moral values.”

If only Hedy had stuck to inventing…

On March 2, 1933 King Kong premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The opening weekend takings were estimated at $90,000. However, the movie did not make the top ten highest grossing films of the year.

Notable debuts included: Fred Astaire, Errol Flynn, Dorothy Lamour, Claire Trevor and Orson Welles.

Orson Welles made his debut in Twelfth Night. Aged seventeen, he starred in, directed, and filmed (using a static camera) the production. He also provided a voiceover, via a recording on a gramophone disc.

Highest Grossing Movies

#3 Gold Diggers of 1933

Directed by Mervyn LeRoy with songs by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics), Gold Diggers of 1933 was staged and choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

Gold Diggers of 1933 was one of the first American films made and distributed with alternative footage in order to circumvent the censors who considered certain scenes “lyrical and lewd”.

#2 I’m No Angel 

I’m No Angel starred Mae West and Cary Grant. It’s almost unique in that it’s a Mae West movie that did not attract heavy censorship. That said, the Hays Office did insist on changing the song title of “No One Does It Like a Dallas Man” to “No One Loves Me Like a Dallas Man” and the removal of the movie’s original title, It Ain’t No Sin”.

#1 Roman Scandals 

Historical epics and musicals were popular in the late 1920s and early 1930s, put them together and you get Roman Scandals. The title is a pun on Roman sandals. The song “Keep Young and Beautiful” is arguably the highlight of the movie.

1920s – 1960s