Movies and the
Resistance to Tyranny
INA RAE HARK
As the second half of the decade began in Hollywood, the turmoil that had marked the first half mostly subsided. This year saw either the continuation or the culmination of trends that would leave the studio system a mature oligopoly with a stable, vertically integrated system of production, distribution, and exhibition. The last of the major studios took on its familiar contours when Fox Film Corporation merged with Twentieth Century Pictures to form Twentieth Century Fox. The financial recovery in the industry continued as Fox and Paramount emerged from debt after successful reorganization, and theater admissions rose by ten million after a ten million increase the year before (Balio 30–31). Also this year, long experimentation with various color processes came to their culmination with the premiere of the first studio feature film using three-strip Technicolor, RKO's Becky Sharp, directed by Rouben Mamoulian.
The year also saw significant films starring many of the iconic stars of the era. Some had first came to prominence at the beginning of the thirties, while others only made their marks at its conclusion; for some, their careers (or lives) ended before the decade did, or continued for several decades beyond. Will Rogers starred in five films this year, two of which were released by Fox after he was killed in a plane crash in August. Meanwhile, surging to prominence at his studio was ticket-selling powerhouse Shirley Temple, who began a run of four straight years as "the number-one boxoffice attraction in the world" (Balio 147).
Elsewhere, Warners was discovering the romantic chemistry of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland in Captain Blood. Jean Harlow and Wallace Beery joined Clark Gable in China Seas, in which Gable found himself on the opposite end of a mutiny from the one he would lead in Mutiny on the Bounty. Greta Garbo was Anna Karenina, Katharine Hepburn was both Alice Adams and Sylvia Scarlett, supported in the latter by a Cary Grant not quite emerged into stardom. James Stewart got his first onscreen credit in Murder