Great Old Movies (pre-1960) You May Not Know About

by Col Needham | created - 16 Sep 2010 | updated - 16 Sep 2010 | Public

In chronological order, great movies which are not as widely known as they deserve ...

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1. Possessed (1931)

Passed | 76 min | Drama, Romance

6.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An ambitious factory girl meets a handsome, wealthy lawyer, but he's interested in her as a mistress, not a wife.

Director: Clarence Brown | Stars: Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Wallace Ford, Richard 'Skeets' Gallagher

Votes: 1,327

2. Night Nurse (1931)

Not Rated | 72 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

7.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A nurse enlists the help of a petty criminal to foil a sinister plot to murder two children.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Ben Lyon, Joan Blondell, Clark Gable

Votes: 2,549

3. One Way Passage (1932)

Unrated | 67 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A terminally ill woman and a debonair murderer facing execution meet and fall in love on a trans-Pacific crossing, each without knowing the other's secret.

Director: Tay Garnett | Stars: William Powell, Kay Francis, Frank McHugh, Aline MacMahon

Votes: 2,709

4. Blonde Venus (1932)

Passed | 93 min | Drama

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A cabaret singer takes up with a millionaire to pay for her gravely ill husband's operation.

Director: Josef von Sternberg | Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, Herbert Marshall, Dickie Moore

Votes: 3,361

5. Payment Deferred (1932)

Passed | 81 min | Crime, Drama

7.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A man poisons his nephew out of desperation for money.

Director: Lothar Mendes | Stars: Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Sullivan, Ray Milland, Dorothy Peterson

Votes: 470

6. The Power and the Glory (1933)

Passed | 76 min | Drama

6.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A man's life is retold just after his funeral. Beginning as a track walker, Tom Garner rose through all sorts of railroad jobs to head the company. In the meantime he lost touch with his ... See full summary »

Director: William K. Howard | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Colleen Moore, Ralph Morgan, Helen Vinson

Votes: 503

7. The Whole Town's Talking (1935)

Approved | 93 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A meek milquetoast of a clerk is mistaken for Public Enemy #1, and the notorious killer takes advantage of the situation.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Jean Arthur, Arthur Hohl, James Donlan

Votes: 1,622

8. The Beast of the City (1932)

Passed | 86 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

6.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Police Chief Jim Fitzpatrick ruthlessly goes after organized crime and is prepared to use brutal and violent methods to fight it.

Director: Charles Brabin | Stars: Walter Huston, Jean Harlow, Wallace Ford, Jean Hersholt

Votes: 882 | Gross: $0.41M

9. These Three (1936)

Passed | 93 min | Drama, Romance

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Two school teachers and the man they both love face ruin when a malicious student cooks up a lie.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Miriam Hopkins, Merle Oberon, Joel McCrea, Catherine Doucet

Votes: 1,788

10. The Shopworn Angel (1938)

Passed | 85 min | Drama, Romance, War

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Shortly after the United States enters World War I in 1917, a Broadway actress agrees to let a naive soldier court her in order to impress his friends, but a real romance soon begins.

Director: H.C. Potter | Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Walter Pidgeon, Hattie McDaniel

Votes: 1,120

11. Merrily We Live (1938)

Passed | 95 min | Comedy, Romance

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Dizzy society matron Emily Kilbourne has a habit of hiring ex-cons and hobos as servants. Her latest find is a handsome "tramp" who shows up at her doorstep and soon ends up in a ... See full summary »

Director: Norman Z. McLeod | Stars: Constance Bennett, Brian Aherne, Alan Mowbray, Billie Burke

Votes: 1,173

12. The Roaring Twenties (1939)

Not Rated | 106 min | Action, Crime, Drama

7.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Three men attempt to make a living in Prohibitionist America after returning home from fighting together in World War I.

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Priscilla Lane, Gladys George

Votes: 10,421

13. In Name Only (1939)

Approved | 94 min | Drama, Romance

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

After a wealthy man finds out his wife is a gold digger, he meets and falls for a widowed mother, and complications ensue.

Director: John Cromwell | Stars: Cary Grant, Carole Lombard, Kay Francis, Charles Coburn

Votes: 2,094

14. Vigil in the Night (1940)

Approved | 96 min | Drama

6.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A nurse loses her job after selflessly taking the blame for a fatal mistake her sister and co-worker made; she is subsequently employed at a poorly-equipped hospital, where she finds romance and tragedy.

Director: George Stevens | Stars: Carole Lombard, Anne Shirley, Brian Aherne, Julien Mitchell

Votes: 599

15. Christmas in July (1940)

Passed | 67 min | Comedy, Romance

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

When the co-workers of an ambitious clerk trick him into thinking he has won $25,000 in a slogan contest, he begins to use the money to fulfill his dreams. What will happen when the ruse is discovered?

Director: Preston Sturges | Stars: Dick Powell, Ellen Drew, Raymond Walburn, Alexander Carr

Votes: 2,627

16. I Love You Again (1940)

Passed | 99 min | Comedy, Romance

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Boring businessman Larry Wilson recovers from amnesia and discovers he's really a con man...and loves his soon-to-be-ex wife.

Director: W.S. Van Dyke | Stars: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Frank McHugh, Edmund Lowe

Votes: 2,387

17. Keeper of the Flame (1943)

Not Rated | 100 min | Drama, Mystery

6.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Journalist Steve O'Malley wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.

Director: George Cukor | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Richard Whorf, Margaret Wycherly

Votes: 1,703

18. Phantom Lady (1944)

Passed | 87 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A devoted secretary risks her life to try to find the elusive woman who may prove her boss didn't murder his selfish wife.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Franchot Tone, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis, Aurora Miranda

Votes: 3,166

19. Undercurrent (1946)

Approved | 116 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Middle-aged bride Ann Hamilton soon begins to suspect that her charming husband is really a psychotic who plans to murder her.

