Project: 1930s canon (1.0)

THE 1930s CANON 1.0
(Chronological list, constructed using the lists project threads at the Criterion Forum.)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930, Lewis Milestone)
The Blue Angel (1930, Josef von Sternberg) [cap]
Earth (1930, Alexander Dovzhenko) [cap]
L’Age D’Or (1930, Luis Buñuel)
Morocco (1930, Josef von Sternberg) [cap]
Under the Roofs of Paris (1930, René Clair) [cap]
À nous la liberté (1931, René Clair) [cap]
City Lights (1931, Charles Chaplin)
Dracula (1931, Tod Browning)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931, Rouben Mamoulian) [cap]
Frankenstein (1931, James Whale)
La Chienne (1931, Jean Renoir) [cap]
Le Million (1931, René Clair) [cap]
M (1931, Fritz Lang)
Rich and Strange (1931, Alfred Hitchcock)
The Smiling Lieutenant (1931, Ernst Lubitsch) [cap]
Tabu (1931, F.W. Murnau) [cap]
Blonde Venus (1932, Josef von Sternberg) [cap]
The Blood of a Poet (1932, Jean Cocteau) [cap]
Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932, Jean Renoir) [cap]
Doctor X (1932, Michael Curtiz) [cap]
Freaks (1932, Tod Browning)
I Was Born, But… (1932, Yasujiro Ozu) [cap]
Love Me Tonight (1932, Rouben Mamoulian) [cap]
The Most Dangerous Game (1932, Ernest B. Schoedsack & Irving Pichel) [cap]
One Hour with You (1932, Ernst Lubitsch) [cap]
Scarface (1932, Howard Hawks) [cap]
Shanghai Express (1932, Josef von Sternberg) [cap]
Trouble in Paradise (1932, Ernst Lubitsch)
Vampyr (1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer) [cap]
Design for Living (1933, Ernst Lubitsch) [cap]
Duck Soup (1933, Leo McCarey)
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933, Mervyn LeRoy & Busby Berkeley) [cap]
The Invisible Man (1933, James Whale) [cap]
King Kong (1933, Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack)
Land Without Bread (SHORT 1933, Luis Buñuel) [short discussed below]
Queen Christina (1933, Rouben Mamoulian) [cap]
She Done Him Wrong (1933, Lowell Sherman) [cap]
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933, Fritz Lang) [cap]
Zéro de conduite (1933, Jean Vigo) [cap]
The Black Cat (1934, Edgar G. Ulmer) [cap]
Happiness (1934, Aleksandr Medvedkin) [cap]
It Happened One Night (1934, Frank Capra)
L’Atalante (1934, Jean Vigo)
Man of Aran (1934, Robert J. Flaherty) [cap]
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934, Alfred Hitchcock)
The Scarlet Empress (1934, Josef von Sternberg)
A Story of Floating Weeds (1934, Yasujiro Ozu) [cap]
The Thin Man (1934, W.S. Van Dyke)
Twentieth Century (1934, Howard Hawks) [cap]
Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale)
Mad Love (1935, Karl Freund) [cap]
A Night at the Opera (1935, Sam Wood)
Ruggles of Red Gap (1935, Leo McCarey) [cap]
The 39 Steps (1935, Alfred Hitchcock)
Top Hat (1935, Mark Sandrich) [cap]
Triumph of the Will (1935, Leni Riefenstahl) [cap]
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936, Jean Renoir) [cap]
A Day in the Country (1936, Jean Renoir) [cap]
Dodsworth (1936, William Wyler)
Fury (1936, Fritz Lang) [cap]
Modern Times (1936, Charles Chaplin)
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936, Frank Capra)
My Man Godfrey (1936, Gregory La Cava) [cap]
The Only Son (1936, Yasujiro Ozu) [cap]
Osaka Elegy (1936, Kenji Mizoguchi) [cap]
Rose Hobart (SHORT 1936, Joseph Cornell) [short discussed here]
Secret Agent (1936, Alfred Hitchcock)
Sabotage (1936, Alfred Hitchcock)
Sisters of the Gion (1936, Kenji Mizoguchi)
Swing Time (1936, George Stevens)
The Awful Truth (1937, Leo McCarey)
Grand Illusion (1937, Jean Renoir)
Lost Horizon (1937, Frank Capra) [cap]
Make Way for Tomorrow (1937, Leo McCarey)
Pépé le Moko (1937, Julien Duvivier) [cap]
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937, David Hand)
Stage Door (1937, Gregory La Cava) [cap]
Young and Innocent (1937, Alfred Hitchcock)
You Only Live Once (1937, Fritz Lang) [cap]
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, Michael Curtiz & William Keighley) [cap]
Alexander Nevsky (1938, Sergei M. Eisenstein) [cap]
Bringing Up Baby (1938, Howard Hawks)
Holiday (1938, George Cukor) [cap]
La Bête Humaine (1938, Jean Renoir) [cap]
The Lady Vanishes (1938, Alfred Hitchcock)
Olympia (1938, Leni Riefenstahl) [cap]
Porky in Wackyland (SHORT 1938, Bob Clampett) [short discussed below]
Gone with the Wind (1939, Victor Fleming)
Le Jour Se Lève (1939, Marcel Carné) [cap]
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939, Frank Capra)
Ninotchka (1939, Ernst Lubitsch)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939, Howard Hawks) [cap]
The Rules of the Game (1939, Jean Renoir)
Stagecoach (1939, John Ford)
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939, Kenji Mizoguchi) [cap]
The Wizard of Oz (1939, Victor Fleming)
The Women (1939, George Cukor) [cap]
Wuthering Heights (1939, William Wyler)
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939, John Ford) [cap]


This fun and fascinating project, gathering and reviewing 100 films of disparate origins from the 1930s, was the second installment in this blog’s very long-term “canon project,” as I’ve termed it, which uses lists voted on by cinephiles at an internet forum to help me fill out my knowledge of the classics in American and world cinema. (You can read more about the concept and its origins here.) As it happened, this first stab at the ’30s canon — which spanned from February 7 (The Black Cat) to December 10 (Stage Door) of this year — resulted in me adding 73 feature films to this blog’s database, only 14 of which I’d previously seen, giving a perfect opportunity to familiarize myself with movies I wish I’d known by heart long ago and finally writing at length about some long-cherished items. I’ve long named the ’30s as my favorite decade of film — both the most historically interesting because of the tumult inherent to the medium and the most artistically adventurous because of the imagination that was exhibited as a result — and the numerous wonderful new discoveries I made this year have served to reinforce that feeling. What follows is an attempt to summarize the essence of what I saw in these hundred films, not just the 73 I newly reviewed but all those that we previously discussed here as well, to try and draw a few lines, compress a few ideas, understand a few trends, and hopefully induce you to see as many of the most brilliant and rewarding of these films (which, frankly, describes a whole lot of them) as possible.

PART ONE: 1930-31
Broadly speaking, early talkies (this descriptor usually covers sound films made from about 1929 to 1932) are marked by a certain creakiness, a result of the awkward change of tack forced upon actors and crews by the introduction of sound and the complete upheaval of their medium. These problems are not particularly visible on the films chosen for this list, as of course the work from this era that has endured tended to be that which innovated and pointed the way forward, being the work of true visionaries who saw inventive ways past and through these problems. You can see the roots of these accomplishments in the 1929 works of two such innovators, Ernst Lubitsch and Alfred Hitchcock, whose The Love Parade and Blackmail respectively don’t seem even to miss a beat with the so often clunkily added dimension, and this with major production problems and compromises on the latter film. Studio resources undoubtedly played some role in Love Parade‘s seamlessness, though Lubitsch’s agility — shooting two dance sequences simultaneously so the soundtrack would be synchronized — is undeniable, while in Hitchcock’s case, pure ingenuity was the great cover. There are still those who allege that Blackmail‘s silent version — shot and released at the same time — is superior to the talkie, supposedly Britain’s first and certainly its first success in the field, but looking at it today, especially if you know its history and you’ve seen other 1920s sound films such as The Broadway Melody and They Had to See Paris, one’s major response is to wonder what right it has to look and sound as amazing as it does. (That doesn’t mean Hitchcock was immune to the wilderness that trapped many of his American peers, both because of the limits of the British film industry and because of a few of his own questionable choices, straightforwardly filming a couple of stage plays that now look quite antiquated, even though his fabulous, and fabulously weird, whodunit Murder! and — included on this list — the wry comic anti-romance Rich and Strange demonstrate that his penchant to harness every tool available to craft pure cinema was never far away.)

But before taking a deep dive into the early sound films that we as modern viewers can’t quite believe are quite so early, it’s worth noting the filmmakers who — out of necessity or stubbornness — had not left silent cinema behind at the dawn of the ’30s at all, and in some cases wouldn’t for some time. Our ’30s canon list includes five films that are, for every practical purpose, silent films, though one is more “pantomime” than silent. Because these films belong to what amounts to a wholly separate medium, I’ll break chronology and cover them first. Alexander Dovzhenko’s Soviet film about collectivization, Earth, is visually beautiful, impenetrable to most audiences, and what could sound add except to make it somehow vulgar? Like so many iconic Soviet propaganda or semi-propaganda films, it inherits subtlety from its own silence. Meanwhile, sound reached Japan considerably later than many other countries, so Yasujiro Ozu’s utterly delightful comedy I Was Born, But…, about two boys’ relationship with their conformist father, is silent by necessity — and it’s a case in which this status neither enhances nor detracts from it. Its naturalism would lend itself easily to spoken dialogue, but the title cards are no distraction and one adapts quickly even amidst Ozu’s typically realistic setting.

The dreamlike and expressionistic elements of silent cinema would undoubtedly have found their greatest champion well into the 1930s in F.W. Murnau, the artist most capable of holding steadfast to the visual essence of the medium, had he not died in a car accident tragically young. The German master, whose Faust and Sunrise are still among the most overwhelming works of art on film, completed two films in the ’30s. City Girl is a flawed, compromised but finally worthy followup to Sunrise, but it somewhat understandably did not make this list; his final film Tabu, however, holds a deserved place of honor. A nearly indescribable hybrid of Robert Flaherty-like ethnofiction and the familiar hazy and drunken romance of Murnau’s other American films, the picture also stands as an early indicator of how its distributor, Paramount, would ultimately prove the most director-friendly Hollywood outlet of the Depression era, at least from all outward appearances; it boasts an uncompromised, pessimistic but obliquely beautiful finale that one is hard pressed to imagine making it to the screen just a few short years later. Seeing Tabu today, after being familiar with the progression of Murnau’s previous work, is akin to feeling as if we are losing him anew; apart from Jean Vigo, of whom more very shortly, it’s hard to name a filmmaker whose loss seems to have hurt cinema more.

Of course, when one talks of the continued threads of silent film lurking in ’30s cinema, the most inescapable name of all is Charlie Chaplin; he alone among silent filmmakers absolutely refused, until 1940, to take part in the industry’s “revolution,” surely as much out of commercial consideration — how would audiences think of a Tramp who could talk? — as out of artistic integrity, but with some share of both. City Lights, like all of Chaplin’s features, had a long gestation period and had been in production before sound even became available, but its wildly successful theatrical run must have seemed some sort of miracle in light of how quickly silent film came to be seen by the public as a quaint memory. Then again, no one who has seen City Lights — and today, it’s perhaps the most widely seen and beloved of all silent movies — would likely see fit to find its success any kind of miracle, given that it’s among the most foolproof and wistful of all great screen romances, and surely one of the most durable of comedies. Its largeness as an institution transcends even the rest of Chaplin’s work; as wonderful as Modern Times is, its greatest failing is that it cannot begin to match the elegance of its predecessor. Still, Modern Times is of course its own triumph in numerous ways, though Chaplin’s insistence on shooting it without spoken dialogue can occasionally seem arbitrary, since he fills the picture with sound effects, disembodied voices and eventually a masterful song sequence — the bittersweet conclusion of the Tramp’s entire onscreen saga. Unlike City Lights, the film also traffics in a good bit of sentimentality, always a weakness of Chaplin’s to which he surrenders here like never before; yet one comes to love the film’s two major characters, portrayed by Chaplin and his then-lover Paulette Goddard, so much that their emotional arcs do finally seem fully earned if far less organic than one might prefer. Both of Chaplin’s 1930s film are magnificent entertainment all the same, a master at the peak of his powers — assured, pleasurable, smart, and frankly, invigorating. It’s almost indisputable, though, that Chaplin himself has realized by the close of Modern Times that it will not be possible for him to make another movie like this, and not simply because of changes in the medium and the industry, also as a symptom of the way he as a director had exhausted the possibilities of silent filmed comedy.

One of the most obvious influences on Modern Times, with its clever and visually sumptuous parodies of factory work and industrial progress, was René Clair’s remarkable socialist comedy À Nous la Liberté, made in France five years before Chaplin’s film was completed. As wry and knowing as Chaplin’s treatment of the foibles of the working man were, Clair — an underrated innovator whose silent work had ranged from playful farce to ebullient avant garde — tackles the same subject in a more acerbic, pointed manner with a deliciously anarchic message, plus traces of musical comedy and a general visual chutzpah that seems remarkably forward-looking for the time. By the end of 1931, Clair had already explored the collision of silent and sound cinemas with (along with Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr) one of the few 1930s films that can justifiably be called a hybrid or fusion of the two mediums, Under the Roofs of Paris. One can recognize that film’s impressive qualities, as well as those of Vampyr, without being able to fully buy into it as a narrative; despite some periodic moments of unforced beauty, from a modern perspective it’s one of the least successful films on the list, largely because its technical craftiness isn’t matched by the storytelling acumen Clair exhibits in Liberté or in his tremendous and marvelously simple semi-musical Le Million, a French comedy that feels like a Lubitsch picture, though the void left by the blatant sensuality of the earliest Lubitsch film on the list, The Smiling Lieutenant, is filled by a human if unseemly lust for money that also fills out portions of Under the Roofs of Paris, and seems to contradict the utopian message at the core of À Nous la Liberté. No one in Lubitsch ever seems to be struggling for any reason, yet somehow the audience resents his characters less than they may resent the untoward behaviors of some of Clair’s people; we’ll speculate a little on the psychology behind this in the next part of this history.

