1931 in film

The following is an overview of 1931 in film, including significant events, a list of films released and notable births and deaths.

List of years in film (table)
In television

Top-grossing films (U.S.)Edit

The top ten 1931 released films by box office gross in North America are as follows:

Highest-grossing films of 1931
Rank Title Studio Box office gross rental
1 City Lights United Artists $2,000,000[1]
2 Trader Horn Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $1,642,000[2]
3 Palmy Days United Artists $1,600,000[3]
4 The Champ
Daddy Long Legs
Metro-Goldwyn Mayer
Fox Film Corporation
5 The Man Who Came Back Fox Film Corporation $1,400,000[3]
6 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Merely Mary Ann
Paramount Pictures
Fox Film Corporation
7 Arrowsmith United Artists $1,250,000[4]
8 Hell Divers Metro-Goldwyn Mayer $1,244,000[2]
9 A Connecticut Yankee United Artists $1,200,000[4]
10 Cimarron
Bad Girl
RKO Radio Pictures
Fox Film Corporation


  • January 5: RKO acquires the producing and distribution arm of Pathé for $4.6 million.[5]
  • June 20: Monogram Pictures releases its first film, Ships of Hate.[6]
  • July 7: Anti-competitive practices disclosed about certain distributors and producers in Canada.[7]
  • November 17: E. R. Tinker elected president of Fox Films replacing Harley L. Clarke.[7]
  • December 14: RKO refinancing plan approved.[7]

Best money starsEdit

Variety reported the following as the biggest male stars in the U.S. in alphabetical order although grouped George Arliss and Ronald Colman together as having equal ranking.[8]

George Arliss

Ronald Colman

Wallace Beery
Maurice Chevalier
Clark Gable
Edward G. Robinson
Will Rogers

The following were the biggest women names in the U.S. in alphabetical order but again grouped two actresses together to denote they were ranked the same.[8]

Constance Bennett
Joan Crawford
Marlene Dietrich
Greta Garbo

Marie Dressler

Janet Gaynor
Norma Shearer

Academy AwardsEdit

The 4th Academy Awards were awarded to films completed and screened released between August 1, 1930, and July 31, 1931, by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Most Nominations: Cimarron (RKO Pictures) – 7

Major Awards

Most Awards: Cimarron – 3 (Best Picture; Best Adaptation and Best Art Direction)

Cimarron was the first Western to win Best Picture, and would remain the only one to do so for 59 years (until Dances with Wolves won in 1991). It received a then-record seven nominations, and was the first film to win more than two awards.

The 5th Academy Awards were conducted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on November 18, 1932,[9] at a ceremony held at The Ambassador Hotel[9] in Los Angeles, California. The ceremony was hosted by Conrad Nagel.[9] Films screened in Los Angeles between August 1, 1931, and July 31, 1932, were eligible to receive awards.[9]

Most nominations: Arrowsmith (Samuel Goldwyn Productions) and The Champ (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) – 4

Major Awards

Most Awards: Bad Girl (Best Director and Best Adaptation) and The Champ (Best Actor and Best Original Story) – 2 Note: The Academy Award for Best Picture went to 1932's Grand Hotel.

1931 film releasesEdit





Notable films released in 1931Edit

United States unless stated
















Short film seriesEdit

Animated short film seriesEdit



Film debutsEdit


  1. ^ Balio, Tino (1976). United Artists, Volume 1, 1919–1950: The Company Built by the Stars, Volume 1. ISBN 0-299-06940-0. City Lights premiered on February 6, 1931 and was acclaimed the apex of Chaplin's art. In the United States alone, it grossed $2 million; in its lifetime, it earned for Chaplin a profit of $5 million.
  2. ^ a b The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles, California: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  3. ^ a b c d e Finler, Joel Waldo (2003). The Hollywood Story. Wallflower Press. pp. 356–357. ISBN 978-1-903364-66-6.
  4. ^ a b Quigley Publishing Company "The All Time Best Sellers", International Motion Picture Almanac 1937-38 (1938) (pg. 942); accessed April 19, 2014
  5. ^ "Att'y Gen Scans R-K-O-Pathe Deal on Plea of Defeated Insurgents". Variety. January 7, 1931. p. 3. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Ships of Hate at the American Film Institute Catalog
  7. ^ a b c Ten Leading Events in the News of Motion Pictures During the Year 1931. The Film Daily Yearbook 1932. p. 9. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Six Best Money Stars". Variety. January 5, 1932. p. 1.
  9. ^ a b c d "The 5th Academy Awards – 1933". Archived from the original on 2012-09-04.