50 Greatest Films of the 1930s

Following the addition of sound, the film industry was only just exploding in the 1930s. Though the overall film library of the the decade is relatively small compared to the decades which followed, some of cinema's greatest accomplishments came from the 1930s.
Here is the ordered list of what I feel are the 50 best films from the 1930 - 1939 era in motion pictures.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Of Mice and Men (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Two itinerant migrant workers, one mentally disabled and the other his carer, take jobs as ranch hands during the Great Depression to fulfill their shared dream of owning their own ranch. (106 mins.)
Director: Lewis Milestone
 
2.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods. (238 mins.)
Director: Victor Fleming
 
3.
M (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt. (117 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
 
4.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Dorothy Gale is swept away from a farm in Kansas to a magical land of Oz in a tornado and embarks on a quest with her new friends to see the Wizard who can help her return home in Kansas and help her friends as well. (102 mins.)
Director: Victor Fleming
 
5.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Exiled into the dangerous forest by her wicked stepmother, a princess is rescued by seven dwarf miners who make her part of their household. (83 mins.)
 
6.
La Grande Illusion (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from. (113 mins.)
Director: Jean Renoir
 
7.
The Blood of a Poet (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A young artist draws a face at a canvas on his easel. Suddenly the mouth on the drawing comes into life and starts talking... (55 mins.)
Director: Jean Cocteau
 
8.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down. (129 mins.)
Director: Frank Capra
 
9.
Modern Times (1936)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman. (87 mins.)
Director: Charlie Chaplin
 
10.
Dracula (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina. (85 mins.)
Director: Tod Browning
 
11.
Dangerous (1935)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
An alcoholic actress who is considered a dangerous jinx is rehabilitated, but she then shows that she's as dangerous as ever. (79 mins.)
Director: Alfred E. Green
 
12.
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
On the South Pacific island of Bora Bora, a young couple's love is threatened when the tribal chief declares the girl a sacred virgin. (86 mins.)
Director: F.W. Murnau
 
13.
Hell's Angels (1930)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Brothers Monte and Ray leave Oxford to join the Royal Flying Corps. Ray loves Helen; Helen enjoys an affair with Monte; before they leave on their mission over Germany they find her in still another man's arms. (127 mins.)
Director: Howard Hughes
 
14.
A Night at the Opera (1935)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A sly business manager and two wacky friends of two opera singers help them achieve success while humiliating their stuffy and snobbish enemies. (96 mins.)
Director: Sam Wood
 
15.
Frankenstein (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
An obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses. (70 mins.)
Director: James Whale
 
16.
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A priest tries to stop a gangster from corrupting a group of street kids. (97 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
 
17.
Vampyr (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A drifter obsessed with the supernatural stumbles upon an inn where a severely ill adolescent girl is slowly becoming a vampire. (83 mins.)
Director: Carl Th. Dreyer
 
18.
Animal Crackers (1930)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Mayhem and zaniness ensue when a valuable painting goes missing during a party in honor of famed African explorer Captain Spaulding. (97 mins.)
Director: Victor Heerman
 
19.
The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
An insane hunter arranges for a ship to be wrecked on an island where he can indulge in some sort of hunting and killing of the passengers. (63 mins.)
 
20.
City Lights (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically. (87 mins.)
Director: Charles Chaplin
 
21.
Duck Soup (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale. (68 mins.)
Director: Leo McCarey
 
22.
Port of Shadows (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A military deserter finds love and trouble (and a small dog) in a smoky French port city. (91 mins.)
Director: Marcel Carné
 
23.
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I. (136 mins.)
Director: Lewis Milestone
 
24.
Gulliver's Travels (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Gulliver washes ashore on Lilliput and attempts to prevent war between that tiny kingdom and its equally minuscule rival... (76 mins.)
Director: Dave Fleischer
 
25.
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Midshipman Roger Byam joins Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian aboard HMS Bounty for a voyage to Tahiti... (132 mins.)
Director: Frank Lloyd
 
26.
Jezebel (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
In 1850s Louisiana, a free-spirited Southern belle loses her fiancé due to her stubborn vanity and pride, and vows to win him back. (104 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
 
27.
The Rules of the Game (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A bourgeois life in France at the onset of World War II, as the rich and their poor servants meet up at a French chateau. (110 mins.)
Director: Jean Renoir
 
28.
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
While traveling in continental Europe, a rich young playgirl realizes that an elderly lady seems to have disappeared from the train. (96 mins.)
 
29.
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A new crime wave grips the city and all clues seem to lead to the nefarious Dr. Mabuse, even though he has been imprisoned in a mental asylum for nearly a decade. (122 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
 
30.
The Petrified Forest (1936)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A waitress, a hobo and a bank robber get mixed up at a lonely diner in the desert. (82 mins.)
Director: Archie L. Mayo
 
31.
Pygmalion (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A Victorian dialect expert makes a bet that he can teach a cockney flower girl to speak proper English and pass as a lady in high society. (96 mins.)
 
32.
The 39 Steps (1935)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information. (86 mins.)
 
33.
You Can't Take It with You (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family. (126 mins.)
Director: Frank Capra
 
34.
King Kong (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition. (100 mins.)
 
35.
Sabotage (1936)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A Scotland Yard undercover detective is on the trail of a saboteur who is part of a plot to set off a bomb in London. But when the detective's cover is blown, the plot begins to unravel. (76 mins.)
 
36.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
In 15th century France, a gypsy girl is framed for murder by the infatuated Chief Justice, and only the deformed bellringer of Notre Dame Cathedral can save her. (117 mins.)
 
37.
Tower of London (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne... (92 mins.)
Director: Rowland V. Lee
 
38.
The Ghoul (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
An Egyptologist returns from the dead to take revenge on those who have violated his tomb. (77 mins.)
Director: T. Hayes Hunter
 
39.
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard, Baby. (102 mins.)
Director: Howard Hawks
 
40.
Freaks (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance. (64 mins.)
Director: Tod Browning
 
41.
Stagecoach (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A group of people traveling on a stagecoach find their journey complicated by the threat of Geronimo and learn something about each other in the process. (96 mins.)
Director: John Ford
 
42.
The Invisible Man (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane. (71 mins.)
Director: James Whale
 
43.
The Cat and the Canary (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
When an eccentric family meets in their uncle's remote, decaying mansion on the tenth anniversary of his death for the reading of his will, murder and madness follow. (72 mins.)
Director: Elliott Nugent
 
44.
The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A Chinese warlord and an engaged Christian missionary fall in love. (88 mins.)
Director: Frank R. Capra
 
45.
Fury (1936)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
When a wrongly accused prisoner barely survives a lynch mob attack and is presumed dead, he vindictively decides to fake his death and frame the mob for his supposed murder. (92 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
 
46.
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson investigate the legend of a supernatural hound, a beast that may be stalking a young heir on the fog-shrouded moorland that makes up his estate. (80 mins.)
Director: Sidney Lanfield
 
47.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
An aged teacher and former headmaster of a boarding school recalls his career and his personal life over the decades. (114 mins.)
Director: Sam Wood
 
48.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Dr. Jekyll faces horrible consequences when he lets his dark side run wild with a potion that transforms him into the animalistic Mr. Hyde. (98 mins.)
 
49.
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
When Prince John and the Norman Lords begin oppressing the Saxon masses in King Richard's absence, a Saxon lord fights back as the outlaw leader of a rebel guerrilla army. (102 mins.)
 
50.
Werewolf of London (1935)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
The juice of a rare Tibetan flower is the only thing that keeps Dr. Glendon from turning into a werewolf during a full moon. (75 mins.)
Director: Stuart Walker