If Under the Roofs of Paris, Vampyr and — to a much lesser extent — Hitchcock’s Rich and Strange embody the last nods in sound cinema toward its increasingly unrecognizable roots, Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s L’Age d’Or — a feature-length follow-up and reaction against Un Chien Andalou, perhaps the most artistically accomplished of all silent films in terms of its purity and poetry — is arguably the first work of cinema to directly rebuke sound, utilizing it mostly to deliberately distort its own fragmented story, really just an illogical, sexual, violent dream, and to tease the impulses and short-term memories of its spectators. If there’s an argument at its core, it may be simply that the addition of our ears to our eyes in the cinematic experience can do little to illuminate its imagery, if the artist does not wish it to hold such power. The Blood of a Poet, Jean Cocteau’s similar foray into the tormented mind of the artist, seems to hold a similar message, though it’s somewhat less confrontational. As in Hitchcock’s Blackmail, the soundtrack in the Buñuel film is a kind of work of art in itself, delaying and obscuring and transferring the inferred experience of the visuals to something that we can faintly sense is related but that we cannot fully rationalize. It’s as if Buñuel transforms us into Anny Ondra’s disoriented assault victim in the Hitchcock film, trudging dazed through a universe that doesn’t make sense to us, as our relationship to reality gradually slips away; nothing that we see or hear, finally, can be trusted.

L’Age d’Or is quite likely the first masterpiece of the 1930s, one that proudly harnesses the fact that its primitive mode of communication is at its beginnings. When we watch the second masterpiece of the decade, a decidedly mainstream American feature from the ordinarily low-rent Universal studio (soon to be most widely known for its horror pictures, which ranged from startling elegance to cheap exploitation), we can scarcely believe it’s as old as it is, so seldom does it show any sign of dating from the first years of widespread sound and from that age of desperation and clamor in the Hollywood film industry. All Quiet on the Western Front exists above and apart from technological advancement or even storytelling innovation; director Lewis Milestone follows his own instincts and the drift of Erich Maria Remarque’s novel to simply relate a story that unfortunately knows no age and, to date, no barrier to permanent immediacy, despite its specific setting in the trenches of Europe during World War I. Milestone’s film, an episodic narrative of a group of boys taking the harrowing first and (in most cases) final steps toward a misplaced sense of glory, is astounding in its bluntness, its potency as a screed against war, its alarmingly realistic but straightforward — unsentimental — dramatization of lives being systematically ruined. Here again, Milestone takes advantage of the increased sensory input at his disposal. Sound is a source of horror: enemies frequently cannot be seen, bombs cannot be seen approaching, all of this can only be heard, and therefore it is felt, by us, in all its sickening unpredictability. All Quiet marks one of the few times a Hollywood film used its platform to advance a coherent political argument, one that we still often find ourselves expected to defend today, despite its obviousness — that war, far from being some sort of fleeting glory for young graduates, is an abomination.

Fear was not always so close to home, though audiences that flocked to see the films of Tod Browning, Rouben Mamoulian and James Whale in the early 1930s may have disagreed; we can scarcely imagine the effectiveness of Dracula (starring Bela Lugosi and slightly predating the potential for a full music score, which gives it an eerie stillness) and Frankenstein (starring Boris Karloff and brilliantly, wittily directed by James Whale with both a thrilling sense of fun — in sharp contrast to Browning’s sleazy dread — and a gleeful taste for schlock and seemingly built-in iconography) as modern audiences, but they remain sufficiently captivating that the only obstacle to tapping into those strong responses is the films’ own cultural dominance, their imagery still as embedded in the culture as ever. Rouben Mamoulian’s tormentingly twisted Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with Fredric March hamming it splendidly in the title role, all but guarantees a more feverish reaction, though even this trades on our familiarity with our own impressions of early ’30s horror cinema, since so much of a viewer’s shock is generated from our trust that a movie of this vintage won’t really go to this or that place, do this or that thing.

Outside of America, movies don’t really get that kind of a benefit of the doubt, so neither the amorality of Jean Renoir’s La Chienne nor the quite strict moral code of Fritz Lang’s M throw us quite as much, but that doesn’t make them any less engrossing; the Lang film is of course a masterpiece, another stark use of early sound and the absence thereof, as it tracks several cases pointing to a child killer terrorizing Berlin, and the investigation and underground vigilante justice system that springs up as a result. The imagery that covers Lang’s work here — some of it obviously an outgrowth of Ufa and of the unnerving climate of Weimar Germany — is as much the stuff of nightmares as anything in Dracula, but the greatest jolt of all comes from the unapologetic compassion of the film’s ending. La Chienne provides no such respite, expected or otherwise, and in fact the extremity of its nastiness — covering the miseries of a love triangle that ensues when a mild-mannered cashier (Michel Simon) finds out he is being used by his paramour — is off-putting even today, but that’s really the director’s point, and his treatment of this ugly subject is devotedly realistic while carrying the faintest hint of grinning irony. The viewer unprepared for the film’s violence and pessimism, as well as its lead character’s cavalier consideration of his own crimes, a long way from Dostoyefsky, is experiencing something strongly comparable, presumably, to the experience of Renoir as a new voice in the 1930s.

The other director whose films truly wallow in the same sort of human decadence and misery is Josef von Sternberg, who left behind the realism of The Docks of New York to produce a series of collaborations with the unmistakable singer-actress Marlene Dietrich that are nothing short of head-spinning in their flamboyance and artifice, without the distancing homogeny of so many high-budget Hollywood productions of that time or any. In Germany the pair made The Blue Angel, which finds Dietrich tormenting Emil Jannings; back in Hollywood they began in earnest with Morocco, a film that’s a little too reliant on an absurd resistance to communication on the part of the characters potrayed by Dietrich and her latest victim, Gary Cooper. Sternberg fills both these films with lively, unforgettable imagery that seems to pop from the screen, even on a TV set; yet his, and Dietrich’s, and Renoir’s, and Michel Simon’s, best work still lay ahead. But already they had fed the dreams of millions.


PART TWO: 1932-34
The 1930s are the first full decade of the familiar Studio System in Hollywood — the “Golden Age” is regarded as opening its curtain on The Jazz Singer in 1927 — and by this point we see the characters of and differences between these powerful institutions falling into place. Prior to 1948, the studios wielded even more awesome influence than they do now because the assembly line was generally theirs from start to finish, before the Supreme Court forced them to divest themselves of the movie theaters they owned. Theater ownership was the primary feature that separated the so-called Big Five from the three “lesser” majors. The Five were 20th Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount, RKO Radio Pictures and Warner Bros.; with the exception of Fox, you can get a fair glimpse of the “house style” of each of these outlets from this list, though Paramount — which had the best directors and many of the best stars under contract — is understandably represented more than the others. MGM carried the greatest air of “legitimacy” and class, and wielded the strictest control over its artists; Warner Bros. was the most populist and gritty; while RKO, despite never forging a clear identity, seemed to have the most artistic ambition (they hadn’t been known for their musicals, but the Astaire-Rogers musicals they made are the most stylish and modern ever shot in Hollywood; they hadn’t been known for comedies, but they made Bringing Up Baby, the most manic and irresistible screwball of all; and their idea of a monster movie was, well, King Kong); and Paramount, with Ernst Lubitsch and Josef von Sternberg among its charges, reveled in the freedom and lack of strong censorship in the pre-Hays era. Paramount’s pre-Code films are those that, along with errant titles like All Quiet, give the strongest indication of how stunning a classic Hollywood without Hays might well have been.

The three smaller studios, which had no ownership of large theater chains but were far above Poverty Row status, had distinctive identities as well. Universal began the decade with considerable prestige that it rapidly lost, despite some commercial success with its horror films, and was struggling badly by the end of the ’30s, subsisting on B-grade productions. Columbia tended to be synonymous with cheap pictures until one of its staff directors, Frank Capra, came to prominence; the story of Columbia over the rest of the decade is nearly exclusively the story of Capra, and It Happened One Night is specifically the film that allowed the studio to be mentioned in the same breath with the other sub-majors. The last of these is United Artists, a collective founded by celebrities with a goal of complete artistic control. UA had a slow pace of output and always served, in modern parlance, more as a distributor than as a production company, even if technically it was both, and was the primary unit of communication with the masses for a good number of independent producers such as Samuel Goldwyn and Walter Wanger. (For example, Charlie Chaplin had his own studio and answered to no one, which is why he was able to take multiple years to make films.)

The Great Depression manifested very differently in cinema in the United States than abroad; with the encroaching dread that enveloped Europe throughout the ’30s, even the most entertaining films from that continent were imbued with foreboding and fear, whereas in the U.S. escapism and a kind of flaunting of conspicuous consumption, particularly at MGM and Paramount, were the order of the day. One might wonder if such behaviors were tone-deaf, but there seems no use denying that this particular brand of wealthy fantasy is something that nets a large audience in the leanest of times. At any rate, the pregnancy in the mood of films from the UK, France and Germany is an intriguing mirror image of the glee and hedonism of many of the best Hollywood pictures from the same span of years. It can only be described as jarring to look at Luis Buñuel’s strange, deadpan short documentary about Las Hurdes, Land Without Bread, which uses monumental misery and tragedy — some of it staged — to almost force one’s disenchantment and disinterest and need to turn away from deepest strife, or Robert Flaherty’s equally fanciful but also hardened ethnofiction Man of Aran, about the hard life of the Irish islanders, and then to look at, say, Design for Living, which agreeably reduces human problems to which man a woman should sleep with and whether she can have both. What’s even more remarkable is that Design for Living today feels like the most progressive of these three films, free of judgment and finger-wagging, whereas Buñuel and Flaherty both look irresponsible in their use of staged scenarios to moralize effectively.

None of this is to say that Hollywood ignored the plight of its customers during the worst years of the Depression. It’s everywhere, if anything. Class conflict manages to permeate Rouben Mamoulian’s ecstatic, Lubitsch-like musical comedy Love Me Tonight and indeed provides it with its climax (“the son of a gun [Maurice Chevalier] is nothing but a tailor!”) while the robbery of the rich is celebrated in Lubitsch’s stunning Trouble in Paradise, a film that — like his other pre-Hays features, including The Smiling Lieutenant and One Hour with You — flaunts its sexuality in a marvelously shameless manner that would stand out even today. Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night, cited at times as the first screwball comedy but difficult to reconcile with the subgenre’s usual tone, is essentially a covert celebration of the ordinary people its two leads, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, encounter on a chaotic cross-country journey, suffused like all of Capra’s best work with a genuine affection toward and attraction to the everyday. The Warner Bros. musical Gold Diggers of 1933 (which sags a bit, aside from its excellent Busby Berkeley musical sequences) spends considerable early sceen time on the difficulties faced by young women trying to make a living as dancers, as does Stage Door (from 1937, so a few years down the line) re: actresses. But none of these films are humorless explorations of poverty, they simply face up to reality while doing their job of giving their audience what it’s perceived (correctly, for the most part) to want.

The studio system carried major virtues and distractions, obviously among them being the relative economic freedom — in the worst of times, movies were at their most profitable — that allowed a film as early as Morocco to look so much slicker than one, like Hitchcock’s Rich and Strange, made in England some years later. But bemoaning its loss, as is common and frankly tempting, ignores the individualism and beauty that was more freely in evidence in other filmmaking countries during this period. No matter how much one adores Lubitsch or James Whale or Josef von Sternberg — none of whom, remember, were born in the United States — you can knock yourself out picturing what they might have done under the same conditions as a Renoir or an Ozu. To stick to comedy for a moment, Boudu Saved from Drowning is a difficult and sometimes obnoxious film, but watching its title character completely thumb his nose at and freely rebuke the wealthy suitors who attempt to lift him up and change his life as a do-gooder tactic is a more alarming rejection of bourgeois values than one would ever see in a Hollywood picture. (Among the Hollywood comedies examined from the first half of the decade, only the early Hawks screwball Twentieth Century has a similar disregard for decorum.) Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock would soon come and make outstanding features in Hollywood, but Lang would never concoct anything as completely nuts as The Testament of Dr. Mabuse again; and Hitchcock’s many beleaguered young marrieds would never again have the vitality and lived-in realism of the central couple, Leslie Banks and Edna Best, in The Man Who Knew Too Much, the thriller that began to turn its director into an international star. (There is, incidentally, an American analogue here as well in the form of Nick and Nora (William Powell and Myrna Loy) in the first Thin Man, their banter delightful and affection unmistakable, but even in this case, there is no interest in the grit and frankness of the Hitchcock film.) And would any Hollywood studio ever encourage the honesty and ethereal beauty of coming-of-age stories as poetic as Jean Vigo’s Zero de Conduite and Yasujiro Ozu’s I Was Born, But…? The former is adolescent chaos, the latter quiet and moody, but both feel more like life than anything made in Hollywood, as does Vigo’s final film before he died of TB at age 29, L’Atalante, one of the rawest and most undiluted pieces of romance on celluloid; you can argue that American films are, for the most part, about something entirely different and equally human and honest, and you’d be largely correct, but it’s fair even now to question the value of commodifying an art form if an absence of work like this is the inevitable outgrowth.

Paramount was the studio whose output most resembled the uncompromised work of the European directors; this is borne out even by the most famous of their Marx Brothers films, Duck Soup, which is essentially an avant garde picture with big comedy stars in it. Sternberg’s Shanghai Express, another of his Marlene Dietrich vehicles, is a flawed film but one of the few to communicate the same urgency and fear as the best European thrillers of the ’30s. The fear of sexuality that would come to permeate all of the studios after the Hays Code set in isn’t even remotely in evidence in the Mae West classic She Done Him Wrong, a period piece (set in the 1890s) whose liberated attitude is akin to that of the Lubitsch pictures, but with a woman as its prime creative force.

