Norma Shearer Movies

Norma Shearer in 1930's The Divorcee

Norma Shearer in 1930’s The Divorcee

Want to know the best Norma Shearer movies?  How about the worst Norma Shearer movies?  Curious about Norma Shearer’s box office grosses or which Norma Shearer movie picked up the most Oscar® nominations? Need to know which Norma Shearer movie got the best reviews from critics and audiences? Well you have come to the right place.

This Norma Shearer  page comes from the request hotline.  Over the last few months I have received numerous requests to write a page on her.  When looking at her career…I quickly realized that I would have to concentrate on her career after 1928.  Sadly I do not have any box office information on any of her silent movies.  I did however have lots of information on her 20 “talkies”.  So here you go….a look at the later part of Norma Shearer’s movie career.

Norma Shearer (1902-1983) was one of the most popular actresses from the mid-1920s through the 1930s.  From 1929 to 1938 she picked up an incredible 6 Best Actress Oscar® nominations.  She was the third woman ever to win a Best Actress Oscar®.  She won for 1930’s The Divorcee.  By 1942 she had appeared in her last movie and spent the rest of her life shunning the limelight.

Her IMDb page shows 62 acting credits from 1919-1942.  She had 7 uncredited parts, 35 silent movie parts and 20 “talkie” movies.  This page only ranks her 20 “talkie movies”….they are ranked by 6 different columns of sortable information.

Norma Shearer in 1939's The Women

Norma Shearer in 1939’s The Women

Norma Shearer Movies Can Be Ranked 6 Ways In This Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort Norma Shearer movies by co-stars or in some cases directors
  • Sort Norma Shearer movies by adjusted box office grosses using current movie ticket cost (in millions)
  • Sort Norma Shearer movies by adjusted worldwide box office grosses using current movie ticket cost (in millions)
  • Sort Norma Shearer movies by how the movie was received by critics and audiences.  60% rating or higher should indicate a good movie.
  • Sort by how many Oscar® nominations and how many Oscar® wins each Norma Shearer movie received.
  • Sort Norma Shearer movies by Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score.  UMR Score puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score.
  • Use the search and sort buttons to make this table very interactive.  For instance if you just want to see the Norma Shearer/Robert Montgomery movies….just type Robert Montgomery in the search box and their movies will pop right up.

Stats and Possibly Interesting Things From The Above Norma Shearer Table

1. 15 of Norma Shearer’s movies crossed the magical $100 million mark.  That is a percentage of 75.00% of her movies listed. Marie Antoinette (1938) was her biggest hit….just barely holding off 1939’s The Women

2.  An average Norma Shearer movie grosses $114.30 million in adjusted box office gross.

3.  Using’s 60% fresh meter.  14 of Norma Shearer’s movies are rated as good movies…or 70.00% of her movies.  The Women (1939) was her highest rated movie while Strange Interlude (1932) was her lowest rated movie.

4.  9 of Norma Shearer’s movies received at least one Oscar® nomination in any category…..or 45.00% of her movies.

5.  3 of Norma Shearer’s movies won at least one Oscar® in any category…..or 15.00% of her movies.

6.  An average Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score is 40.00.  17 of Norma Shearer’s movies scored higher that average….or 30.95% of her movies.  Marie Antoinette (1938) got the the highest UMR Score while Strange Interlude (1932) got the lowest UMR Score.

Clark Gable and Norma Shearer in 1931s A Free Soul

Clark Gable and Norma Shearer in 1931s A Free Soul

Possibly Interesting Facts About Norma Shearer

1.  Norma Shearer’s childhood was spent in Montreal, Canada.  After winning a beauty contest at age 14, Shearer’s mother took Norma and her sister to New York City in 1920 to audition for Ziegfeld’s Follies.

2.  Although Shearer was rejected as a Ziegfeld Follie…she found roles as an extra in movies.  By 1923 she had secured a 5 year contract with MGM.

