Highest Grossing Movies, 1936
#3 The Plainsman, a Western directed by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur. The movie presented a fictionalised account of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill Cody and General George Custer. In 1937, Graham Greene wrote of The Plainsman, “perhaps it is the finest Western in the history of film.”
#2 San Francisco
A ‘musical-disaster movie’, San Francisco was based on the April 18, 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke, the film starred Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald and Spencer Tracy.
Legendary silent movie director D.W. Griffith directed some of the mob scenes, without receiving a credit.
#1 The Great Ziegfeld
A musical drama starring William Powell, Luise Rainer and Myrna Loy, The Great Ziegfeld offered an ‘airbrushed’ version of the life of theatrical impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.
Ziegfeld accumulated great wealth. However, he lost much of his money in the stock market crash of 1929. When he died in 1932, he left his widow Billie Burke with substantial debts.
In 1936 a poll of the top ten Western stars was published for the first time. The list included Buck Jones at #1, John Wayne at #7 and Buster Crabbe at #10.
Buck Jones, John Wayne’s hero, was one of the 492 victims of the Coconut Grove fire in Boston, November 28, 1942. Initially, he escaped, but returned to the building to save others, and was trapped.
Notable Movie Debuts, 1936
Judy Garland in Pigskin Parade, a musical comedy. Judy played Sairy Dodd. The previous year, along with her sisters, Judy featured in La Fiesta de Santa Barbara, a comedy short, while in 1937 she co-starred in Broadway Melody of 1938.
Anthony Quinn in The Milky Way, which starred Harold Lloyd. Based on a play of the same name, The Milky Way was a screwball comedy, and from the critics’ point of view, Harold Lloyd’s most successful talkie. Anthony Quinn appeared in a small, uncredited role.