Of course, in one respect Hollywood never had to be persuaded to take things to an uncomfortable extreme; violence on camera had been the great driving force of American filmmaking since at least The Great Train Robbery, and the absence of enforcement of the Production Code, which had been drafted in 1930, allowed for the creation of gangster films like Howard Hawks’ terrifically lurid Scarface as well as the flourishing of horror as an American genre. The horror pictures of the early part of the 1930s are almost invariably the finest ever made in the United States; the tendency of Hollywood in the early sound era to push up against its technical limitations with a sense of genuine excitement lends itself particularly well to the desires of directors like Tod Browning, James Whale, Rouben Mamoulian and Edgar G. Ulmer to entice and exercise control over their audiences. Beyond the obvious, still-impressive King Kong and aforementioned Frankenstein and Dracula, some of the great horror treasures of this era are the immortal Freaks, which presents a strong case for the lax “standards” of Hollywood pre-Hays actually allowing for more nuanced and compassionate narratives, Michael Curtiz’s two-strip Technicolor Doctor X, an extremely fun foray into production design mastery that looks like it was an absolute blast to create, the alarmingly seamless special effects exercise The Invisible Man, led by a splendidly demented Claude Rains, and the admirably convicted, tense and hopelessly vile The Most Dangerous Game, explicitly the type of unforgivingly macabre tale the Hays office meant to circumvent. I found myself less high on The Black Cat, an in-name-only Poe adaptation, but who can resist the chance to see Lugosi and Karloff share the screen?

The game was up in June 1934, when the Production Code Administration was established to police the wide distribution of films, preventing release for any studio pictures that did not comply with Hays office regulations. This not only impacted the ability to present dialogue, events and visuals that could be deemed remotely offensive, it seriously cut back on the potential stories that Hollywood films could tell — particularly because of rules like that which instructed that murderers couldn’t get away with their crimes, that consummation of adultery was completely forbidden, that all actors would be forever chaste and fully clothed. Arguments can and have been made that this strict adherence would force directors to get more creative, but there’s no question that this veered American directors and performers from a course that was becoming quite fascinating, and transformed Hollywood as a whole into what MGM, to an extent, already was: a kind of surreal ivory tower in which life and human behavior as depicted onscreen were transformed and carictured into something that barely even resembled their real-world counterparts. Hollywood would recover, great films would be made, but they would never again be the same kind of great films we had prior to 1934.


PART THREE: 1935-39
Horror was, rather predictably, cut at the knees by the Code, perhaps even more so than comedy; even though the damage to both genres was obvious, comedy directors could at least fake their way through with innuendo and continue to tell adult stories, though the lone Code-enforced Lubitsch film seen here, the strangely well-loved Ninotchka, certainly doesn’t give cause for optimism given its irksome bourgeois conservatism. No longer positioning itself as an entertaining voice and cathartic outlet for its audience, the Lubitsch “touch” here has mostly an alienating effect. But horror has nowhere to go at all under the Code; Mad Love, in production before the change, tries to fake it with sheer over-the-top outrageousness, and it has some scattered moments of ingenuity, but its story is so confused and dumb — seemingly by necessity, a dilution of The Hands of Orlac that forces a pat conclusion — that any pleasure one gets from it is fleeting, despite presenting Peter Lorre with his first Hollywood role. Bride of Frankenstein is the sole miracle, somehow superior to its predecessor despite the limitations, mostly because Whale precisely locates the remaining avenues he has to real, joyous perversion. It’s one of the horror films that transcends everything and just functions as grand art and entertainment, unlimited by genre convention.

Thrillers struggled to cope as well; Fritz Lang’s Fury and You Only Live Once both carry marks of compromise from Hays, but he goes farther in pushing boundaries than most of his peers, having just emigrated from Germany to flee the Nazi threat, and he wrings unexpected drama and romance and even political outrage from the convoluted, engaging stories of both films, and indicates that undiluted harshness and social criticism remains possible even under the Code. Still, compare these films to the loose, freewheeling qualities of Alfred Hitchcock’s British thrillers — collected by scholars as the Gaumont Six, or Thriller Sextet — and you’ll find dread and ambiguity unencumbered by such commercial considerations, which had the effect of fully transforming Hitchcock into the first true celebrity director of the sound era. Among these six films, only Young and Innocent seems to escape the doom of the impending war, but even it, a sort of British variant on the American travelogue in It Happened One Night except with a murder at its center, has a tension and excitement unknown in Hollywood. The 39 Steps is largely comic but places us in the shoes of someone in actual danger, and its sense of journey is like nothing else in cinematic history; while Secret Agent and the chilling Sabotage cast an eye on the messiness of war and espionage on a painfully human scale. All three films have aged impeccably and still carry the same urgency as ever, as does The Man Who Knew Too Much (based on a Bulldog Drummond story, and therefore more conventional, but still holding scattered Nazi allusions and capable of unnerving even a modern viewer), but it’s The Lady Vanishes that sets the stage for Hitchcock’s future career in multiple respects. With a different writing team than the other films, it’s a successful fusion of crowd-pleasing caper and — after a gradual transformation — a dark, violent thriller with elements of perspicacious political warning, just a year before the breakout of the war. Because it’s consistently witty and enjoyable and also genuinely capable of striking us with fear and nervousness, without copping out on either element or compromising at the finale, it conclusively demonstrates that Hitchcock was perhaps the filmmaker most capable of transcending the limits wrought upon him in his pending Hollywood career, and after a somewhat bumpy start this would prove correct.

Hitchcock had no peer in Europe or anywhere, but there were occasionally films, like Lang’s in America but especially during the poetic realism movement in France, that seemed to further the same conversation about storytelling and mood that he was initiating. Two outstanding examples were Jean Renoir’s La Bête Humaine and Julien Duvivier’s Pépé le Moko, remarkable films that — like Hitchcock’s Sabotage — forecast, with in some ways a greater seriousness and realism, the American Film Noir of the 1940s. Renoir’s atmospheric feel-bad railroad story upholds his famous proclamation that everyone has their reasons, but posits that such reasons may indeed be dreadfully self-serving and even violent, without even the mild redemption he offered his lead character in La Chienne; but Moko will probably ring truest for American viewers familiar with not only Noir but the more widely beloved likes of Casablanca, a specific film that Moko — set in Algiers and with a sense of place and stagnation similar to the Warner Bros. film — seems to proactively turn on its head, exposing the winding miserable alleyways under its sheen of foggy, dream-factory perfection. (Marcel Carné’s Le Jour Se Lève has a similar impact, but it didn’t affect me quite as deeply.)

The late ’30s, as represented on this list, are full of similar studies in contrast: the war film as interpreted in France by Jean Renoir as a pacifist-leading document of absurdity and interpersonal complexity, Grand Illusion, which evokes and builds upon the intimacy and ideological conviction of All Quiet on the Western Front without feeling nearly so (intentionally) didactic; versus the war film as interpreted in America by David O. Selznick and MGM as a simultaneous nostalgic celebration, glamorous glorification and colorful nightmare. Gone with the Wind seems to both revel in the naiveté of its characters and to softly critique it. Few films have earned a more permanent place in popular culture, and by force of will alone it deserves it, feeling today as if it’s the synthesis of everything considered possible in Hollywood in the 1930s, even as it reinterprets American tragedy on the cusp of further tragedy yet, all of it still stinging now in all its senselessness, necesitty or no; Renoir’s view of this seneslessness is if anything less judgmental than the Americans’. Any temptation, however, to draw a line from peace advocacy to sheer isolationism finds a handy challenge in Germany; after most of the filmmakers whose work concerns us had fled, Leni Riefenstahl stayed and collaborated. Triumph of the Will is the crucial filmed document of the 1934 Nuremberg Rally, while the two-part Olympia celebrates the Berlin Olympics of two years later. Triumph is an exceptionally difficult film to watch today for the same reasons that Birth of a Nation is; it has insufficient art to counterbalance one’s discomfort, whereas Olympia — despite its blatant valentine to the glories of the Aryan flesh — is as bravura and striking as ever. The vitality in both of Riefenstahl’s films is troubling because, like so many of the other films named here, they seem to dissolve the distance between us and these past historical events that have come to seem almost abstract to us. With a fascist now in the White House, the films made an especially distressing impression this year.

Hollywood would not start to directly rebuke Hitler until 1940, when two British directors would lead the artistic charge against the spread of Nazi power in Europe. One of them, Charlie Chaplin, did make gestures toward political consciousness in 1936’s Modern Times, but for the most part the Code circumvented the potential for such forceful commentary in comedy. Frank Capra works hardest to overcome this; despite the politeness of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, it does demonstrate the director’s empathy toward the poor, arguably its most commendable element; Gary Cooper is too uninspiring and lethargic to make as strong an impression as James Stewart does in the highly similar and equally idealistic, yet often scathing, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Compared to the Lubitsch and Rouben Mamoulian works earlier in the decade, though, the comedies from the last half of the ’30s that make this list are rather feeble indeed. Even the Marx Brothers lose something in A Night at the Opera, compared to their natural kinetic state; the freewheeling surrealism of Duck Soup only survives into 1935 here via the Russian surrealist satire Happiness by Aleksandr Medvedkin.

The exception is obviously the screwball comedy, a brief movement that peaked in the ’30s but lingered for a few years after, the nuts and bolts of which are contingent enough upon fantasies unaffected by the Code — so often centered on wild, unhinged behavior and goofy, mixed-up relationships — that as the decade rolls on the relevant films become loonier, more ambitious. My Man Godfrey becomes far less innocuous than its script suggests thanks to the complete work of art that is Carole Lombard’s performance, so massively demanding and strange she makes the leading man, William Powell (so much more at home in a very different kind of movie), look like he’s glued to a highway facing oncoming cars. Bringing Up Baby, though unrelated, synthesizes the inspired looseness of that performance into an entire innuendo-filled film, a live action cartoon that only seems more surreal and beautiful as one grows more familiar with its mechanics, though my kingdom for another experience like the first time I saw it. And The Awful Truth is an outlier in the sense that, in the midst of a delightful comedy-of-remarriage plot, it manages to incorporate some of the most erotic non-Lubitsch moments in classic Hollywood, mostly thanks to Irene Dunne, who — with Lombard and Hepburn — demonstrates that the individualism freely afforded the actresses, if not always the female characters, in these films has given them a permanence that domestic comedies of the era would otherwise have lacked entirely. (See Woman of the Year, a very funny movie, for an indication of just how much Hollywood writers and producers did not wish women to have careers and lives of their own; the women in these screwball comedies may be falling over themselves in pursuit of men, but at least they are true forces that resist any kind of outside control and are never shamed for doing so.)

The Depression rears its head in various narratives of working class people making good — Ruggles of Red Gap, My Man Godfrey, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town — but these have nothing on the socialist parables and sharp cultural critiques of Renoir, in 1936’s The Crime of Monsieur Lange, which excuses a murder on grounds of its providing the possibility of a utopian share-and-share-alike collective on the part of the employees of a publishing company (a message perhaps even more radical than the cheerfully anti-work À Nous la Liberté some years earlier), and 1939’s The Rules of the Game, which retains a charge even if Renoir can’t quite hate the people he’s targeting. Oddly, the one Hollywood comedy we examined here that did seem to share something like the humanity and warmth of Renoir was one in which nearly all the characters are wealthy: George Cukor’s film of the Philip Barry play Holiday, which celebrates eccentricity and what now feels like real love — familial and romantic — in a way rare in Hollywood productions then or now. (There are shades of this in another Capra film not part of this project, You Can’t Take It with You, but Holiday is more resistant to taking its kooky occupants over the top, and thus it has aged better, certainly with a more generous amount of agency for its characters.) It can’t be stressed enough, at any rate, that a key feature of the comedies that make this list is that they are actually funny — and funny in a way that doesn’t limit the audience to those whose sense of humor has failed to advance since the third grade. When I grew up comedy was my favorite genre, but the comedies I loved then failed to grow up with me (aside, perversely, from the cartoons), and that goes doubly for the ones that made their way to the local multiplex. If we want to talk about longing for the past, I have to admit that the general caliber and unforced liveliness and humor of even the Hays-compromised comedies here really makes me wonder.

And what of more serious films for adults? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; I’ve never fully warmed to William Wyler’s Wuthering Heights despite growing affection for the director, cinematographer and parts of the cast, though it has its eye-poppingly gorgeous moments. I was extremely excited to see Howard Hawks’ celebrated Only Angels Have Wings, about a dangerous commercial air freight company’s messy day-to-day existence but failed to find it as resonant as I hoped despite its admirable toughness. George Cukor’s MGM curio The Women, notable for its complete absence of onscreen males, comes off as priggish and class-conscious, especially in light of movies like Stage Door that more compassionately investigate the lives of struggling women, and feels like what would happen to All About Eve if Joseph Mankiewicz hated his characters as much as he seemed to hate the women in his real life. Make Way for Tomorrow, a film Leo McCarey directed the same year he won an Oscar for The Awful Truth, was the inspiration for Ozu’s magnificent Tokyo Story and is frequently viewed as one of the saddest movies ever made. It does indeed have moments of palpable emotional pain, especially the sequence in which the aging couple at the film’s center — about to be sent to separate retirement homes by their children — reenact their own honeymoon in New York, and the aching final shot, which carries a feeling of bleak, solemn finality calling back to the earlier Paramount film Morocco. (Has any logo come to signify a loss of breath more than that mountain springing up at the end of movies like these and Vertigo?) It certainly has the feel of a movie that couldn’t be made by a studio at any subsequent time.

The same could be said, getting back to Wyler, of Dodsworth, one of the greatest films on this or any list of classics. Like Holiday, it’s a human drama about the very wealthy, but their wealth becomes incidental as the human problem of a crumbling marriage — explored and illuminated with stunning sympathy and realism — is built to invade and make a mess of our hearts, thanks as much to the impeccable performance of Walter Huston as a retired auto magnate taking a retirement cruise with his wife as to any help provided by the filmmakers and story. Huston knows this character down to his soul, and luckily for us, Wyler is right there with him. Every progressive change, conversation, character transition in the film has an air of truth that we tend to associate more with European or Asian cinema from this time (additionally, the transformation of an acerbic Sinclar Lewis novel to something with more humane dramatics specifically calls to mind the conflict that seems to drive Renoir’s treatment of The Rules of the Game), though Wyler’s strong feeling for family life would come through with equal brilliance and emotion in The Best Years of Our Lives a decade hence. When all is said and done, this could be the film that best represents Hollywood in the ’30s, even after the Hays interference, for me; I have a hard time naming more than a handful of other movies that moves me at such a base level. This has been true since I was around 23, and that such is even possible to a young audience member seems to disrupt so much conventional wisdom about “old art” and how we relate to it. You have to make your way to Japan to find other films on this list that cut so deeply; four remarkable examples are here: Ozu’s sober confused-parentage drama A Story of Floating Weeds and three stunning documents by Kenji Mizoguchi of women struggling with societal expectation: the unsatisfying but still painful Osaka Elgy, The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum and the masterpiece Sisters of the Gion. These are of course directors whose cumulative bodies of work deserve more attention and examination than I can offer here, and I am anxious to continue that quest.