3.  Due to muscle weakness in her eyes…Norma Shearer had a cross-eyed stare.

4.  Norma Shearer’s sister, Athole, married legendary director, Howard Hawks.  So for 12 years Howard Hawks was Norma’s brother-in-law.

5.  Norma Shearer’s brother, Douglas Shearer, was a 12 time Oscar® winner.  He won his Oscars® for sound recording.  Norma and Douglas were the first brother and sister to be Oscar® winners.

6.  Norma Shearer was married twice.  Her first marriage was to movie studio executive, Irving Thalberg.  They were married from 1927 until his death in 1936. They had two children a boy and a girl. Irving Thalberg was the subject of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last novel…The Last Tycoon.  Robert DeNiro played the Thalberg character in the movie…The Last Tycoon.  Shearer’s second marriage was to Martin Arrouge.  She was married to Arrouge from 1942 until her death.

7.  Norma Shearer was offered the part of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind.  Due to negative fan feedback…she decided to not accept the offer to play the part.

8.  While staying at a ski lodge, Norma Shearer noticed a photo of the receptionist’s daughter and recommended her to MGM.  The receptionist’s daughter was Jamie Lee Curtis’ mom….Janet Leigh.

9.  Norma Shearer always refused to take her wedding ring off while making her movies.  She preferred to cover it up with flesh-colored tape.

10.  Check out Norma Shearer’s career compared to current and classic actors.  Most 100 Million Dollar Movies of All-Time.

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34 thoughts on “Norma Shearer Movies

  1. The first time I saw her was in Romeo and Juliet, she is fantastic, did you know that Norma on a skiying trip, saw a picture of Debbie Reynolds on the desk of the lodge director , ask who she was , Debbie was his niece, Norma sent for Debbie to have a screen test, the rest is history.

    1. That is great trivia on Debbie Reynolds. Thanks for sharing it. And yes indeed the rest is indeed history….great history.

  2. Oh, God.. way back in the day, back when I was in high school, I started a Freewebs page for Norma called, “Lady of the Night.” I had all of her MGM grosses back to 1924, including two grosses for films she did for Warner Bros.. I got them from the MGM information in the History Guide to Film, Radio, and Television.

    1. Hey Michael ….Very cool…these numbers are based on the box office rental numbers located in the MGM and Warner Brother ledgers at USC and Warner Brothers. Sounds like your Freewebs page would be a fun one to see today. Thanks for the feedback

        1. Very cool…..I wonder if the “way back machine” has that website. It is a website that shows websights from years ago….it is an amazing website. Just not sure how far it goes back.


    All right, here we go. Keep in mind this is an actress whom I love with all my heart:

