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The Greatest, Part 1: Top 30 of the 30's

twaintrain

Active member
I have been on a mission to watch all the movies considered the greatest of all-time, starting in the 1930's. I used listings from the American Film Institute, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and Google to determine what movies to watch. Also, whatever movies with high ratings that happened to be on TCM. I plan to watch movies and make lists for every decade from the 1930's to the 2010's, Top 40 of the 40's, Top 50 of the 50's, etc. I have watched a ton already.

I am enjoying watching movies from different time periods. I used to think most old movies were boring, but the older I get the more I realize they truly are some of the greatest. The truly great ones don't seem old at all. I thought this would be a great place to discuss older movies, starting with those from the 1930's in this thread. These are my picks:

The Greatest, Part 1: Top 30 of the 1930's


1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

PG | 102 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Dorothy Gale is swept away from a farm in Kansas to a magical land of Oz in a tornado and embarks on a quest with her new friends to see the Wizard who can help her return home to Kansas and help her friends as well.
Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, Richard Thorpe, King Vidor | Stars: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr





2. Gone with the Wind (1939)

Passed | 238 min | Drama, History, Romance

A manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods.
Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood | Stars: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O'Neil





3. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Not Rated | 129 min | Comedy, Drama

A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.
Director: Frank Capra | Stars: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold





4. City Lights (1931)

G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically.
Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers





5. It Happened One Night (1934)

Not Rated | 105 min | Comedy, Romance

A spoiled heiress running away from her family is helped by a man who is actually a reporter in need of a story.
Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns





6. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

Not Rated | 115 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A simple, small town man inherits a massive fortune, making him the target for scammers and publicity-seekers. Overwhelmed by the turn his life has taken, and awoken to another use for his new-found fortune, he makes a momentous decision.
Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, George Bancroft, Lionel Stander





7. Modern Times (1936)

G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman.
Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford





8. A Night at the Opera (1935)

Passed | 96 min | Comedy, Music, Musical

A sly business manager and two wacky friends of two opera singers help them achieve success while humiliating their stuffy and snobbish enemies.
Directors: Sam Wood, Edmund Goulding | Stars: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Kitty Carlisle





9. Top Hat (1935)

Not Rated | 101 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

An American dancer comes to Britain and falls for a model whom he initially annoyed, but she mistakes him for his goofy producer.
Director: Mark Sandrich | Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Erik Rhodes





10. King Kong (1933)

Passed | 100 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.
Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher





11. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

PG | 102 min | Action, Adventure, Romance

When Prince John and the Norman Lords begin oppressing the Saxon masses in King Richard's absence, a Saxon lord fights back as the outlaw leader of a rebel guerrilla army.
Directors: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley | Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains





12. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

Passed | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Wrongly convicted James Allen serves in the intolerable conditions of a southern chain gang, which later comes back to haunt him.
Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Helen Vinson, Noel Francis





13. My Man Godfrey (1936)

Not Rated | 94 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A scatterbrained socialite hires a vagrant as a family butler - but there's more to Godfrey than meets the eye.
Director: Gregory La Cava | Stars: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady, Gail Patrick





14. You Can't Take It with You (1938)

Passed | 126 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family.
Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold





15. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

G | 83 min | Animation, Family, Fantasy

Exiled into the dangerous forest by her wicked stepmother, a princess is rescued by seven dwarf miners who make her part of their household.
Directors: William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen | Stars: Adriana Caselotti, Harry Stockwell, Lucille La Verne, Roy Atwell




16. The Awful Truth (1937)

Not Rated | 90 min | Comedy, Romance

Unfounded suspicions lead a married couple to begin divorce proceedings, whereupon they start undermining each other's attempts to find new romance.
Director: Leo McCarey | Stars: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy, Alexander D'Arcy





17. 42nd Street (1933)

Passed | 89 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

A director puts on what may be his last Broadway show and, at the last moment, a naive newcomer has to replace the star.
Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ruby Keeler





18. Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Not Rated | 102 min | Comedy, Family, Romance

While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard, Baby.
Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles, Walter Catlett





19. Swing Time (1936)

Not Rated | 103 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

A performer and gambler travels to New York City to raise the $25,000 he needs to marry his fiancée, only to become entangled with a beautiful aspiring dancer.
Director: George Stevens | Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore, Helen Broderick





20. The Little Princess (1939)

Approved | 93 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

A little girl is left by her father in an exclusive seminary for girls, due to her father having to go to South Africa to fight in the Second Boer War.
Directors: Walter Lang, William A. Seiter | Stars: Shirley Temple, Richard Greene, Anita Louise, Ian Hunter





