If you think about stars of the 1930’s cavorting in stylish Art Deco settings, you might come up with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their series of films at RKO. Maybe Joan Crawford or Norma Shearer in a fantastic Cedric Gibbons set in some MGM film, but how about the four Marx Brothers? But their second picture, Animal Crackers, which opened at the 2,000 seat Rialto Theatre at 7th Avenue and 42nd Street on August 28, 1930, featured a huge set of a modernistic Long Island Estate.
Here is the wonderfully deco main title, the film then opens with this establishing shot inside the mansion.
This set was so large it took up the entire upper stage at Paramount’s, Astoria, New York studio. Ernst Fegte was the uncredited designer of the set. For some reason the art direction was never credited on Paramount’s East coast productions. Here are some more shots from the film, including a modern garden sculpture and a terrace set with chairs designed by mies van der rohe.
A 1932 short subject, Wonderland of California, featured a couple of rehearsal shots of Animal Crackers. Aside from the fact that Animal Crackers was made on the East Coast, these rehearsal shots were filmed in the two color process, Multicolor. By the time the short was released Multicolor was out of business and it’s laboratory was taken over by the Cinecolor Corporation. It was Cinecolor who processed the two year old film. Here are couple of shots of that color footage.
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