iCM Favorite Movies of the 1930s (2019)

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1. Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Not Rated | 121 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

86 Metascore

At a remote South American trading port, the manager of an air freight company is forced to risk his pilots' lives in order to win an important contract.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Richard Barthelmess

Votes: 10,959

2. La Chienne (1931)

Not Rated | 95 min | Crime, Drama

A woman and her pimp exploit a painter for money.

Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Michel Simon, Janie Marèse, Georges Flamant, Roger Gaillard

Votes: 3,156

3. The Awful Truth (1937)

Not Rated | 90 min | Comedy, Romance

Unfounded suspicions lead a married couple to begin divorce proceedings, whereupon they start undermining each other's attempts to find new romance.

Director: Leo McCarey | Stars: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy, Alexander D'Arcy

Votes: 16,115

4. The Rules of the Game (1939)

Not Rated | 110 min | Comedy, Drama

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.

Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Marcel Dalio, Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost, Mila Parély

Votes: 24,210

5. The Scarlet Empress (1934)

Passed | 104 min | Drama, History, Romance

A German noblewoman enters into a loveless marriage with the dim-witted, unstable heir to the Russian throne, then plots to oust him from power.

Director: Josef von Sternberg | Stars: Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Sam Jaffe, Louise Dresser

Votes: 5,148

6. Back Street (1932)

Passed | 93 min | Drama, Romance

A woman's love for and devotion to a married man results in her being relegated to the "back streets" of his life.

Director: John M. Stahl | Stars: Irene Dunne, John Boles, June Clyde, George Meeker

Votes: 466

7. Comradeship (1931)

Not Rated | 93 min | Drama

Plea against war and for friendship between peoples, through the story of French miners rescued by German colleagues after a firedamp explosion.

Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst | Stars: Alexander Granach, Fritz Kampers, Ernst Busch, Elisabeth Wendt

Votes: 1,085

8. Every-Night Dreams (1933)

64 min | Drama

A single mother works tirelessly as a Ginza bar hostess to ensure a better life for her young son until--her long-lost husband returns.

Director: Mikio Naruse | Stars: Sumiko Kurishima, Teruko Kojima, Jun Arai, Tatsuo Saitô

Votes: 388

9. A Day in the Country (1946)

Not Rated | 40 min | Short, Comedy, Drama

The family of a Parisian shop-owner spends a day in the country. The daughter falls in love with a man at the inn, where they spend the day.

Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Sylvia Bataille, Jane Marken, Georges D'Arnoux, André Gabriello

Votes: 5,078

10. I Was Born, But... (1932)

Not Rated | 100 min | Comedy, Drama

91 Metascore

Two young brothers throw a tantrum when they discover that their father isn't the most important man in his workplace.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Tatsuo Saitô, Tomio Aoki, Mitsuko Yoshikawa, Hideo Sugawara

Votes: 4,207

11. The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Not Rated | 96 min | Mystery, Thriller

While travelling in continental Europe, a rich young playgirl realizes that an elderly lady seems to have disappeared from the train.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, May Whitty

Votes: 42,584

12. L'Atalante (1934)

Not Rated | 89 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Newly married couple Juliette and a ship captain Jean struggle through marriage as they travel on the L'atalante along with the captain's first mate Le père Jules and a cabin boy.

Director: Jean Vigo | Stars: Dita Parlo, Jean Dasté, Gilles Margaritis, Louis Lefebvre

Votes: 12,868

13. Ninotchka (1939)

Not Rated | 110 min | Comedy, Romance

A stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business finds herself attracted to a man who represents everything she is supposed to detest.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch | Stars: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire, Bela Lugosi

Votes: 17,172 | Gross: $1.19M

14. Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)

Not Rated | 86 min | Drama, Romance, Adventure

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.

Director: F.W. Murnau | Stars: Anne Chevalier, Matahi, Hitu, Bill Bambridge

Votes: 4,387

15. Twentieth Century (1934)

91 min | Comedy, Romance

A flamboyant Broadway impresario who has fallen on hard times tries to get his former lover, now a Hollywood diva, to return and resurrect his failing career.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: John Barrymore, Carole Lombard, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns

Votes: 5,351

16. Midnight (1939)

Not Rated | 94 min | Comedy, Romance

A chorus girl stranded in Paris is set up by a millionaire to break up his wife's affair with another man, while being romantically pursued by a cab driver.

