A week or so ago Joyce Miller send a posting requesting titles on
30s films featuring southern women as well as information on the
decade's top grossing films. On the latter point first,
unfortunately there is no uniform, accurate guide to the most
popular films of the decade. Each of the various trades (Film
Daily, MP Herald, Variety, etc.) published their own lists of
varying length most years. Sometimes the titles are
complimentary, other times contradictory. It is these lists which
have been reprinted literally and uncritically in later books.
And of course the figures do not measure the degree of
profitability based upon the original budget of the picture. Nor
does the mention of a film as a moneymaker necessarily reflect
the more (?) accurate bookkeeping of the studio. For instance,
several sources list THE LOST PATROL as among the most popular
films of 1934, which is contradicted by studio records, per Rick
Jewell, author of The RKO Story.
Second, if you will excuse my personal bias for the films of
Robert Florey, you might check into MOUNTAIN MUSIC, starring
Martha Raye. It is a rather bizarre hillbilly musical comedy,
bordering on the screwball, set in Arkansas, starring Martha
Raye--most notable because it was Paramount's top grossing film
for the summer of 1937. It will certainly give you a contrast
between what is remembered now and what was popular at the time.
Brian Taves, Library of Congress