    #20 Her Cardboard Lover – Her last film. Dumb mindless comedy, albeit with a good leading man, Robert Taylor. I guess she didn’t even care anymore.
    #19 The Trial of Mary Dugan – Her first talkie, and she only speaks after an hour of film. Interesting primitive court room drama.
    #18 The Last of Mrs Cheyney – Might have worked on the stage but as a movie it’s dusty and boring. It’s ok, though, cause it’s only her second talkie and one of the first talkies ever.
    #17 Lady of the Night – One of my favourites. Funny and poignant. She has two complete different roles and as a poor girl she looks exactly like Madonna in the 80s.
    #16 Smilin Through – Above average tearjerker improved by good cast. Norma and March worked great together.
    #15 Their Own Desire – Pretty good. But Robert Montgomery is a pet peeve of mine. I never thought he was a good or charming actor and it bugs me to see him paired with Norma.
    #14 Escape – Excellent film about an american looking for his mother in nazi Germany. Cast includes geniuses like Conrad Veidt and beautiful and talented Alla Nazimova. As it has been pointed out before, this should’ve been Norma’s last movie.
    #13 A Free Soul – Norma, as gorgeous as ever and Gable playing a thug! I love this movie.
    #12 The Divorcee – She looks stunning. Woman is cheated on, pays back in kind and humiliates herself for forgiveness throughout the rest of the picture. Pretty much the disgusting morality of the thirties. Norma made three or four films with the exact same plot. It’s beneath her.
    #11 We were dancing – Her next to last film. Same as #20. But the good leading man in this case is Melvyn Douglas.
    #10 Strange Interlude – Interesting adaptation of O’Neill’s play. Glable and Norma are good but it does get a little boring after a while.
    #9 Riptide – Same as #12. Even Montgomery plays the exact same role.
    #8 Idiot’s Delight – Weird comedy/musical about a group of people stranded on a swiss hotel during a WWII blitz. Just weird.
    #7 Private Lives – Fairly good adaptation of Noel Coward’s west end hit. Norma is awesome but Robert Montgomery ruins it.
    #6 The Student Prince of Old Heidelberg – Beautiful sad story about the love of a young prince for a poor girl. Novarro and Norma were great tohether, and Jean Hersholt’s character is as adorable as he was in real life.
    #5 He who gets slapped – Norma and John Gilbert play a couple of circus artists. The real star is the extraordinary Lon Chaney. Very good.
    #4 The Barretts of Wimpole Street – Brilliant. Norma, Laughton, March and the whole cast are great.
    #3 Romeo and Juliet – It’s a gorgeous production but Leslie Howard was too old. He may convince audiences that he was in love, but not that he was bursting with hormones, dying to get inside Norma’s panties. She, on the other hand, was brilliant.
    #2 Marie Antoinette – Sugarcoated, Hollywood version of the beheaded queen’s story. Not bad.
    #1 The Women – Adaptation of a dreadful ridiculous play about a bunch of rich women with nothing to do but cheat or be cheated on by their husbands. They’re glad when they cheat, they forgive when they’re cheated on. No wonder it has such an amazing cast and it’s forgotten.

    1. Great detailed comment from bbbernardo…..borrowed this comment from Steve’s you tube site….because I enjoyed reading it so much. Job well done.

  4. 1 STEVE Norma of course made silent movies and her dominant talkies period was its first decade when female stars seemed to have greater clout than the males in Hollywood and up and coming Greats like Gable, Tracy and Grant usually took 2nd billing to the women. Historians claim that eventually finding that situation tiresome was one of the factors that induced Gable to insist upon a top billing clause in his contract when it came up for renewal after Gone with the Wind. Indeed it always seemed to me that from the 1940s onward the gender power balance in Hollywood was to a large extent reversed with the likes of Grant, Tracy, Gable etc invariably being billed before the females so that Crawford for example refused to make any more movies with male Greats. Norma’s final 2 movies in 1942 flopped and as mentioned by Bruce she then retired from the screen. In the concluding years of her career she was romantically linked with male screen Legends Raft and Stewart.

    2 Splendid POSTERS from Trial of Mary Dugan, Last of Mrs Cheyney, The Divorcee, Riptide, Idiot’s Delight and The Student Prince. As well appealing to me were the three brightly coloured lobby cards from A Free Soul, Strange Interlude and Private Lives the first two including Gable with Norma. The still of Clark and Norma from Strange Interlude was also impressive but most of all I liked the solo still of ‘low life’ hooker Shearer from the silent movie Lady of the Night. Your video is a relatively short but sweet profile of one of the sound screen’s very first female superstars and worthy of a 93% rating. Bruce and you agreed on 4 of Norma’s Top 5 flicks. He included A Free Soul in his 5 whereas you instead went for the silent Lon Chaney/Shearer’s He Who Gets Slapped, though ALL Norma’s silents flicks were in fact excluded from her entire Cogerson page.

    1. Hi Bob, thanks for the review, rating, billing info and comparison, it is appreciated.

      Happy you liked the posters and stills.

      This is one of those video projects where I knew I was going in blind. I haven’t seen any of these films. The only one that really interests me is He Who Gets Slapped. Why? Because it’s Lon Chaney, the man of a thousand faces.

