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November Looking Back: 1931 1932 1935 1956 1957 1981 1982

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Looking Back

August 1931

Step back in time to see what area movie theaters were presenting in August 1931. Film titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database.

For more information about these theaters, see Cinema Treasures or Water Winter Wonderland.


"Hey Kids," announced a movie page ad in the August 1, 1931 Ann Arbor News, "Take your parents to the movies. Every night during the Greater Movie Season, August second to twenty ninth, the Michigan, Majestic and Wuerth Theatres will admit free, all children under twelve years of age when accompanied by their parents." Group ads for these three Ann Arbor movie houses announced upcoming films.

The pressures of the Great Depression also led to special promotions in Detroit. "Shows are better than ever before!" shouted an ad for Publix Theatres. "The 1931-32 picture hits are here!" In the August 2, 1931 Detroit News, movie columnist Harold Heffernan wrote about the summer slump at the box office: "There has been the depresh for one thing, causing the money lenders who pull the strings over Hollywood's product expenditures to tighten up."

At the Michigan, two dynamic Warner Brothers stars appeared in Smart Money, a followup to their breakout performances in Little Caesar (Edward G. Robinson) and The Public Enemy (James Cagney). E. C. Beatty, the General Manager of the W.S. Butterfield Theatres chain, personally touted the Michigan Theatre appearance of Ernst Lubitsch's The Smiling Lieutenant (starring Maurice Chevalier): "This has class, novelty, beautiful women, suspense and above all, clever dialogue."

The Redford fought the hard times with star-studded second runs: Daddy Long Legs (Janet Gaynor and Warner Baxter); The Vice Squad (Paul Lukas and Kay Francis); I Take This Woman (Gary Cooper and Carole Lombard); and A Free Soul, with Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, Lionel Barrymoore, and new star Clark Gable. The Black Camel and A Holy Terror featured Sally Eilers, a "quiet-spoken America leading lady of the 30s." (Halliwell's Filmgoer's & Video Viewer's Companion)


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This web site is not affiliated with the Detroit Film Theatre, the Michigan Theater, or the Redford Theatre.

Web site copyright © 2014 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

Launched November 25, 2005.

Last updated November 23, 2014.

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