21. Duck Soup (1933)

Not Rated | 69 min | Comedy, Musical, War

Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale.
Director: Leo McCarey | Stars: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx





22. Freaks (1932)

Not Rated | 64 min | Drama, Horror

A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.
Director: Tod Browning | Stars: Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova, Roscoe Ates





23. The Thin Man (1934)

Not Rated | 91 min | Comedy, Crime, Mystery

Former detective Nick Charles and his wealthy wife Nora investigate a murder case, mostly for the fun of it.
Director: W.S. Van Dyke | Stars: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton





24. Libeled Lady (1936)

Passed | 98 min | Comedy, Romance

A newspaper man, his ignored fiancée, and his former employee, a down on his luck reporter, hatch an elaborate scheme to turn a false news story into the truth in order to prevent a high-society woman from suing for libel.
Director: Jack Conway | Stars: Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy





25. Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Passed | 121 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

At a remote South American trading port, the manager of an air freight company is forced to risk his pilots' lives in order to win an important contract.
Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Richard Barthelmess





26. Stage Door (1937)

Approved | 92 min | Comedy, Drama

A chronicle of the ambitions, dreams, and disappointments of aspiring actresses who all live in the same boarding house.
Director: Gregory La Cava | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou, Gail Patrick





27. Shall We Dance (1937)

Approved | 109 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

A budding romance between a ballet master and a tap dancer becomes complicated when rumors surface that they're already married.
Director: Mark Sandrich | Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore





28. Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)

Unrated | 114 min | Drama, Romance

An aged teacher and former headmaster of a boarding school recalls his career and his personal life over the decades.
Directors: Sam Wood, Sidney Franklin | Stars: Robert Donat, Greer Garson, Terry Kilburn, John Mills





29. The Women (1939)

Not Rated | 133 min | Comedy, Drama

A study of the lives and romantic entanglements of various interconnected women.
Director: George Cukor | Stars: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland




30. Dark Victory (1939)

Approved | 104 min | Drama, Romance

A young socialite is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and must decide whether or not she'll meet her final days with dignity.
Director: Edmund Goulding | Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald

 
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twaintrain

Active member
Through watching movies from the 1930's I discovered I love Frank Capra movies ("Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," "It Happened One Night," "Mr. Deeds Goes To Town," "You Can't Take It With You"), the Golden Age produced better comedies than today, and silent movies can be great ("City Lights"). Even though I was familiar with his later work like "Vertigo", I re-discovered and fell in love with James Stewart. I also discovered the great work of Gary Cooper and Bette Davis. I definitely understand why musicals were so popular. I was thoroughly impressed by "42nd Street" and Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers' movies. And, the greatest to me, "The Wizard Of Oz" and "Gone With The Wind" were true epics whose production and visuals seem ahead of their time.
 
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txacar

Active member
Nice thread. Thanks for posting.

I recently returned to Turner Classic Movies, and appreciate the oldies more than ever. Watched "Going My Way" with Bing Crosby last night, and have recorded "Bells of St. Marys" to watch tonight. A couple weeks ago I was again captivated by the amazing actors, the great script, and the fact that I could not take my eyes off of "12 Angry Men."

Monday night they will air 3 previous versions of "A Star is Born." Janet Gaynor & Fredric March (1937); my favorite, Judy Garland & James Mason (1954); and, Barbra Streisand & Kris Kristofferson (1976). So many great movies upcoming -- I'm looking forward to seeing Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire" again.

Now back to the 30's, a couple of years ago my sister and I watched a 2 day Bette Davis marathon. Wonderful fun! Also, I agree "Gone With the Wind" and "Wizard of Oz" were far ahead of their time. I have the remastered collector edition of GWTW and it made me appreciate the original even more.
 

twaintrain

Active member
I didn't know much about Bette Davis before I watched "Fued - Bette and Joan". So, of course, I hunted down "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" as quickly as I could to watch for myself. That will be on a later list. My favorite of her 1930's movies is "Dark Victory" which made my list. Granted, I didn't watch every Bette Davis movie, but what strikes me is how she completely owns whatever she is in. She was the first actress, in my opinion, to do that. She had a style all her own.
 

txacar

Active member
^I think she was brilliant, and I loved "Dark Victory." I first saw it as a young kid in the '50s at an old drive-in theater. I was, actually, too young to appreciate the complexity of the film, but became a Bette Davis fan for life.
 

lizcarlo

Active member
I have loved old movies since I was kid. Bless you for putting this up :) .. Bette Davis is such fantastic actress. James Stewart is talented actor but also charming as well.