As I noted last year during the silent canon project, there are fundamental flaws in the technique I’m using during this very slapdash chronological leap through movie history, namely that many important films and entire genres are insufficiently examined. I realize this, and I want to stress that we’ll come back to the ’30s again and will go deeper, but for now I’d like to mention some specific areas in which I still feel pathetically uninformed. The Hollywood musical hit its first peak in the ’30s, and while we only looked at four American musicals for this project, the pair of magical Astaire-Rogers features (Swing Time and the hilarious Top Hat) that did make it really tell you plenty about the caliber of artistry in the field at the time, but I regret there was no chance to delve into the famous MGM musicals of the same timeframe (Warners did get a mention earlier with Gold Diggers of 1933) outside of The Wizard of Oz, an incomparable and inescapable film that’s really a genre unto itself but is of course unceasingly delightful in every way, and probably the only film on this list that I would argue is perfect. Oz also serves as one of only two forays here into live action fantasy, along with Frank Capra’s unorthodox and fascinatingly passionate Lost Horizon, which carries a yearning for peace not incomparable to Renoir’s, though it could only have existed in Hollywood. Going further into the genre films, the action-adventure and the western were sorely undervalued here, especially because The Adventures of Robin Hood is not in my view an especially grand example of the former, not compared to silents like The Thief of Bagdad and The Black Pirate anyway, and while Stagecoach is a splendid and endlessly revealing monument to a turning point in film history, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg for both John Ford (we did also watch Young Mr. Lincoln, agreeable schmaltz but not a revelation) and for westerns in general in the ’30s.

Three other subjects that I hope to take on separately at a later date: propaganda, which will become even more relevant in the ’40s but is present here via Dovzhenko, Riefenstahl, and Eisenstein’s terrific Alexander Nevsky; surrealism, which apart from Buñuel finds us through the unorthodox sources of Joseph Cornell’s privately conceived cut-and-paste film Rose Hobart and Bob Clampett’s outstandingly unfettered short cartoon Porky in Wackyland, one of the first masterworks by one of the greatest cartoon directors of all. Speaking of which, animation is a subject of particular interest to me and American cartoons were at their peak in the 1930s; I can and will write all day long about it, but only covered here were the aforementioned errant Looney Tune and of course Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs… but then again, at the end of the day do you really need much besides Snow White to prove a more general point about animation in the ’30s, or for that matter about cinema in the ’30s? I certainly don’t. I enjoyed the hell out of this project, and I needed it this year, so thanks from the living to the dead for everything they did for us.


This is here in case you have any interest in following along with this project in any capacity yourself.

With the exception of Olympia, of which more below, I had little trouble getting ahold of any of the feature films included in this canon project. My typical sources are Netflix (streaming and DVD), Filmstruck, Amazon Prime video, and various libraries, but for the purposes of this guide I’m going to assume one’s pathway to a given film is just via iTunes, Amazon video, Youtube/Google Video and Vudu. Therefore, the following films are not available to rent online at those usual places:

Morocco and Blonde Venus are both available individually as part of Universal’s MOD program but are more cheaply included in Universal’s two-disc “franchise” set Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection, which has been discontinued but is still at Amazon and Ebay for next to nothing at this writing.
À Nous la Liberté, Le Million, Boudu Saved from Drowning, I Was Born, But…, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Zero de Conduite, Man of Aran, The Man Who Knew Too Much, A Story of Floating Weeds, The 39 Steps, The Only Son, Osaka Elegy, Sabotage, Sisters of the Gion, Pépé le Moko, Young and Innocent, Alexander Nevsky and La Bête Humaine are on Filmstruck as part of the Criterion Channel and I cannot recommend a subscription to both highly enough.
Rich and Strange is around and about all sorts of places, but to see a print that won’t make you want to claw your eyes out I advise you to seek out Lionsgate’s Hitchcock Early Years box.
– If you don’t subscribe to Netflix’s DVD by mail service and no libraries near you hold them, the easiest, cheapest way to see The Smiling Lieutenant and One Hour with You (even though Universal offers them via MOD) is by getting Criterion’s terrific boxed set Eclipse Series 8: Lubitsch Musicals, which has two other films (including the Best Picture-nominated The Love Parade) and is generally superb.
Tabu is on Filmstruck at this writing, though not as part of their permanent collection; Kino’s DVD and Blu are in print as of 2017.
The Blood of a Poet shows up on streaming subscripton services at times but not reliably, and the Criterion boxed set that held it is out of print, but Amazon does offer an imported region-free edition somewhat affordably. (I can’t speak to its quality as I checked the film out from a university library.)
Love Me Tonight is in print from Universal’s MOD service; Kino’s pressed disc is out of print except as part of a box, though Netflix still had it last I checked.
Shanghai Express is also offered as an MOD from Universal and I was unable to find any other way of getting it.
Trouble in Paradise and The Scarlet Empress are in print on disc from Criterion; I got them from Netflix and then bought them and I can almost guarantee you’ll want to do the same, unless you’re some weirdo who hates life. Design for Living and Make Way for Tomorrow are also Criterion disc exclusives at the moment, not rentable online anywhere.
Happiness is out on DVD from Icarus Films, packaged with The Last Bolshevik. Again, for the moment, this is offered by Netflix via mail.
The Crime of Monsieur Lange briefly showed up on Filmstruck and has recently had a restored theatrical run, but the only way I can see to actually watch it right now is by picking up the shitty PD disc offered by Amazon. Hopefully this situation changes soon, as I want a copy of this pretty badly myself; to date the film has never received a satisfactory home media release.
Dodsworth is on Filmstruck right this minute but not as part of their permanent collection. HBO and MGM released it on DVD in 1998 and 2001 respectively but both discs are out of print and they’re not cheap. Surely some third party picks this up before long, as it truly fits the profile of a neglected masterpiece.
Wuthering Heights is in essentially the same situation as Dodsworth, except that Warner’s DVD of Heights is apparently still in print. Both films are from the Samuel Goldwyn library, and there have been rumors for a number of years about Criterion or some other third party having big plans for those titles.
– You can buy a digital copy of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs right now, you just can’t rent it, or you can pick up the latest iteration of the DVD and Blu, in print since early 2016 but probably not forever.
You Only Live Once was just this year rereleased on DVD and Blu by the boutique label ClassicFlix. It’s worth buying.
– The hardest time I had tracking a film for this project was with both parts of Riefenstahl’s Olympia; happily, it’s not only included on Criterion’s gigantic new boxed set of Olympic films, it’s also now available to rent on iTunes!

There were only three shorts on this list, so this is a bit simpler than in our Silent Canon project.
Porky in Wackyland was compiled on Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 2; all six Golden Collections are now readily available in a very affordable boxed set. More recently, the cartoon was included with the rest of the black and white Porkys on Warner Archive’s MOD title Porky Pig 101.
Rose Hobart is on Youtube and the NFPF’s website, but if you’d like a disc source, it’s included on Treasures from American Film Archives, which most good university libraries should have, though it’s out of print.
Land Without Bread was recently reissued on DVD by Transfilm with a good number of extras; there are various online sources, most of them lower quality.



U.S.: All Quiet on the Western Front; Morocco; City Lights; Dracula; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Frankenstein; The Smiling Lieutenant; Tabu; Blonde Venus; Doctor X; Freaks; Love Me Tonight; The Most Dangerous Game; One Hour with You; Scarface; Shanghai Express; Trouble in Paradise; Design for Living; Duck Soup; Gold Diggers of 1933; The Invisible Man; King Kong; Queen Christina; She Done Him Wrong; The Black Cat; It Happened One Night; The Scarlet Empress; The Thin Man; Twentieth Century; Bride of Frankenstein; Mad Love; A Night at the Opera; Ruggles of Red Gap; Top Hat; Dodsworth; Fury; Modern Times; Mr. Deeds Goes to Town; My Man Godfrey; Rose Hobart; Swing Time; The Awful Truth; Lost Horizon; Make Way for Tomorrow; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; Stage Door; You Only Live Once; The Adventures of Robin Hood; Bringing Up Baby; Holiday; Porky in Wackyland; Gone with the Wind; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Ninotchka; Only Angels Have Wings; Stagecoach; The Wizard of Oz; The Women; Wuthering Heights; Young Mr. Lincoln
Germany: The Blue Angel; M; Vampyr; The Testament of Dr. Mabuse; Triumph of the Will; Olympia
USSR: Earth; Happiness; Alexander Nevsky
France: L’Age d’Or; Under the Roofs of Paris; À Nous la Liberté; La Chienne; Le Million; The Blood of a Poet; Boudu Saved from Drowning; Zero de Conduite; L’Atalante; The Crime of Monsieur Lange; A Day in the Country; Grand Illusion; Pépé le Moko; La Bête Humaine; Le Jour Se Lève; The Rules of the Game
United Kingdom: Rich and Strange; Man of Aran; The Man Who Knew Too Much; The 39 Steps; Secret Agent; Sabotage; Young and Innocent; The Lady Vanishes
Japan: I Was Born, But…; The Only Son; Osaka Elegy; Sisters of the Gion; A Story of Floating Weeds; The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum
Spain: Land Without Bread


20th Century Fox: Young Mr. Lincoln
MGM: Freaks; Queen Christina; The Thin Man; A Night at the Opera; Mad Love; Fury; The Wizard of Oz; Gone with the Wind; Ninotchka; The Women
Paramount: Morocco; Tabu; The Smiling Lieutenant; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Trouble in Paradise; Love Me Tonight; Shanghai Express; Blonde Venus; One Hour with You; Duck Soup; She Done Him Wrong; Design for Living; The Scarlet Empress; Ruggles of Red Gap; Make Way for Tomorrow
RKO: The Most Dangerous Game; King Kong; Top Hat; Swing Time; Stage Door; Bringing Up Baby
Warner Bros.: Doctor X; Gold Diggers of 1933; The Adventures of Robin Hood; Porky in Wackyland
Columbia: It Happened One Night; Twentieth Century; Mr. Deeds Goes to Town; The Awful Truth; Lost Horizon; Holiday; Only Angels Have Wings; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
United Artists: City Lights; Scarface; Modern Times; Dodsworth; You Only Live Once; Stagecoach; Wuthering Heights
Universal: All Quiet on the Western Front; Dracula; Frankenstein; The Invisible Man; The Black Cat; Bride of Frankenstein; My Man Godfrey


Nobody’s perfect, and these are some of the films (among many others) that will need to be addressed in future versions of this project.

Au bonheur des dames (1930, Julien Duvivier)
La Petite Lise (1930, Jean Grémillon)
People on Sunday (1930, Robert Siodmak & Edgar G. Ulmer)
Salt for Svanetia (1930, Mikhail Kalatozov)
The Congress Dances (1931, Erik Charell)
Limite (1931, Mario Peixoto)
Little Caesar (1931, Mervyn LeRoy)
Monkey Business (1931, Norman Z. McLeod)
The Public Enemy (1931, William A. Wellman)
The 3 Penny Opera (1931, Georg Wilhelm Pabst)
Horse Feathers (1932, Norman Z. McLeod)
I by Day, You by Night (1932, Ludwig Berger)
The Red Head (1932, Julien Duvivier)
Apart from You (1933, Mikio Naruse)
The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933, Frank Capra)
The Deserter (1933, Vsevolod Pudovkin)
Dinner at Eight (1933, George Cukor)
42nd Street (1933, Lloyd Bacon)
Japanese Girls at the Harbor (1933, Hiroshi Shimizu)
Liebeli (1933, Max Ophuls)
Life Begins Tomorrow (1933, Werner Hochbaum)
Sons of the Desert (1933, William A. Seiter)
The Gay Divorcee (1934, Mark Sandrich)
The Goddess (1934, Yonggang Wu)
It’s a Gift (1934, Norman Z. McLeod)
La signora di tutti (1934, Max Ophuls)
Maskerade (1934, Willi Frost)
Rapt (1934, Dimitri Kirsanoff)
David Copperfield (1935, George Cukor)
The Devil Is a Woman (1935, Josef von Sternberg)
An Inn in Tokyo (1935, Yasujiro Ozu)
The Little Colonel (1935, David Butler)
The Million Ryo Pot (1935, Sadao Yamanaka)
The Student of Prague (1935, Arthur Robison)
Toni (1935, Jean Renoir)
After the Thin Man (1936, W.S. Van Dyke)
Camille (1936, George Cukor)
Fährmann Maria (1936, Frank Wisbar)
Morning’s Tree-Lined Street (1936, Mikio Naruse)
Mr. Thank You (1936, Hiroshi Shimizu)
A Day at the Races (1937, Sam Wood)
Bizarre, Bizarre (1937, Marcel Carné)
The Edge of the World (1937, Michael Powell)
Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937, Sadao Yamanaka)
Lady Killer (1937, Jean Grémillon)
Topper (1937, Norman Z. McLeod)
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938, Michael Curtiz)
Port of Shadows (1938, Marcel Carné)
Beau Geste (1939, William A. Wellman)
Babes in Arms (1939, Busby Berkeley)
Destry Rides Again (1939, George Marshall)
Gunga Din (1939, George Stevens)
History Is Made at Night (1939, Frank Borzage)
Love Affair (1939, Leo McCarey)
Midnight (1939, Mitchell Leisen)
The Roaring Twenties (1939, Raoul Walsh)


The 1930s filmographies of every filmmaker or actor — as far as I could find — with two or more credits on this list. Not everyone important is represented here but it’s hopefully handy for adding context. Films included in this version of the canon are underlined. These filmographies only include features and (generally) credited work.

