Top 25 Pre-Code Movies (1930-1934)

by TheHestinator | created - 27 Jun 2014 | updated - 1 week ago | Public

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1. Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Not Rated | 70 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

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

An obsessed scientist conducts profane experiments in evolution, eventually establishing himself as the self-styled demigod to a race of mutated, half-human abominations.

Director: Erle C. Kenton | Stars: Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams

Votes: 6,457

2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Not Rated | 136 min | Drama, War

8.1
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    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.

Director: Lewis Milestone | Stars: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray, Arnold Lucy

Votes: 50,458 | Gross: $3.27M

3. Scarface (1932)

PG | 93 min | Action, Crime, Drama

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An ambitious and near insanely violent gangster climbs the ladder of success in the mob, but his weaknesses prove to be his downfall.

Directors: Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson | Stars: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Karen Morley, Osgood Perkins

Votes: 21,438

4. The Public Enemy (1931)

Not Rated | 83 min | Crime, Drama

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

A young hoodlum rises up through the ranks of the Chicago underworld, even as a gangster's accidental death threatens to spark a bloody mob war.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, Joan Blondell

Votes: 14,786

5. M (1931)

Not Rated | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

8.4
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    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.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut, Otto Wernicke

Votes: 112,610 | Gross: $0.03M

Note: Okay, this one doesn't really count, since it's not an American film, but I just had to include it anyway.

6. Gabriel Over the White House (1933)

Passed | 86 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A political hack becomes President during the height of the Depression and undergoes a metamorphosis into an incorruptible statesman after a near-fatal accident.

Director: Gregory La Cava | Stars: Walter Huston, Karen Morley, Franchot Tone, Arthur Byron

Votes: 956

7. King Kong (1933)

Not Rated | 100 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.9
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    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.

Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher

Votes: 69,724 | Gross: $10.00M

8. The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

Not Rated | 63 min | Adventure, Horror, Mystery

7.2
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    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.

Directors: Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks, Robert Armstrong

Votes: 8,052

9. Doctor X (1932)

Approved | 76 min | Comedy, Crime, Horror

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A wisecracking New York reporter intrudes on a research scientist's quest to unmask The Moon Killer.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Lee Tracy, Preston Foster

Votes: 2,126

10. The Invisible Man (1933)

Not Rated | 71 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

7.7
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    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.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Henry Travers

Votes: 23,774

11. Duck Soup (1933)

Not Rated | 68 min | Comedy, Musical, War

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale.

Director: Leo McCarey | Stars: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx

Votes: 49,887

12. The Mayor of Hell (1933)

TV-PG | 90 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Five members of a teen-age gang, including leader Jimmy Smith, are sent to the State Reformatory, presided over by the melodramatically callous Thompson. Soon, Patsy Gargan, a former ... See full summary »

Directors: Archie Mayo, Michael Curtiz | Stars: James Cagney, Madge Evans, Arthur Byron, Allen Jenkins

Votes: 1,126

13. Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

Approved | 68 min | Adventure, Drama

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

In the depths of the Depression, two teenage boys strike out on their own in order to help their struggling parents and find life on the road tougher than expected.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Frankie Darro, Rochelle Hudson, Edwin Phillips, Dorothy Coonan Wellman

Votes: 1,447

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

Not Rated | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Wrongly convicted James Allen serves in the intolerable conditions of a southern chain gang, which later comes back to haunt him.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Helen Vinson, Noel Francis

Votes: 9,799

15. The Beast of the City (1932)

Passed | 86 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  

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

16. Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Unrated | 61 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

6.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A mad scientist seeks to mingle human blood with that of an ape, and resorts to kidnapping women for his experiments.

Director: Robert Florey | Stars: Bela Lugosi, Sidney Fox, Leon Ames, Bert Roach

Votes: 2,929

17. Heroes for Sale (1933)

76 min | Drama, War

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A veteran fights drug addiction to make his way in the business world.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Loretta Young, Richard Barthelmess, Aline MacMahon, Gordon Westcott

Votes: 1,788

18. Kongo (1932)

Passed | 86 min | Drama, Horror

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

This remake of West of Zanzibar (1928) made four years later tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. From a wheelchair a handicapped white man rules an area of Africa as a ... See full summary »

Director: William J. Cowen | Stars: Walter Huston, Lupe Velez, Conrad Nagel, Virginia Bruce

Votes: 685

19. The Son of Kong (1933)

Passed | 70 min | Adventure, Comedy

5.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

The men who captured the giant ape King Kong return to Skull Island and find his likewise gigantic but far more friendly son.

Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Robert Armstrong, Helen Mack, Frank Reicher, John Marston

Votes: 3,152 | Gross: $1.34M

20. Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

Unrated | 104 min | Action, Adventure

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

The idyllic life of Tarzan and Jane is challenged by men on safari who come seeking ivory, and come seeking Jane as well.

Directors: Cedric Gibbons, James C. McKay, Jack Conway | Stars: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Neil Hamilton, Paul Cavanagh

Votes: 4,122

21. The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)

Passed | 68 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Englishmen race to find the tomb of Genghis Khan before the sinister Fu Manchu does.

Directors: Charles Brabin, Charles Vidor | Stars: Boris Karloff, Lewis Stone, Karen Morley, Charles Starrett

Votes: 2,563

22. Frankenstein (1931)

Not Rated | 70 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.9
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    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.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff, John Boles

Votes: 54,106 | Gross: $12.00M

23. Shock Troop (1934)

118 min | Drama, War

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

This powerful anti-war film statement focuses on the plight of a German unit in World War I that finds itself surrounded by British and French forces.

Directors: Ludwig Schmid-Wildy, Hans Zöberlein | Stars: Ludwig Schmid-Wildy, Beppo Brem, Max Zankl, Hans Pössenbacher

Votes: 53

Note: Okay, this one doesn't really count, since it's not an American film, but I just had to include it anyway.

24. L'Age d'Or (1930)

63 min | Comedy, Drama

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

A surrealist tale of a man and a woman passionately in love with one another, but their attempts to consummate that passion are constantly thwarted by their families, the Church, and bourgeois society.

Director: Luis Buñuel | Stars: Gaston Modot, Lya Lys, Caridad de Laberdesque, Max Ernst

Votes: 10,494 | Gross: $0.03M

Note: Okay, this one doesn't really count, since it's not an American film, but I just had to include it anyway.

25. Picture Snatcher (1933)

Not Rated | 77 min | Drama, Crime

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

Ex-convict Danny Kean decides to become honest as a photographer for a paper. He falls in love with Patricia, the daughter of the policeman who arrested him. Mr Nolan, her father, doesn't ... See full summary »

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: James Cagney, Ralph Bellamy, Patricia Ellis, Alice White

Votes: 1,132

26. Lady Killer (1933)

TV-G | 76 min | Comedy, Crime

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A former gangster makes it big in Hollywood, but his old life catches up with him.

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: James Cagney, Mae Clarke, Margaret Lindsay, Leslie Fenton

Votes: 1,304

Note: Knocked Off the List/Runner-Up