They have some old movies on YouTube. Of Human Bondage (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tkIjtQ2TwQ), Jezebel, Love Affair (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Gf_MbUynkY), The Secret of Madame Blanche, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dinner At Eight, Red Headed Women, Bombshell, Wuthering Heights (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTANqJjVxrI), A Farewell To Arms (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHu0MPCXSmQ), Grand Hotel and Queen Christina are some other great movies from the 30's .
 

twaintrain

Active member
I would be remiss not to mention the biggest star of the decade, technically she's the smallest lol, but she made more money than anyone else, and that's Shirley Temple. Heck, Shirley Temple saved 20th Century Fox from going under. My mother loved Shirley Temple so I grew up with her. It's funny how I never thought of her movies as "old," they were just Shirley Temple movies. My personal favorite (and my mom's) is "The Little Princess" (#20). "Bright Eyes" and "Heidi" were also close contenders.
 

txacar

Active member
^My oldest sister was 12 years older than I. When she died in 2012, she still had the Shirley Temple doll she got for Christmas when she was a little child. I have it now. It is in excellent condition and proudly displayed in my home. (She also had a large book of S.T. paper dolls -- I have those, as well.) Incidentally, I love "Heidi" and watch it every year at Thanksgiving.
 

txacar

Active member
Katherine Hepburn is another great actor of the 30s, and one of my favorites. I especially love the movie "Little Women" (1933) starring Katherine and Joan Bennett.

Katherine starred in 14 other movies during the 30s. All are listed here https://www.imdb.com/list/ls005547530/ and can be viewed on Prime Video.
 

lizcarlo

Active member
Katherine Hepburn is another great actor of the 30s, and one of my favorites. I especially love the movie "Little Women" (1933) starring Katherine and Joan Bennett.

Katherine starred in 14 other movies during the 30s. All are listed here https://www.imdb.com/list/ls005547530/ and can be viewed on Prime Video.

I adore Katherine Hepburn as well. She had strong unique charisma and charm. That version of Little Women is so good. I really like Stage Door. My mom for Christmas one year got me collection of her movies. I was so happy.
 

lizcarlo

Active member
Another actress I really like is Barbara Stanwyck. Stella Dallas is movie I enjoy she did in 1937. She did great job acting especially at the end.
 

txacar

Active member
^I didn't see her in Stella Dallas but, I agree, she is a wonderful actress -- thanks for posting about it. When I was small (before TV) "Stella Dallas" was a very popular soap opera on the radio. My Mom listened to it every day. I wonder if it was an off-shoot of the movie.
 

twaintrain

Active member
I have to say my biggest surprise with going back and watching these movies is how much I absolutely loved Charlie Chaplin movies. I didn’t think I would like silent movies (though, technically they aren’t 100% silent) but “Modern Times” and especially “City Lights” were amazing. Seriously, it was like I was watching movies made today made to look like they were from the 30’s. “City Lights” was one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. And the boxing scene was simply magic. I watched them on YouTube for free. I would highly recommend them if you haven’t seen them.
 

twaintrain

Active member
Katherine Hepburn is another great actor of the 30s, and one of my favorites. I especially love the movie "Little Women" (1933) starring Katherine and Joan Bennett.

Katherine starred in 14 other movies during the 30s. All are listed here https://www.imdb.com/list/ls005547530/ and can be viewed on Prime Video.

I have to say, I intentionally didn’t watch “Little Women” because I wanted it to be fresh when I see the new one (I’m in the theater now, lol). Also, don’t hate me, but I am not the biggest fan of Katherine Hepburn. I don’t dislike her but find her a little grating. Again, don’t hate me! Lol
 

txacar

Active member
I have to say, I intentionally didn’t watch “Little Women” because I wanted it to be fresh when I see the new one (I’m in the theater now, lol). Also, don’t hate me, but I am not the biggest fan of Katherine Hepburn. I don’t dislike her but find her a little grating. Again, don’t hate me! Lol

Lol, if we all liked the same things discussions like this would be rather boring. I just saw a review of current LW -- excellent. Have fun!!!
 

twaintrain

Active member
Lol, if we all liked the same things discussions like this would be rather boring. I just saw a review of current LW -- excellent. Have fun!!!

Haha, yeah. It would be boring. The new “Little Women” is fantastic! I absolutely loved it. Maybe the best movie of the year.
 

txacar

Active member
Haha, yeah. It would be boring. The new “Little Women” is fantastic! I absolutely loved it. Maybe the best movie of the year.

Thanks for that. I'll see it, of course -- I've seen all of the others. The reviewer I watched this morning mentioned awards for LW but I can't remember specifics. I only remember his predictions that "Judy" would dominate in several categories.
 

twaintrain

Active member
^Well, eight of my top 30, including the top 3, are from 1939. It was a very good year. Many say the best ever.
 
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