Robert Armstrong (actor, 1890-1973): Be Yourself!; Dumbbells in Ermine; Danger Lights; Big Money; Paid (1930); Iron Man; Ex-Bad Boy; The Tip-Off; Suicide Fleet (1931); Panama Flo; The Lost Squadron; Radio Patrol; Is My Face Red?; The Most Dangerous Game; Hold ‘Em Jail; The Penguin Pool Murder (1932); The Billion Dollar Scandal; King Kong; Fast Workers; I Love That Man; Blind Adventure; Above the Clouds; The Son of Kong (1933); Palooka; Search for Beauty; She Made Her Bad; Manhattan Love Song; The Hell Cat; Kansas City Princess; Flirting with Danger (1934); The Mystery Man; Gigolette; Sweet Music; ‘G’ Men; Little Big Shot; Remember Last Night? (1935); Dangerous Waters; The Ex-Mrs. Bradford; Public Enemy’s Wife; All-American Chump; Without Orders (1936); Nobody’s Baby; Three Legionnaires; It Can’t Last Forever; The Girl Said No; She Loved a Fireman (1937); The Night Hawk; There Goes My Heart (1938); The Flying Irishman; Man of Conquest; Unmarried; Winter Carnival; Flight at Midnight; Call a Messenger (1939).

Jean Arthur (actor, 1900-1991): Street of Chance; Young Eagles; Paramount on Parade; The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu; Danger Lights; The Silver Horde (1930); The Gang Buster; The Virtuous Husband; The Lawyer’s Secret; Ex-Bad Boy (1931); The Past of Mary Holmes; Get That Venus (1933); Whirlpool; Most Precious Things in Life; The Defense Rests (1934); The Whole Town’s Talking; Party Wire; Public Hero Number 1; Diamond Jim; The Public Menace; If You Could Only Cook (1935); Mr. Deeds Goes to Town; The Ex-Mrs. Bradford; Adventure in Manhattan; The Plainsman; More Than a Secretary (1936); History Is Made at Night; Easy Living (1937); You Can’t Take It with You (1938); Only Angels Have Wings; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).

Frank Astaire (actor, 1899-1987): Dancing Lady; Flying Down to Rio (1933); The Gay Divorcee (1934); Roberta; Top Hat (1935); Follow the Fleet; Swing Time (1936); Shall We Dance; A Damsel in Distress (1937); Carefree (1938); The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939).

Lew Ayres (actor, 1908-1996): All Quiet on the Western Front; Common Clay; The Doorway to Hell; East Is West (1930); Many a Slip; Iron Man; Up for Murder; The Spirit of Notre Dame; Heaven on Earth (1931); The Impatient Maiden; The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood; Night World; Okay America! (1932); State Fair; Don’t Bet on Love; My Weakness (1933); Cross Country Cruise; Let’s Be Ritzy; She Learned About Sailors; Servants’ Entrance (1934); The Lottery Lover; Spring Tonic; Silk Hat Kid (1935); The Leathernecks Have Landed; Panic on the Air; Shakedown; Lady Be Careful; Murder with Pictures (1936); The Crime Nobody Saw; The Last Train from Madrid; Hold ‘Em Navy (1937); Scandal Street; King of the Newsboys; Holiday; Rich Man, Poor Girl; Young Dr. Kildare; Spring Madness (1938); The Ice Follies of 1939; Broadway Serenade; Calling Dr. Kildare; These Glamour Girls; The Secret of Dr. Kildare; Remember? (1939).

Leslie Banks (actor, 1890-1952): The Most Dangerous Game (1932); Strange Evidence; I Am Suzanne! (1933); The Fire Raisers; Strike!; The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934); Sanders of the River; The Murder Party; Transatlantic Tunnel (1935); Debt of Honour; The Show Goes On (1936); Wings of the Morning; Fire Over England; Troopship (1937); Jamaica Inn; The Arsenal Stadium Mystery; Sons of the Sea (1939).

Jules Berry (actor, 1883-1951): Mon coeur et ses millions (1931); Quick; King of Hotels (1932); Un petit trou pas cher; Arlette et ses papas; Une femme chipée (1934); Jeunes filles à marier; Et moi, j’te dis qu’elle t’a fait de l’oeil; Touche-à-Tout; Baccara (1935); The Crime of Monsieur Lange; Une poule sur un mur; Disk 413; Les loups entre eux; Rigolboche; 27 rue de la Paix; Le mort en fuite; Adventure in Paris; Monsieur Personne (1936); Traffic in Souls; A Man to Kill; La Bête aux sept manteaux; Champs-Elysees; Arsene Lupin, Detective; Le club des aristocrates; Les rois du sport; L’habit vert; A Picnic on the Grass; Balthazar (1937); Les deux combinards; The West; My Father and My Daddy; Hercule; The Woman Thief; Clodoche; L’avion de minuit; Café de Paris; Carrefour; Accord final; The Woman of Monte Carlo (1938); Eusèbe député; Derrière la façade; Cas de conscience; Son oncle de Normandie; Le Jour se Leve; La famille Duraton (1939).

Mary Boland (actor, 1882-1965): Secrets of a Secretary; Personal Maid (1931); The Night of June 13; Evenings for Sale; If I Had a Million (1932); Mama Loves Papa; Three Cornered Moon; The Solitaire Man (1933); Four Frightened People; Six of a Kind; Melody in Spring; Stingaree; Here Comes the Groom; Down to Their Last Yacht; The Pursuit of Happiness (1934); Ruggles of Red Gap; People Will Talk; Two for Tonight; The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935); Early to Bed; A Son Comes Home; Wives Never Know; College Holiday (1936); Marry the Girl; Danger – Love at Work; There Goes the Groom; Mama Runs Wild (1937); Little Tough Guys in Society; Artists and Models Abroad (1938); Boy Trouble; The Magnificent Fraud; Night Work; The Women (1939).

Alice Brady (actor, 1892-1939): When Ladies Meet; Broadway to Hollywood; Beauty for Sale; Stage Mother; Should Ladies Behave (1933); Miss Fane’s Baby is Stolen; The Gay Divorcee (1934); Gold Diggers of 1935; Let ‘Em Have It; Lady Tubbs; Metropolitan (1935); The Harvester; My Man Godfrey; Go West Young Man; Mind Your Own Business; Three Smart Girls (1936); Mama Steps Out; Call It a Day; Mr. Dodd Takes the Air; One Hundred Men and a Girl; Merry-Go-Round of 1938; In Old Chicago (1937); Goodbye Broadway; Joy of Living (1938); Zenobia; Young Mr. Lincoln (1939).

Tod Browning (director, 1880-1962): Outside the Law; (1930); Dracula; Iron Man (1931); Freaks (1932); Fast Workers (1933); Mark of the Vampire (1935); The Devil-Doll (1936); Miracles for Sale (1939).

Luis Buñuel (director, 1900-1983): L’Age d’Or (1930); [Land without Bread (short, 1933)]. (Two other films as co-director.)

Bruce Cabot (actor, 1904-1972): The Roadhouse Murder (1932); Lucky Devils; The Great Jasper; King Kong; Disgraced; Flying Devils; Midshipman Jack; Ann Vickers; Shadows of Sing Sing (1933); Finishing School; Murder on the Blackboard; His Greatest Gamble; Their Big Moment; Redhead; Men of the Night; Night Alarm (1934); Without Children; Let ‘Em Have It; Show Them No Mercy! (1935); Don’t Gamble with Love; Robin Hood of El Dorado; The 3 Wise Guys; Fury; The Last of the Mohicans; Don’t Turn ‘Em Loose; The Big Game; Legion of Terror; Sinner Take All (1936); Bad Guy; Love Takes Flight; The Bad Man of Brimstone (1937); Sinners in Paradise; Smashing the Rackets; 10th Ave Kid (1938); Homicide Bureau; Mystery of the White Room; Dodge City; Mickey the Kid; The Torso Murder Mystery; My Son Is Guilty (1939).

Frank Capra (director, 1897-1991): Ladies of Leisure; Rain or Shine (1930); Dirigible; The Miracle Woman; Platinum Blonde (1931); Forbidden; American Madness; The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932); Lady for a Day (1933); It Happened One Night; Broadway Bill (1934); Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936); Lost Horizon (1937); You Can’t Take It with You (1938); Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).

Madeleine Carroll (actor, 1906-1987): The W Plan; L’instinct; Young Woodley; French Leave; Escape!; School for Scandal; Kissing Cup’s Race (1930); Madame Guillotine; Fascination; The Written Law (1931); Sleeping Car; I Was a Spy (1933); The World Moves On (1934); Loves of a Dictator; The 39 Steps (1935); Secret Agent; The Case Against Mrs. Ames; The General Died at Dawn; Lloyd’s of London (1936); On the Avenue; It’s All Yours; The Prisoner of Zenda (1937); Blockade (1938); Cafe Society; Honeymoon in Bali (1939).

Charles Chaplin (director/actor, 1889-1977): City Lights (1931); Modern Times (1936).

Maurice Chevalier (actor, 1888-1972): Paramount on Parade; The Big Pond; Playboy of Paris (1930); The Smiling Lieutenant (1931); One Hour with You; Love Me Tonight (1932); A Bedtime Story; The Way to Love (1933); The Merry Widow (1934); Folies Bergère de Paris (1935); The Beloved Vagabond; With a Smile (1936); The Man of the Hour (1937); Break the News (1938); Personal Column (1939).

René Clair (director, 1898-1981): Under the Roofs of Paris (1930); Le Million; À Nous la Liberté (1931); July 14 (1933); The Last Billionaire (1934); The Ghost Goes West (1935); Break the News (1938).

Colin Clive (actor, 1900-1937): Journey’s End (1930); Frankenstein; The Stronger Sex (1931); Lily Christine (1932); Christopher Strong; Looking Forward (1933); The Key; One More River; Jane Eyre (1934); Clive of India; The Right to Live; Bride of Frankenstein; The Girl from 10th Avenue; Mad Love; The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo; The Widow from Monte Carlo (1935); History is Made at Night; The Woman I Love (1937).

Claudette Colbert (actor, 1903-1996): Young Man of Manhattan; The Big Pond; Manslaughter; L’énigmatique Monsieur Parkes (1930); Honor Among Lovers; The Smiling Lieutenant; Secrets of a Secretary; His Woman (1931); The Wiser Sex; The Misleading Lady; The Man from Yesterday; The Phantom President; The Sign of the Cross (1932); Tonight Is Ours; I Cover the Waterfront; Three Cornered Moon; Torch Singer (1933); Four Frightened People; It Happened One Night; Imitation of Life; Cleopatra (1934); The Gilded Lily; Private Worlds; She Married Her Boss; The Bride Comes Home (1935); Under Two Flags (1936); Maid of Salem; I Met Him in Paris; Tovarich (1937); Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife; Zaza (1938); Midnight; It’s a Wonderful World; Drums Along the Mohawk (1939).

Walter Connolly (actor, 1887-1940): Washington Merry-Go-Round; Man Against Woman; No More Orchids; The Bitter Tea of General Yen; Plainsclothes Man (1932); Paddy the Next Big Thing; Lady for a Day; Man’s Castle; Master of Men; East of Fifth Avenue (1933); It Happened One Night; Once to Every Woman; Twentieth Century; Whom the Gods Destroy; Servants’ Entrance; Lady by Choice; The Captain Hates the Sea; Broadway Bill; Father Brown, Detective (1934); So Red the Rose; She Couldn’t Take It; One-Way Ticket; White Lies (1935); Soak the Rich; The Music Goes ‘Round; The King Steps Out; Libeled Lady (1936); The Good Earth; Nancy Steele Is Missing!; Let’s Get Married; The League of Frightened Men; Nothing Sacred; First Lady (1937); Penitentiary; Start Cheering; Four’s a Crowd; Too Hot to Handle; The Girl Downstairs (1938); The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Bridal Suite; Good Girls Go to Paris; Coast Guard; 5th Ave Girl; Those High Gray Walls; The Great Victor Herbert (1939).

Gary Cooper (actor, 1901-1961): Seven Days Leave; Only the Brave; Paramount on Parade; The Texan; A Man from Wyoming; The Spoilers; Morocco (1930); Fighting Caravans; City Streets; I Take This Woman; His Woman (1931); Devil and the Deep; If I Had a Million; A Farewell to Arms (1932); Today We Live; One Sunday Afternoon; Design for Living; Alice in Wonderland (1933); Operator 13; Now and Forever (1934); The Lives of a Bengal Lancer; The Wedding Night; Peter Ibbetson (1935); Desire; Mr. Deeds Goes to Town; The General Died at Dawn; The Plainsman (1936); Souls at Sea (1937); Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife; The Adventures of Marco Polo; The Cowboy and the Lady (1938); Beau Geste; The Real Glory (1939).

George Cukor (director, 1899-1983): Grumpy; The Virtuous Sin; The Royal Family of Broadway (1930); Tarnished Lady; Girls About Town (1931); What Price Hollywood?; A Bill of Divorcement; Rockabye (1932); Our Betters; Dinner at Eight; Little Women (1933); David Copperfield; Sylvia Scarlett (1935); Romeo and Juliet; Camille (1936); Holiday; Zaza (1938); The Women (1939). (Note: Cukor also did uncredited work on Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, responsible for a good deal of the former’s most iconic imagery; and he was the original director of Lubitsch’s One Hour with You before being fired from the project.)

Michael Curtiz (director, 1888-1962): Mammy; Under a Texas Moon; The Matrimonial Bed; Bright Lights; River’s End; A Soldier’s Plaything (1930); Dämon des Meeres; God’s Gift to Women; The Mad Genius (1931); The Woman from Monte Carlo; Alias the Doctor; The Strange Love of Molly Louvain; Doctor X; The Cabin in the Cotton; 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932); Mystery of the Wax Museum; The Keyhole; Private Detective 62; Goodbye Again; The Kennel Murder Case; Female (1933); Mandalay; Jimmy the Gent; The Key; British Agent (1934); Black Fury; The Case of the Curious Bride; Front Page Woman; Little Big Shot; Captain Blood (1935); The Walking Dead; The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936); Stolen Holiday; Mountain Justice; Kid Galahad; The Perfect Specimen (1937); Gold Is Where You Find It; The Adventures of Robin Hood; Four’s a Crowd; Four Daughters; Angels with Dirty Faces (1938); Dodge City; Daughters Courageous; The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex; Four Wives (1939).