      Norma Shearer wasn’t beautiful and she was slightly cross-eyed but that didn’t matter much, she was very popular, she drew the crowds. Looking at the posters she was top billed on every film except two silents – The Student Prince and He Who Gets Slapped. A stark contrast to my previous video subject – Donna Reed – who ‘was’ beautiful and as far as I know was never top billed.

      For some reason my sources didn’t rate A Free Soul as highly as Bruce’s critics.

      Looking at my files the only film of Shearers to score 10 out of 10 was The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, it still wasn’t enough to take it into the top 5.

      The next lady on my list was born in London 91 years ago and she’s still making films!

  5. BRUCE

    1 As you say the updates have dramatically increased the number of Norma’s 100 million dollar movies and is it fair comment that the earlier a star’s career the greater the benefit he/she receives from the update?

    2 I am sure that we are all looking forward to learning what you will bring back from the proposed Warner Bros ledgers trip next month. Maybe you can resolve that debate that you and i had about Sayonara’s actual gross when you mentioned around 23 mil but my database showed 26.3 because that had been the figure originally quoted by The Numbers, Box office Story and IMDB before it wiped most of its classic era box office stats for some reason .
    Sayonara although filmed by Pennebaker Productions[Bud’s owned film company so called after his mom’s maiden name] was distributed by Warner Bros.

    3 However as it is you have already done much sterling work on grosses for Warner Bros films and before I came upon your site I could rarely make head nor tail of those box office figures that some sources quoted for Warner movies. Wikipedia was one of the sources but it seldom defined whether the stats were domestic grosses or rentals or worldwide figures and of course they were not inflation adjusted.

    4 Anyway sufficient unto the day and I’m now off to transcribe the Shearer updates into my database. Thanks again.


    1. Hey Bob.
      1. Yep….the older they are the more they benefit from the new equation. The closer it gets to 1980….the less the numbers improve. She by far had the greatest jump in $100 million movies….but 15 she’s more accurate than 2…..especially since she was one the biggest stars of the 1930s.
      2. That would solve the Sayorna debate for sure. The bad news is a got an e-mail from USC asking which year I am interested in answer of…..all of them does not seem to be the one that want to hear.
      3. Wiki is good for the MGM movies….but hit and miss on the Warner Brothers numbers. I lucked out on a data transfer exchange and got about 10 years of Warner a Brothers ledgers.
      4. Finally put the finishing touches on my father in laws interview…I think it turned out well.

      1. 1 Each of my top 4 favourite movie stars did well out of the updates Widmark, Peck, Jimmy Stewart and Ladd as their films all date back to the 30s and/or 40s.

        2 Further down my personal pecking order Bud initially got just two extra 100 million+ grossers but then you became a meanie by taking one away from him [Julius Caesar]. However you did increase his overall gross by around a billion which is not bad for someone with just 37 cinematic releases and over one third of them flops and/or low grossers.

        3 One of the biggest winners in my Top 20 was the Duke as I think the updates enabled him to leapfrog King Gable in your Top 100 Movie Stars list and become marginally second to Harrison Ford.

        4 So far some of my favourite female stars such as Joan Crawford, Doris Day and Deanna Durbin have substantially benefited from the updates Deanna getting nearly 50% of her movies over the domestic 100 million mark; though the changes haven’t made much difference to Julia Roberts as they do not seem to affect post 1982 stars all that much.


        1. Hey Bob.
          1. The classic performers will get a bump on the updates…while the current performers see very little increase….about the only thing they get is the new way the UMR score is calculated and links to other stars.
          2. Sorry I took away a $100 million hit away from Brando….but I think a billion more in grosses outweighs the reduction for Julius Caesar.
          3. Speaking of the Duke….a couple of days ago….I discovered a “new to me” box office grosses…for one of his 1930s movies…about to add that one to his page….which will only help his box office ranking
          4. Crawford, Day and Durbin were very very successful at the box office for sure….glad my new calculations is giving them the proper credit.
          As always…thanks for your input.

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