Director: Vincente Minnelli | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Robert Taylor, Robert Mitchum, Edmund Gwenn

Votes: 2,217

20. Somewhere in the Night (1946)

Approved | 110 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

George Taylor returns from WWII with amnesia. Back home in Los Angeles, while trying to track down his old identity, he stumbles onto a 3-year old murder case and a hunt for a missing $2 million.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz | Stars: John Hodiak, Nancy Guild, Lloyd Nolan, Richard Conte

Votes: 1,907

21. Brute Force (1947)

Not Rated | 98 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

At a tough penitentiary, prisoner Joe Collins plans to rebel against Captain Munsey, the power-mad chief guard.

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford, Yvonne De Carlo

Votes: 7,216

22. High Wall (1947)

Approved | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

After a brain-damaged man confesses to murder and is committed, Dr. Ann Lorrison tries to prove his innocence.

Director: Curtis Bernhardt | Stars: Robert Taylor, Audrey Totter, Herbert Marshall, Dorothy Patrick

Votes: 1,091

23. Call Northside 777 (1948)

Approved | 112 min | Drama, Film-Noir

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Chicago reporter P.J. McNeal re-opens a ten year old murder case.

Director: Henry Hathaway | Stars: James Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb, Helen Walker

Votes: 6,823

24. Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

Approved | 89 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

While on the telephone, an invalid woman overhears what she thinks is a murder plot and attempts to prevent it.

Director: Anatole Litvak | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards, Wendell Corey

Votes: 8,053

25. Criss Cross (1949)

Not Rated | 84 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An armored truck driver and his lovely ex-wife conspire with a gang to have his own truck robbed on the route.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally

Votes: 5,700

26. Impact (1949)

Unrated | 111 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A unfaithful wife plots with her lover to kill her husband, but the lover is accidentally killed instead. The husband stays in hiding, and lets his wife be charged with conspiracy.

Director: Arthur Lubin | Stars: Brian Donlevy, Ella Raines, Charles Coburn, Helen Walker

Votes: 2,238

27. Caught (1949)

Not Rated | 88 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

7.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

It was Leonora Eames' childhood dream come true. She had married Smith Ohlrig, a man worth millions. But her innocent dream became a nightmare once she realizes the truth about her husband ... See full summary »

Director: Max Ophüls | Stars: James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Ryan, Frank Ferguson

Votes: 2,549

28. No Man of Her Own (1950)

Approved | 98 min | Drama, Film-Noir

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A pregnant woman adopts the identity of a railroad crash victim and starts a new life with the woman's wealthy in-laws, but is soon blackmailed by her devious ex.

Director: Mitchell Leisen | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, John Lund, Jane Cowl, Phyllis Thaxter

Votes: 1,417

29. The File on Thelma Jordon (1950)

Passed | 100 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Assistant district attorney Cleve Marshall falls for the mysterious Thelma Jordon when she seeks help solving robberies of her aunt's estate.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Wendell Corey, Paul Kelly, Joan Tetzel

Votes: 1,475

30. Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)

Not Rated | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Det. Sgt. Mark Dixon wants to be something his old man wasn't: a guy on the right side of the law. But Dixon's vicious nature will get the better of him.

Director: Otto Preminger | Stars: Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill, Bert Freed

Votes: 6,148

31. No Highway in the Sky (1951)

Not Rated | 98 min | Drama, Thriller

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An aeronautical engineer predicts that a new model of plane will fail catastrophically and in a novel manner after a specific number flying hours.

Director: Henry Koster | Stars: James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Glynis Johns, Jack Hawkins

Votes: 2,667

32. The Narrow Margin (1952)

Not Rated | 71 min | Film-Noir, Thriller

7.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A woman planning to testify against the mob must be protected against their assassins on the train trip from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Director: Richard Fleischer | Stars: Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, Jacqueline White, Gordon Gebert

Votes: 5,698

33. Mr. Denning Drives North (1951)

Approved | 93 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

6.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A British aircraft engineer accidentally kills his daughter's nasty foreign boyfriend and then tries to cover up his deed.

Director: Anthony Kimmins | Stars: John Mills, Phyllis Calvert, Eileen Moore, Sam Wanamaker

Votes: 225

34. Split Second (1953)

Not Rated | 85 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

6.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Two escaped killers take hostages and hide in a Nevada mining ghost town knowing that an atom bomb is scheduled to be tested there the next morning.

Director: Dick Powell | Stars: Stephen McNally, Alexis Smith, Jan Sterling, Keith Andes

Votes: 1,134

35. The Long Memory (1953)

Approved | 96 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Released from prison after 12 years, a wrongfully convicted British man seeks revenge on the witnesses who lied at his trial.

Director: Robert Hamer | Stars: John Mills, John McCallum, Elizabeth Sellars, Eva Bergh

Votes: 721

36. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

Not Rated | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A novelist aided by his future father-in-law conspires to frame himself in the murder of a stripper as part of an effort to ban capital punishment.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Dana Andrews, Joan Fontaine, Sidney Blackmer, Arthur Franz

Votes: 3,520

37. While the City Sleeps (1956)

Not Rated | 100 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A serial killer has been killing beautiful women in New York, and the new owner of a media company offers a high ranking job to the 1st administrator who can get the earliest scoops on the case.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Howard Duff

Votes: 4,169

38. The Circle (1957)

84 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

6.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

When Dr Howard Latimer finds the German Actress that he has just met at London Airport murdered in his flat, it leads him into the world of murder, blackmail and a fake passport scam.

Director: Gerald Thomas | Stars: John Mills, Derek Farr, Noelle Middleton, Wilfrid Hyde-White

Votes: 337