Marcel Dalio (actor, 1899-1983): Olive passager clandestin (1931); The Night at the Hotel (1932); Turandot, princesse de Chine; Return to Paradise (1935); Quand minuit sonnera; The Life and Loves of Beethoven (1936); Pépé le Moko; Traffic in Souls; A Man to Kill; Marthe Richard; The Pearls of the Crown; Grand Illusion; Sarati the Terrible; The Kiss of Fire; Miarka (1937); Les pirates du rail; Hatred; Chéri-Bibi; Sirocco; The Curtain Rises; Conflit (1938); Pasha’s Wives; Midnight Tradition; The Rules of the Game; Sacred Woods (1939).

Olivia de Havilland (actor, 1916-): Alibi Ike; The Irish in Us; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Captain Blood (1935); Anthony Adverse; The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936); Call It a Day; It’s Love I’m After; The Great Garrick (1937); Gold Is Where You Find It; The Adventures of Robin Hood; Four’s a Crowd; Hard to Get (1938); Wings of the Navy; Dodge City; The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex; Raffles; Gone with the Wind (1939).

Marlene Dietrich (actor, 1901-1992): Dangers of the Engagement; The Blue Angel; Morocco (1930); Dishonored (1931); Shanghai Express; Blonde Venus (1932); The Song of Songs (1933); The Scarlet Empress (1934); The Devil Is a Woman (1935); Desire; The Garden of Allah; I Loved a Soldier (1936); Knight Without Armor; Angel (1937); Destry Rides Again (1939).

Victor Fleming (director, 1889-1949): Common Clay; Renegades (1930); Around the World with Douglas Fairbanks (1931); The Wet Parade; Red Dust (1932); The White Sister; Bombshell (1933); Treasure Island (1934); Reckless; The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935); Captains Courageous (1937); Test Pilot (1938); The Wizard of Oz; Gone with the Wind (1939).

Henry Fonda (actor, 1905-1982): The Farmer Takes a Wife; Way Down East; I Dream Too Much (1935); The Trail of the Lonesome Pine; The Moon’s Our Home; Spendthrift (1936); Wings of the Morning; You Only Live Once; Slim; That Certain Woman (1937); I Met My Love Again; Jezebel; Blockade; Spawn of the North; The Mad Miss Manton (1938); Jesse James; Let Us Live; The Story of Alexander Graham Bell; Young Mr. Lincoln; Drums Along the Mohawk (1939).

John Ford (director, 1894-1973): Men Without Women; Born Reckless; Up the River (1930); Seas Beneath; The Brat; Arrowsmith (1931); Air Mail; Flesh (1932); Pilgrimage; Doctor Bull (1933); The Lost Patrol; The World Moves On; Judge Priest (1934); The Whole Town’s Talking; The Informer; Steamboat Round the Bend (1935); The Prisoner of Shark Island; Mary of Scotland; The Plough and the Stars (1936); Wee Willie Winkie; The Hurricane (1937); Four Men and a Prayer; Submarine Patrol (1938); Stagecoach; Young Mr. Lincoln; Drums Along the Mohawk (1939).

Dwight Frye (actor, 1899-1943): The Doorway to Hell; Man to Man (1930); Dracula; The Maltese Falcon; Frankenstein (1931); Attorney for the Defense; By Whose Hand?; The Western Code; A Strange Adventure (1932); The Vampire Bat; The Circus Queen Murder (1933); Bride of Frankenstein; Atlantic Adventure; The Crime of Doctor Crespi (1935); Florida Special; Alibi for Murder; Beware of Ladies (1936); The Man Who Found Himself; Something to Sing About; The Shadow (1937); Who Killed Gail Preston?; Invisible Enemy; Fast Company; The Night Hawk; Adventure in Sahara (1938).

Jean Gabin (actor, 1904-1976): Chacun sa chance (1930); Méphisto; The Darling of Paris; Tout ça ne vaut pas l’amour; Gloria; Pour un soir..! (1931); Lilac; Les gaîtés de l’escadron; La foule hurle; La belle marinière; Coeurs joyeux (1932); L’étoile de Valencia; Adieu les beaux jours; High and Low; Le tunnel (1933); Maria Chapdelaine; Zouzou (1934); Behold the Man; La bandera; Variétés (1935); They Were Five; The Lower Depths (1936); Pépé le Moko; Grand Illusion; The Messenger; Lady Killer (1937); Port of Shadows; La Bête humaine (1938); Coral Reefs; Le Jour se Leve (1939).

Clark Gable (actor, 1901-1960): The Painted Desert; The Easiest Way; Dance, Fools, Dance; The Finger Points; The Secret 6; Laughing Sinners; A Free Soul; Night Nurse; Sporting Blood; Susan Lenox; Hell Divers; Possessed (1931); Polly of the Circus; Strange Interlude; Red Dust; No Man of Her Own (1932); The White Sister; Hold Your Man; Night Flight; Dancing Lady (1933); It Happened One Night; Men in White; Manhattan Melodrama; Chained; Forsaking All Others (1934); After Office Hours; China Seas; Call of the Wild; Mutiny on the Bounty (1935); Wife vs. Secretary; San Francisco; Cain and Mabel; Love on the Run (1936); Parnell; Saratoga (1937); Test Pilot; Too Hot to Handle (1938); Idiot’s Delight; Gone with the Wind (1939).

Greta Garbo (actor, 1905-1990): Anna Christie; Romance (1930); Inspiration; Susan Lenox; Mata Hari (1931); Grand Hotel; As You Desire Me (1932); Queen Christina (1933); The Painted Veil (1934); Anna Karenina (1935); Camille (1936); Conquest (1937); Ninotchka (1939).

Paulette Goddard (actor, 1910-1990): The Girl Habit (1931); Modern Times (1936); The Young in Heart; Dramatic School (1938); The Women; The Cat and the Canary (1939).

Cary Grant (actor, 1904-1986): This Is the Night; Sinners in the Sun; Merrily We Go to Hell; Devil and the Deep; Blonde Venus; Hot Saturday; Madame Butterfly (1932); She Done Him Wrong; The Woman Accused; The Eagle and the Hawk; Gambling Ship; I’m No Angel; Alice in Wonderland (1933); Thirty Day Princess; Born to Be Bad; Kiss and Make-Up; Ladies Should Listen (1934); Enter Madame!; Wings in the Dark; The Last Outpost; Sylvia Scarlett (1935); Big Brown Eyes; Suzy; The Amazing Adventure; Wedding Present (1936); When You’re in Love; Topper; The Toast of New York; The Awful Truth (1937); Bringing Up Baby; Holiday (1938); Gunga Din; Only Angels Have Wings; In Name Only (1939).

Porter Hall (actor, 1888-1953): The Thin Man; Murder in the Private Car (1934); The Case of the Lucky Legs (1935); The Petrified Forest; The Story of Louis Pasteur; Too Many Parents; Snowed Under; The Princess Comes Across; And Sudden Death; Satan Met a Lady; The General Died at Dawn; The Plainsman; Let’s Make a Million (1936); Bulldog Drummond Escapes; King of Gamblers; Make Way for Tomorrow; Hotel Haywire; Wild Money; Souls at Sea; This Way Please; True Confession; Wells Fargo (1937); Scandal Street; Dangerous to Know; Bulldog Drummond’s Peril; Stolen Heaven; Prison Farm; Men with Wings; King of Alcatraz; The Arkansas Traveler; Tom Sawyer, Detective (1938); Grand Jury Secrets; They Shall Have Music; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).

Margaret Hamilton (actor, 1902-1985): Another Language (1933); Hat, Coat, and Glove; There’s Always Tomorrow; By Your Leave; Broadway Bill (1934); The Farmer Takes a Wife; Way Down East (1935); Chatterbox; These Three; The Moon’s Our Home; The Witness Chair; Laughing at Trouble (1936); You Only Live Once; When’s Your Birthday?; Good Old Soak; Mountain Justice; I’ll Take Romance; Nothing Sacred (1937); The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; A Slight Case of Murder; Mother Carey’s Chickens; Four’s a Crowd; Breaking the Ice; Stablemates (1938); The Wizard of Oz; Angels Wash Their Faces; Babes in Arms; Main Street Lawyer (1939).

Howard Hawks (director, 1896-1977): The Dawn Patrol (1930); The Criminal Code (1931); Scarface; The Crowd Roars; Tiger Shark (1932); Today We Live (1933); Twentieth Century (1934); Barbary Coast (1935); Ceiling Zero; The Road to Glory; Come and Get It (1936); Bringing Up Baby (1938); Only Angels Have Wings (1939).

Katharine Hepburn (actor, 1907-2003): A Bill of Divorcement (1932); Christopher Strong; Morning Glory; Little Women (1933); Spitfire; The Little Minister (1934); Break of Hearts; Alice Adams; Sylvia Scarlett (1935); Mary of Scotland; A Woman Rebels (1936); Quality Street; Stage Door (1937); Bringing Up Baby; Holiday (1938).

Alfred Hitchcock (director, 1899-1980): Juno and the Paycock; Murder! (1930); The Skin Game; Rich and Strange (1931); Number Seventeen (1932); Waltzes from Vienna; The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934); The 39 Steps (1935); Secret Agent; Sabotage (1936); Young and Innocent (1937); The Lady Vanishes (1938); Jamaica Inn (1939).

Miriam Hopkins (actor, 1902-1972): Fast and Loose (1930); The Smiling Lieutenant; 24 Hours; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931); Two Kinds of Women; Dancers in the Dark; World and the Flesh; Trouble in Paradise (1932); The Story of Temple Drake; The Stranger’s Return; Design for Living (1933); All of Me; She Loves Me Not; The Richest Girl in the World (1934); Becky Sharp; Barbary Coast; Splendor (1935); These Three; Men Are Not Gods (1936); The Woman I Love; Woman Chases Man; Wise Girl (1937); The Old Maid (1939).

Edward Everett Horton (actor, 1886-1970): Take the Heir; Wide Open; Holiday; Once a Gentleman; Reaching for the Moon (1930); Kiss Me Again; Lonely Wives; The Front Page; 6 Cylinder Love; Smart Woman; The Age for Love (1931); -But the Flesh Is Weak; Roar of the Dragon; Trouble in Paradise (1932); The Woman in Command; A Bedtime Story; It’s a Boy; The Way to Love; Design for Living; Alice in Wonderland (1933); Easy to Love; The Poor Rich; Success at Any Price; Uncertain Lady; Sing and Like It; Smarty; Kiss and Make-Up; Ladies Should Listen; The Merry Widow; The Gay Divorcee (1934); Biography of a Bachelor Girl; The Night Is Young; All the King’s Horses; The Devil Is a Woman; $10 Raise; In Caliente; Going Highbrow; Top Hat; The Private Secretary; Little Big Shot; His Night Out; Your Uncle Dudley (1935); Her Master’s Voice; The Singing Kid; Nobody’s Fool; Hearts Divided; The Man in the Mirror; Let’s Make a Million (1936); Lost Horizon; The King and the Chorus Girl; Oh, Doctor; Shall We Dance; Wild Money; Danger – Love at Work; Angel; The Perfect Specimen; The Great Garrick; Hitting a New High (1937); Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife; College Swing; Holiday; Little Tough Guys in Society (1938); Paris Honeymoon; The Amazing Mr. Forrest; That’s Right – You’re Wrong (1939).

Sam Jaffe (actor, 1891-1984): The Scarlet Empress; We Live Again (1934); Lost Horizon (1937); Gunga Din (1939).

Boris Karloff (actor, 1887-1969): The Bad One; The Sea Bat; The Utah Kid (1930); The Criminal Code; King of the Wild; Cracked Nuts; Young Donovan’s Kid; The Public Defender; Five Star Final; I Like Your Nerve; Graft; The Guilty Generation; Frankenstein; Tonight or Never (1931); Behind the Mask; The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood; Scarface; The Miracle Man; Night World; The Old Dark House; The Mask of Fu Manchu; The Mummy (1932); The Ghoul (1933); The Lost Patrol; The House of Rothschild; The Black Cat; Gift of Gab (1934); Bride of Frankenstein; The Raven; The Black Room (1935); The Invisible Ray; The Walking Dead; Juggernaut; The Man Who Lived Again; Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936); Night Key; West of Shanghai (1937); The Invisible Menace; Mr. Wong, Detective (1938); Devil’s Island; Son of Frankenstein; The Mystery of Mr. Wong; Mr. Wong in Chinatown; The Man They Could Not Hang; Tower of London (1939).

Gregory La Cava (director, 1892-1952): Laugh and Get Rich; Smart Woman (1931); Symphony of Six Million; The Age of Consent; The Half Naked Truth (1932); Gabriel Over the White House; Bed of Roses; Gallant Lady (1933); The Affairs of Cellini; What Every Woman Knows (1934); Private Worlds; She Married Her Boss (1935); My Man Godfrey (1936); Stage Door (1937); 5th Ave Girl (1939).

Fritz Lang (director, 1890-1976): M (1931); The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933); Liliom (1934); Fury (1936); You Only Live Once (1937); You and Me (1938).

René Lefèvre (actor, 1898-1991): Rapacité; The Stream; The Road to Paradise; Les deux mondes (1930); Mon ami Victor; Le Million; Jean de la Lune; Moon Over Morocco; On opère sans douleur (1931); Un chien qui rapporte; Seul; Monsieur, Madame et Bibi; Orange Blossom; Sa meilleure cliente; L’âne de Buridan (1932); Paprika (1933); An Ideal Woman; Les deux canards; L’amour en cage (1934); Les époux scandaleux; Vogue, mon coeur (1935); The Crime of Monsieur Lange; Le coup de trois (1936); Trois… six… neuf; Mes tantes et moi; Le choc en retour; Lady Killer (1937); Nuits de princes; La piste du sud; Sommes-nous défendus? (1938); Place de la Concorde; Feux de joie; Petite peste (1939).

