Best Picture Nominees: 1932

"From 1930 to 1934, silent films faded as talking pictures candidly explored prostitution, homosexuality, crooked politics, corrupt business, child exploitation, ethnic strife and miscegenation with a no-holds-barred attitude and wisecracking humor. Legendary bombshells Jean Harlow, Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis and tough guys Humphrey Bogart, Warren William and Clark Gable starred.

The films, most barely more than an hour long, still pack a narrative wallop. Mostly urban, they are Depression era naturalism, pulp cinematic novels about good-bad girls and guys struggling to survive.

However, rural America rebelled. The Catholic Church led a successful censorship fight. The Legion of Decency urged members to avoid any condemned movies and successfully lobbied Hollywood and Congress for more family values in film and an ethical code was enforced by what became known as the Hays Office."
From: Pre-Code Hollywood Films (San Luis Obispo International Film Festival)

For more information about 1932, see The Learning Network's Fact Monster.

Grand Hotel (Edmund Goulding)
Won Best Picture
"The Grand Hotel. Always the same. People come. People go...nothing ever happens."

This is a classic masterpiece set at Berlin's ritzy, "Grand Hotel". It is the story of the criss-crossing of the lives of five guests: an aging, suicidal Russian ballerina (Greta Garbo), a dashing jewel thief (John Barrymore), an ambitious, young stenographer who wants to be a movie star (Joan Crawford), a factory clerk (Lionel Barrymore) determined to see how the rich people live before he dies, and a ruthless industrial magnate (Wallace Beery). This is the movie in which Garbo uttered her famous line, "I vant to be alone."

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (Mervyn LeRoy)
Nominated Best Picture
James Allen (Paul Muni), returning from the war and rejecting a return to the old factory grind, degenerates into a hobo. Somehow he gets mixed up in robbery and is railroaded onto brutal chain gang. He escapes and makes his way to Chicago, where he finds success in the construction industry and grasping girlfriend Marie (Glenda Farrell), who threatens to expose him if he doesn't marry her.

Shanghai Express (Josef von Sternberg)
Nominated Best Picture
The Shanghai Express takes a perilous journey through civil war-torn China. Yet, some are more concerned that the notorious Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich) is on board than the fact that the trip will take more than three days. A British Army doctor, Donald Harvey (Clive Brook), knew Lily before she began living by her wits along the China coast. When Chinese guerillas stop the train, Harvey is selected as the hostage. Lily saves him, but can she make him believe that she really hasn't changed from the woman he loved five years before?

Smilin' Through (Sidney Franklin)
Nominated Best Picture
A romantic melodrama, starring Norma Shearer and Fredric March. John Carteret (Leslie Howard) has lived alone since the death of his true love Moonyeen (Shearer) at the hands of Jeremy Wayne (March). When he is asked to care for Kathleen, the niece of a close friend, he watches as the young girl grows into the spitting image of Moonyeen (Shearer plays both roles). When Kathleen wants to marry Kenneth, the son of Jeremy Wayne, John forbids it. Kenneth (also played by March) goes off to war, returns disabled, and more drama ensues...

One Hour with You (George Cukor, Ernst Lubitsch)
Nominated Best Picture
Andre and Colette Bertier (Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald) are happily married. When Colette introduces her husband to her flirtatious best friend, Mitzi (Genevieve Tobin), he does his best to resist her advances. But she is persistent, and very cute, and he succumbs. Mitzi's husband (Roland Young) wants to divorce her, and has been having her tailed. Andre gets caught and must confess to his wife. Though it sounds like the setup to a melodrama, it is actually a musical comedy!

A Farewell to Arms (Frank Borzage)
Nominated Best Picture
From the novel by Ernest Hemingway, this is a tale of the love between ambulance driver and nurse (Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes) during World War I.

Freaks (Tod Browning)
A classic horror film from the director of Dracula, this is the story of a group of grotesquely deformed circus freaks. It features many real-life circus sideshow freaks, including "pinheads," the "living torso", Siamese twins, and the half-bodied Johnny Eck. A beautiful but heartless high-wire artist (Olga Baclanova) marries a wealthy circus midget (Harry Earles), but then plots with her strongman lover (Henry Victor) to poison him to death for his money. In revenge, the group of freaks protect the midget from his bride and get even with her.

Download PDF with IMDB and other rankings for these movies.

Navigate to Other Years

1931 <- Main Menu -> 1933

Many posters provided in affiliation with

Search For Posters on!

Filmography links courtesy of IMDb link-it programme.
Many film synopses are summarized versions of complete film biographies found at, used without permission.

All posters are from, or other sources as noted. Non-commercial posters are used without permission, and are not intended for commercial use. These works will be immediately removed upon request of the copyright holder.

Oscar« and Academy Awards« and Oscar« design mark are the trademarks and service marks and the Oscarę statuette the copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This site is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Best Picture: 1932
What is the Best Picture of 1932?

Grand Hotel
I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Shanghai Express
Smilin' Through
One Hour with You
A Farewell to Arms

Current Results

Navigate to Other Years

1931 <- Main Menu -> 1933

Home   ¦  Sitemap   ¦  Search   ¦  Thanks   ¦  E-Mail