Carole Lombard (actor, 1908-1942): The Arizona Kid; Safety in Numbers; Fast and Loose (1930); It Pays to Advertise; Man of the World; Ladies’ Man; Up Pops the Devil; I Take This Woman (1931); No One Man; Sinners in the Sun; Virtue; No More Orchids; No Man of Her Own (1932); From Hell to Heaven; Supernatural; The Eagle and the Hawk; Brief Moment; White Woman (1933); Bolero; We’re Not Dressing; Twentieth Century; Now and Forever; Lady by Choice; The Gay Bride (1934); Rumba; Hands Across the Table (1935); Love Before Breakfast; The Princess Comes Across; My Man Godfrey (1936); Swing High, Swing Low; Nothing Sacred; True Confession (1937); Fools for Scandal (1938); Made for Each Other; In Name Only (1939).

Peter Lorre (actor, 1904-1964): The White Devil (1930); M; Bombs Over Monte Carlo; Die Koffer des Herrn O.F.; A Man’s a Man (1931); Fünf von der Jazzband; Schuß im Morgengrauen; Dope; Stupéfiants; F.P.1 Doesn’t Answer (1932); Was Frauen träumen; Les requins du pétrole; Unsichtbare Gegner; High and Low (1933); The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934); Mad Love; Crime and Punishment (1935); Secret Agent; Crack-Up (1936); Nancy Steele Is Missing!; Think Fast, Mr. Moto; Lancer Spy; Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937); Mr. Moto’s Gamble; Mr. Moto Takes a Chance; I’ll Give a Million; Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938); Mr. Moto’s Last Warning; Mr. Moto in Danger Island; Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939).

Myrna Loy (actor, 1905-1993): Cameo Kirby; Isle of Escape; Under a Texas Moon; Cock o’ the Walk; Bride of the Regiment; The Last of the Duanes; The Jazz Cinderella; The Bad Man; Renegades; The Truth About Youth; Rogue of the Rio Grande; The Devil to Pay! (1930); The Naughty Flirt; Body and Soul; A Connecticut Yankee; Hush Money; Rebound; Transatlantic; Skyline; Consolation Marriage; Arrowsmith (1931); Emma; Vanity Fair; The Wet Parade; The Woman in Room 13; New Morals for Old; Love Me Tonight; Thirteen Women; The Mask of Fu Manchu; The Animal Kingdom (1932); Topaze; The Barbarian; When Ladies Meet; Penthouse; Night Flight; The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933); Men in White; Manhattan Melodrama; The Thin Man; Stamboul Quest; Evelyn Prentice; Broadway Bill (1934); Wings in the Dark; Whipshaw (1935); Wife vs. Secretary; Petticoat Fever; The Great Ziegfeld; To Mary – With Love; Libeled Lady; After the Thin Man (1936); Parnell; Double Wedding (1937); Man-Proof; Test Pilot; Too Hot to Handle (1938); Lucky Night; The Rains Came; Another Thin Man (1939).

Ernst Lubitsch (director, 1892-1947): Monte Carlo (1930); The Smiling Lieutenant (1931); Broken Lullaby; One Hour with You; Trouble in Paradise (1932); Design for Living (1933); The Merry Widow (1934); Angel (1937); Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938); Ninotchka (1939).

Bela Lugosi (actor, 1882-1956): Such Men Are Dangerous; Wild Company; Renegades; Oh, for a Man! (1930); Dracula; The Black Camel; Broadminded (1931); Murders in the Rue Morgue; White Zombie; Chandu the Magician; Island of Lost Souls; The Death Kiss (1932); The Whispering Shadow; Night of Terror; International House (1933); The Black Cat; Gift of Gab; The Return of Chandu; The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934); The Best Man Wins; Mark of the Vampire; The Raven; Chandu on the Magic Island; Murder by Television; Phantom Ship (1935); The Invisible Ray; Postal Inspector; Shadow of Chinatown (1936); SOS Coast Guard (1937); Son of Frankenstein; The Gorilla; The Phantom Creeps; The Human Monster; Ninotchka (1939).

Paul Lukas (actor, 1894-1971): Behind the Make-Up; Slightly Scarlet; Young Eagles; The Benson Murder Case; The Devil’s Holiday; Grumpy; Anybody’s Woman; The Right to Love (1930); Unfaithful; City Streets; The Vice Squad; Women Love Once; Beloved Bachelor; Working Girls; Strictly Dishonorable (1931); No One Man; Tomorrow and Tomorrow; Thunder Below; Downstairs; A Passport to Hell; Rockabye (1932); Grand Slam; The Kiss Before the Mirror; Secret of the Blue Room; Sing Sinner Sing; Captured!; Little Women; By Candlelight (1933); The Countess of Monte Cristo; Glamour; Affairs of a Gentleman; I Give My Love; The Fountain; Gift of Gab; Father Brown, Detective (1934); The Casino Murder Case; Age of Indiscretion; The Three Musketeers; I Found Stella Parish (1935); Dodsworth; Ladies in Love (1936); Espionage; Dangerous Secrets; Mutiny on the Elsinore; Dinner at the Ritz (1937); The Lady Vanishes (1938); Confessions of a Nazi Spy; Captain Fury (1939).

Jeanette MacDonald (actor, 1903-1965): The Vagabond King; Let’s Go Native; Monte Carlo; The Lottery Bride; Oh, for a Man! (1930); Don’t Bet on Women; Annabelle’s Affairs (1931); One Hour with You; Love Me Tonight (1932); The Cat and the Fiddle; The Merry Widow (1934); Naughty Marietta (1935); Rose-Marie; San Francisco (1936); Maytime; The Firefly (1937); The Girl of the Golden West; Sweethearts (1938); Broadway Serenade (1939).

Rouben Mamoulian (director, 1897-1987): City Streets; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931); Love Me Tonight (1932); The Song of Songs; Queen Christina (1933); We Live Again (1934); Becky Sharp (1935); The Gay Desperado (1936); High, Wide and Handsome (1937); Golden Boy (1939).

Fredric March (actor, 1897-1975): Sarah and Son; Paramount on Parade; Ladies Love Brutes; True to the Navy; Manslaughter; Laughter; The Royal Family of Broadway (1930); Honor Among Lovers; Night Angel; My Sin; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931); Strangers in Love; Merrily We Go to Hell; Smilin’ Through; The Sign of the Cross (1932); Tonight Is Ours; The Eagle and the Hawk; Design for Living (1933); All of Me; Good Dame; Death Takes a Holiday; The Affairs of Cellini; The Barretts of Wimpole Street; We Live Again (1934); Les Misérables; Anna Karenina; The Dark Angel (1935); The Road to Glory; Mary of Scotland; Anthony Adverse (1936); A Star Is Born; Nothing Sacred (1937); The Buccaneer; There Goes My Heart; Trade Winds (1938).

Percy Marmont (actor, 1883-1977): The Squeaker; Cross Roads (1930); The Loves of Ariane; The Written Law; East of Shanghai (1931); The Silver Greyhound; Blind Spot; Say It with Music (1932); Her Imaginary Lover (1933); The White Lilac; Vanity (1935); Secret Agent; The Captain’s Table; David Livingstone (1936); Action for Slander; Young and Innocent (1937).

Herbert Marshall (actor, 1890-1966): Murder! (1930); Secrets of a Secretary; Bachelor’s Folly; Michael and Mary (1931); Faithful Hearts; Blonde Venus; Trouble in Paradise; Evenings for Sale (1932); I Was a Spy; The Solitaire Man (1933); Four Frightened People; Riptide; Outcast Lady; The Painted Veil (1934); The Good Fairy; The Flame Within; Accent on Youth; The Dark Angel; If You Could Only Cook (1935); The Lady Consents; Till We Meet Again; Forgotten Faces; Girls’ Dormitory; A Woman Rebels; Make Way for a Lady (1936); Angel; Breakfast for Two (1937); Mad About Music; Woman Against Woman; Always Goodbye; Zaza (1938).

Groucho Marx (actor, 1890-1977) / Harpo Marx (actor, 1888-1964) / Chico Marx (actor, 1887-1961): Animal Crackers (1930); Monkey Business (1931); Horse Feathers (1932); Duck Soup (1933); A Night at the Opera (1935); A Day at the Races (1937); Room Service (1938); At the Circus (1939).

Leo McCarey (director, 1898-1969): Wild Company; Let’s Go Native; Part Time Wife (1930); Indiscreet (1931); The Kid from Spain (1932); Duck Soup (1933); Six of a Kind; Belle of the Nineties (1934); Ruggles of Red Gap (1935); The Milky Way (1936); Make Way for Tomorrow; The Awful Truth (1937); Love Affair (1939).

Adolphe Menjou (actor, 1890-1963): Soyons gais; Mon gosse de père; Amor audaz; L’énigmatique Monsieur Parkes; Morocco; New Moon (1930); The Easiest Way; Men Call It Love; The Front Page; The Great Lover; The Parisian; Friends and Lovers (1931); Forbidden; Prestige; Wives Beware; Bachelor’s Affairs; Blame the Woman; The Night Club Lady; A Farewell to Arms (1932); The Circus Queen Murder; Morning Glory; The Worst Woman in Paris?; Convention City (1933); Easy to Love; Journal of a Crime; The Trumpet Blows; Little Miss Marker; The Great Flirtation; The Human Side; The Mighty Barnum (1934); Gold Diggers of 1935; Broadway Gondolier (1935); The Milky Way; Sing, Baby, Sing; Wives Never Know; One in a Million (1936); A Star Is Born; Café Metropole; One Hundred Men and a Girl; Stage Door (1937); The Goldwyn Follies; Letter of Introduction; Thanks for Everything (1938); King of the Turf; Golden Boy; The Housekeeper’s Daughter; That’s Right – You’re Wrong (1939).

Thomas Mitchell (actor, 1892-1962): Craig’s Wife; Adventure in Manhattan; Theodora Goes Wild (1936); Man of the People; When You’re in Love; Lost Horizon; I Promise to Pay; Make Way for Tomorrow; The Hurricane (1937); Love, Honor and Behave; Trade Winds (1938); Stagecoach; Only Angels Have Wings; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Gone with the Wind; The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939).

Kenji Mizoguchi (director, 1898-1956): Fujiwara Yoshie no furusato; Tôjin Okichi (1930); Shikamo karera wa yuku (1931); Toki no ujigami; The Dawn of Mongolia (1932); Taki no shiraito; Gion matsuri (1933); Jinpu-ren; Aizô tôge (1934); The Downfall; Maria no Oyuki; Poppy (1935); Osaka Elegy; Sisters of the Gion (1936); The Straits of Love and Hate (1937); Roei no uta; Aa kokyo (1938); The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939).

Gaston Modot (actor, 1887-1970): Phantome des Glücks; Der Erzieher meiner Tochter; Freiheit in Fesseln; Under the Roofs of Paris; L’Age d’Or; Conte cruel (1930); Autour d’une enquête; L’opéra de quat’sous; L’ensorcellement de Séville (1931); Under the Leather Helmet; Fantômas; Coup de feu à l’aube (1932); The 1002nd Night; Colomba; Plein aux as; Quelqu’un a tué… (1933); Crainquebille; L’auberge du Petit-Dragon; Les chaînes (1934); Le billet de mille; Le clown Bux; Le mystère Imberger; La bandera; Lucrezia Borgia (1935); Les gaîtés de la finance (1936); Pépé le Moko; Traffic in Souls; Les réprouvés; Street of Shadows; Grand Illusion (1937); The Time of the Cherries; La Marseillaise; Ceux de demain; Sirocco (1938); Coral Reefs; La fin du jour; The Rules of the Game (1939).

Victor Moore (actor, 1876-1962): Dangerous Nan McGrew; Heads Up (1930); Romance in the Rain; Gift of Gab (1934); Swing Time; Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936); We’re on the Jury; Make Way for Tomorrow; Meet the Missus; The Life of the Party; She’s Got Everything (1937); Radio City Revels; This Marriage Business (1938).

David Niven (actor, 1910-1983): Without Regret; A Feather in Her Hat; Splendor (1935); Rose-Marie; Palm Springs; Dodsworth; Thank You, Jeeves!; The Charge of the Light Brigade; Beloved Enemy (1936); We Have Our Moments; The Prisoner of Zenda; Dinner at the Ritz (1937); Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife; Four Men and a Prayer; Three Blind Mice; The Dawn Patrol (1938); Wuthering Heights; Bachelor Mother; The Real Glory; Eternally Yours; Raffles (1939).

Yasujirô Ozu (director, 1903-1963): Kekkongaku nyûmon; Walk Cheerfully; I Flunked, But…; That Night’s Wife; The Luck Which Touched the Leg; Ojôsan (1930); The Lady and the Beard; The Sorrow of the Beautiful Woman; Tokyo Chorus (1931); Spring Comes from the Ladies; I Was Born, But…; Where Now Are the Dreams of Youth; Until the Day We Meet Again (1932); Woman of Tokyp; Dragnet Girl; Dekigokoro (1933); A Mother Should Be Loved; A Story of Floating Weeds (1934); Tokyo yoitoko; Hakoiri musume; An Inn in Tokyo (1935); Daigaku yoitoko; The Only Son (1936); What Did the Lady Forget? (1937).

Nova Pilbeam (actor, 1919-2015): Little Friend; The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934); Nine Days a Queen (1936); Young and Innocent (1937); Cheer Boys Cheer (1939).

William Powell (actor, 1892-1984): Behind the Make-Up; Street of Chance; The Benson Murder Case; Paramount on Parade; Shadow of the Law; For the Defense (1930); Man of the World; Ladies’ Man; The Road to Singapore (1931); High Pressure; Jewel Robbery; One Way Passage; Lawyer Man (1932); Private Detective 62; Double Harness; The Kennel Murder Case (1933); Fashions of 1934; Manhattan Melodrama; The Thin Man; The Key; Evelyn Prentice (1934); Star of Midnight; Reckless; Escapade; Rendezvous (1935); The Great Ziegfeld; The Ex-Mrs. Bradford; My Man Godfrey; Libeled Lady; After the Thin Man (1936); The Last of Mrs. Cheyney; The Emperor’s Candlesticks; Double Wedding (1937); The Baroness and the Butler (1938); Another Thin Man (1939).

Basil Radford (actor, 1897-1952): Seven Days Leave (1930); Leave It to Smith (1933); A Southern Maid (1934); Foreign Affaires (1935); Broken Blossoms; Dishonour Bright (1936); When Thief Meets Thief; Young and Innocent; Captain’s Orders (1937); Convict 99; The Lady Vanishes; Climbing High (1938); Let’s Be Famous; Jamaica Inn; Among Human Wolves (1939).

Claude Rains (actor, 1889-1967): The Invisible Man (1933); Crime Without Passion; The Man Who Reclaimed His Head (1934); The Mystery of Edwin Drood; The Clairvoyant; The Last Outpost (1935); Hearts Divided; Anthony Adverse (1936); Stolen Holiday; The Prince and the Pauper; They Won’t Forget (1937); White Banners; Gold Is Where You Find It; The Adventures of Robin Hood; Four Daughters (1938); They Made Me a Criminal; Juarez; Daughters Courageous; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Four Wives (1939).

Jean Renoir (director, 1894-1979): Baby’s Laxative; La Chienne (1931); Night at the Crossroads; Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932); Chotard and Company (1933); Madame Bovary (1934); Toni (1935); The Crime of Monsieur Lange; The Lower Depths; A Day in the Country (1936); Grand Illusion (1937); La Marseillaise; La Bête humaine (1938); The Rules of the Game (1939).

Leni Riefenstahl (director, 1902-2003): The Blue Light (1932); Victory of the Faith (1933); Triumph of the Will (1935); Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations; Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty (1938).

Ginger Rogers (actor, 1911-1995): Young Man of Manhattan; The Sap from Syracuse; Queen High; Follow the Leader (1930); Honor Among Lovers; The Tip-Off; Suicide Fleet (1931); Carnival Boat; The Tenderfoot; The Thirteenth Guest; Hat Check Girl; You Said a Mouthful (1932); 42nd Street; Broadway Bad; Gold Diggers of 1933; Professional Sweetheart; Don’t Bet on Love; A Shriek in the Night; Rafter Romance; Chance at Heaven; Sitting Pretty; Flying Down to Rio (1933); Upper World; Twenty Million Sweethearts; Finishing School; Change of Heart; The Gay Divorcee (1934); Romance in Manhattan; Roberta; Star of Midnight; Top Hat; In Person (1935); Follow the Fleet; Swing Time (1936); Shall We Dance; Stage Door (1937); Vivacious Lady; Having Wonderful Time; Carefree (1938); The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle; Bachelor Mother; 5th Ave Girl (1939).

Charlie Ruggles (actor, 1886-1970): Roadhouse Nights; Young Man of Manhattan; Queen High; Her Wedding Night; Charley’s Aunt (1930); Honor Among Lovers; The Smiling Lieutenant; The Girl Habit; Beloved Bachelor; Husband’s Holiday (1931); This Reckless Age; One Hour with You; This Is the Night; Love Me Tonight; 70,000 Witnesses; The Night of June 13; Trouble in Paradise; Evenings for Sale; If I Had a Million; Madame Butterfly (1932); Murders in the Zoo; Terror Aboard; Melody Cruise; Mama Loves Papa; Goodbye Love; Girl Without a Room; Alice in Wonderland (1933); Six of a Kind; Melody in Spring; Murder in the Private Car; Friends of Mr. Sweeney; The Pursuit of Happiness (1934); Ruggles of Red Gap; People Will Talk; No More Ladies; The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935); Anything Goes; Early to Bed; Hearts Divided; Wives Never Know; Mind Your Own Business (1936); Turn Off the Moon; Exclusive (1937); Bringing Up Baby; Breaking the Ice; Service de Luxe; His Exciting Night (1938); Boy Trouble; Sudden Money; Invitation to Happiness; Night Work; Balalaika (1939).

Ernest B. Schoedsack (director, 1893-1979): Rango (1931); The Most Dangerous Game (1932); King Kong; Blind Adventure; The Son of Kong (1933); Long Lost Father (1934); The Last Days of Pompeii (1935); Trouble in Morocco; Outlaws of the Orient (1937).

David O. Selznick (producer, 1902-1965): Street of Chance (1930); The Lost Squadron; Girl Crazy; Young Bride; Symphony of Six Million; The Roadhouse Murder; State’s Attorney; Westward Passage; Is My Face Red?; What Price Hollywood?; Roar of the Dragon; Beyond the Rockies; Bird of Paradise; The Age of Consent; The Most Dangerous Game; Thirteen Women; Hold ‘Em Jail; Hell’s Highway; A Bill of Divorcement; The Phantom of Crestwood; Little Orphan Annie; The Sport Parade; The Conquerors; Rockabye; Renegades of the West; Men of America; Secrets of the French Police; The Penguin Pool Murder; The Half Naked Truth; The Animal Kingdom (1932); No Other Woman; The Past of Mary Holmes; The Cheyenne Kid; Lucky Devils; Topaze; The Great Jasper; Our Betters; King Kong; Christopher Strong; Scarlet River; Sweepings; Cross Fire; Dinner at Eight; Night Flight; Meet the Baron; Dancing Lady (1933); Viva Villa!; Manhattan Melodrama (1934); David Copperfield; Vanessa, Her Love Story; Reckless; Anna Karenina; A Tale of Two Cities (1935); Little Lord Fauntleroy; The Garden of Allah (1936); A Star Is Born; The Prisoner of Zenda; Nothing Sacred (1937); The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; The Young in Heart (1938); Made for Each Other; Intermezzo; Gone with the Wind (1939).

Sylvia Sidney (actor, 1910-1999): City Streets; Confessions of a Co-Ed; An American Tragedy; Street Scene; Ladies of the Big House (1931); The Miracle Man; Merrily We Go to Hell; Madame Butterfly (1932); Pick-up; Jennie Gerhardt (1933); Good Dame; Thirty Day Princess; Behold My Wife! (1934); Accent on Youth; Mary Burns, Fugitive (1935); The Trail of the Lonesome Pine; Fury; Sabotage (1936); You Only Live Once; Dead End (1937); You and Me (1938); …One Third of a Nation… (1939).

Michel Simon (actor, 1895-1975): Illegitimate Child (1930); Jean de la Lune; Baby’s Laxative; La Chienne (1931); Baleydier; Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932); High and Low (1933); Léopold le bien-aimé; Miquette et sa mère; Ladies Lake; L’Atalante; Le bonheur (1934); Adémaï au moyen âge; Amants et voleurs; Le bébé de l’escadron (1935); Under Western Eyes; Moutonnet; Les jumeaux de Brighton; Jeunes filles de Paris; Le mort en fuite; Faisons un rêve… (1936); Le choc en retour; Boulot aviateur; La bataille silencieuse; Drôle de drame; The Kiss of Fire (1937); Mirages; Boys’ School; Port of Shadows; Les nouveaux riches; Belle étoile; The Stream; Mother Love; Le règne de l’esprit malin (1938); Cocoanut; Eusèbe député; Derrière la façade; La fin du jour; Le dernier tournant; Fric-Frac; Circonstances atténuantes; Cavalcade of Love (1939).

C. Aubrey Smith (actor, 1863-1948): Such Is the Law; The Perfect Alibi (1930); The Bachelor Father; Contraband Love; Daybreak; Never the Twain Shall Meet; Just a Gigolo; The Man in Possession; Son of India; Guilty Hands; The Phantom of Paris; Surrender (1931); Polly of the Circus; Tarzan the Ape Man; -But the Flesh Is Weak; Love Me Tonight; Trouble in Paradise; No More Orchids; They Just Had to Get Married (1932); The Monkey’s Paw; Luxury Liner; Secrets; The Barbarian; Adorable; Morning Glory; Curtain at Eight; Bombshell; Queen Christina (1933); Caravan; Gambling Lady; The House of Rothschild; The Scarlet Empress; One More River; Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back; Cleopatra; We Live Again; The Firebird (1934); The Lives of a Bengal Lancer; Clive of India; The Gilded Lily; The Right to Live; The Florentine Dagger; Jalna; China Seas; The Crusades; Transatlantic Tunnel (1935); Little Lord Fauntleroy; Romeo and Juliet; The Garden of Allah; Lloyd’s of London (1936); Wee Willie Winkie; The Prisoner of Zenda; The Hurricane; Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (1937); Four Men and a Prayer; Kidnapped; Queen of Destiny (1938); East Side of Heaven; The Four Feathers; The Sun Never Sets; Five Came Back; The Under-Pup; Eternally Yours; Another Thin Man; Balalaika (1939).

Josef von Sternberg (director, 1894-1969): The Blue Angel; Morocco (1930); Dishonored; An American Tragedy (1931); Shanghai Express; Blonde Venus (1932); The Scarlet Empress (1934); The Devil Is a Woman; Crime and Punishment (1935); The King Steps Out (1936); Sergeant Madden (1939).

Yôko Umemura (actor, 1903-1944): Umon torimonochô – Samban tegara; Zoku ôoka seidan mazohe daiichi; Tôjin Okichi (1930); Zuku ôoka seidan mazo kaiketsu-hen; Shikamo karera wa yuku (1931); Shanghai (1932); Maria no Oyuki; Ojô Okichi; Poppy; Megumi no kenka (1935); Osaka Elegy; Sisters of the Gion; Akanishi Kakita (1936); Yoshida Palace (1937); Kaibyô gojûsan-tsugi; Oshare kyôjo; Kaibyô nazo no shamisen (1938); The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939).

Edward Van Sloan (actor, 1882-1964): Dracula; Frankenstein (1931); Behind the Mask; Play Girl; Man Wanted; The Last Mile; The Death Kiss; The Mummy (1932); The Billion Dollar Scandal; Infernal Machine; The Working Man; Trick for Trick; It’s Great to Be Alive; Deluge; Murder on the Campus; Goodbye Love (1933); The Crosby Case; The Life of Vergie Winters; I’ll Fix It; Mills of the Gods (1934); Grand Old Girl; A Shot in the Dark; The Woman in Red; Air Hawks; The Last Days of Pompeii; Three Kids and a Queen (1935); Road Gang; Dracula’s Daughter; Sins of Man (1936); Danger on the Air; Storm Over Bengal (1938); The Phantom Creeps (1939).

Jean Vigo (director, 1905-1934): Zero de Conduite (1933); L’Atalante (1934).

James Whale (director, 1889-1957): Journey’s End (1930); Waterloo Bridge; Frankenstein (1931); The Impatient Maiden; The Old Dark House (1932); The Kiss Before the Mirror; The Invisible Man; By Candlelight (1933); One More River (1934); Bride of Frankenstein; Remember Last Night? (1935); Show Boat (1936); The Road Back; The Great Garrick (1937); Sinners in Paradise; Wives Under Suspicion; Port of Seven Seas (1938); The Man in the Iron Mask (1939).

Fay Wray (actor, 1907-2004): Behind the Make-Up; Paramount on Parade; The Texan; The Border Legion; The Sea God; The Honeymoon; Captain Thunder (1930); Dirigible; The Conquering Horde; Not Exactly Gentlemen; The Finger Points; The Lawyer’s Secret; The Unholy Garden (1931); Stowaway; Doctor X; The Most Dangerous Game (1932); The Vampire Bat; Mystery of the Wax Museum; King Kong; Below the Sea; Ann Carver’s Profession; The Woman I Stole; Shanghai Madness; The Big Brain; One Sunday Afternoon; The Bowery; Master of Men (1933); Madame Spy; The Countess of Monte Crisco; Once to Every Woman; Viva Villa!; Black Moon; The Affairs of Cellini; The Richest Girl in the World; Cheating Cheaters; Woman in the Dark; Mills of the Gods (1934); The Clairvoyant; Alias Bulldog Drummond; Come Out of the Pantry; White Lies (1935); When Knights Were Bold; Roaming Lady; They Met in a Taxi (1936); It Happened in Hollywood; Murder in Greenwich Village (1937); The Jury’s Secret; Smashing the Spy Ring (1938); Navy Secrets (1939).

William Wyler (director, 1902-1981): The Storm (1930); A House Divided (1931); Tom Brown of Culver (1932); Her First Mate; Counsellor-at-Law (1933); Glamour (1934); The Good Fairy; The Gay Deception (1935); These Three; Dodsworth; Come and Get It (1936); Dead End (1937); Jezebel (1938); Wuthering Heights (1939).

Isuzu Yamada (actor, 1917-2012): Tsurugi wo koete (1930); Junkyo kesshi nihon nijuroku seijin; Adauchi senshu (1931); Byakuya no Kyoen; The Greatest Man in the World; Yamiuchi tosei (1932); Shinju fujin; Kôya no hate: zenpen; Bangaku no issho; Konjiki yasha; Kôya no hate – Kanketsu-hen (1933); Budo taikan; Furyû katsujinken; Tange Sazen: Kengeki no maki; Ureshii musume; Chûshingura – Ninjô-hen; Fukushû-hen; Aizô tôge; Kensetsu no hitobito (1934); The Downfall; Oroku-gushi; Maria no Oyuki; Ojô Okichi (1935); Osaka Elegy; Shijû-hachi-nin me; Sisters of the Gion (1936); Yoshida Palace (1937); Tsuruhachi Tsurujirô (1938); Shinpen Tange Sazen: Hayate-hen; Chushingura (Zen); Chushingura (Go); Higuchi Ichiyo; Kenka tobi – Kôhen; Kenka tobi: Zenpen; Sono zen’ya; Shinpen Tange Sazen: Sekigan no maki (1939).


For the rest of December I will be playing catchup with some new films and running quickly through all of the movies that have made Sight & Sound’s critically voted top ten lists, which appear once per decade since the ’50s; this only constitutes seven films I’ve never seen, plus two more I haven’t yet reviewed here, so it will not be a long-term project. After that, I will begin the 1940s canon (and resume the Best Picture Oscar nominees project) in January. I hope you’ve enjoyed this exercise and reading my interpretation of what I learned, and I’ll see you soon. Again, I can’t thank you enough for reading all this.

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