Director: Mitchell Leisen | Stars: Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore, Francis Lederer

Votes: 4,059

17. Scarface (1932)

PG | 93 min | Action, Crime, Drama

An ambitious and nearly insane 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: 22,865

18. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)

Passed | 91 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

An elderly couple are forced to separate when they lose their house and none of their five children will take both parents in.

Director: Leo McCarey | Stars: Victor Moore, Beulah Bondi, Fay Bainter, Thomas Mitchell

Votes: 6,387

19. Blonde Venus (1932)

Not Rated | 93 min | Drama

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: 3,815

20. Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Not Rated | 102 min | Comedy, Family, Romance

While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard, Baby.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles, Walter Catlett

Votes: 50,955

21. History Is Made at Night (1937)

Approved | 97 min | Drama, Romance

A wealthy divorcée falls for a charming Parisian, but her insanely jealous ex-husband will do anything to get her back.

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Charles Boyer, Jean Arthur, Leo Carrillo, Colin Clive

Votes: 1,307

22. Westfront 1918 (1930)

Not Rated | 75 min | Drama, Romance, War

A group of German infantrymen of the First World War live out their lives in the trenches of France. They find brief entertainment and relief in a village behind the lines, but primarily ... See full summary »

Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst | Stars: Fritz Kampers, Gustav Diessl, Hans-Joachim Möbis, Claus Clausen

Votes: 1,342

23. It Happened One Night (1934)

Not Rated | 105 min | Comedy, Romance

87 Metascore

A spoiled heiress running away from her family is helped by a man who is actually a reporter in need of a story.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns

Votes: 84,518 | Gross: $4.36M

24. The Roaring Twenties (1939)

Not Rated | 106 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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: 11,333

25. M (1931)

Not Rated | 99 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller

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: 126,989 | Gross: $0.03M

26. Man's Castle (1933)

75 min | Drama, Romance

Bill takes Trina into his depression camp cabin. Later, just as he finds showgirl LaRue who will support him, Trina becomes pregnant.

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Loretta Young, Marjorie Rambeau, Glenda Farrell

Votes: 1,188

27. Love Affair (1939)

Approved | 88 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A French playboy and an American former nightclub singer fall in love aboard a ship. They arrange to reunite six months later, after he has had a chance to earn a decent living.

Director: Leo McCarey | Stars: Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer, Maria Ouspenskaya, Lee Bowman

Votes: 3,847

28. A Farewell to Arms (1932)

Unrated | 80 min | Drama, Romance, War

An American ambulance driver and an English nurse fall in love in Italy during World War I.

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou, Mary Philips

Votes: 4,407

29. City Lights (1931)

G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers

Votes: 146,184 | Gross: $0.02M

30. Vampyr (1932)

Not Rated | 75 min | Fantasy, Horror

A drifter obsessed with the supernatural stumbles upon an inn where a severely ill adolescent girl is slowly becoming a vampire.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer | Stars: Julian West, Maurice Schutz, Rena Mandel, Sybille Schmitz

Votes: 13,696

31. Modern Times (1936)

G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

96 Metascore

The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford

Votes: 189,414 | Gross: $0.16M

32. Zero for Conduct (1933)

Not Rated | 44 min | Short, Comedy, Drama

In a repressive boarding school with rigid rules of behavior, four boys decide to rebel against the direction on a celebration day.

Director: Jean Vigo | Stars: Jean Dasté, Robert le Flon, Louis Lefebvre, Du Verron

Votes: 6,892

33. La Grande Illusion (1937)

Not Rated | 113 min | Drama, War

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.

Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim

Votes: 30,971 | Gross: $0.17M

34. City Girl (1930)

Passed | 90 min | Drama, Romance

A Chicago waitress falls in love with a Minnesota farmer, and decides to face a life in the country.

Director: F.W. Murnau | Stars: Charles Farrell, Mary Duncan, David Torrence, Edith Murgatroyd

Votes: 2,544

35. The Old Mill (1937)

Approved | 9 min | Animation, Short, Comedy

A variety of animals find a shelter in the old mill during a fierce storm.

Director: Wilfred Jackson | Stars: Marie Arbuckle, Jean MacMurray, Louise Myers, Clarence Nash

Votes: 3,096

36. A Story of Floating Weeds (1934)

Not Rated | 86 min | Drama

A kabuki actor's mistress hatches a jealous plot to bring down her lover's son.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Takeshi Sakamoto, Chôko Iida, Kôji Mitsui, Rieko Yagumo

Votes: 2,590

37. The 39 Steps (1935)

Not Rated | 86 min | Mystery, Thriller

A man in London tries to help a counter-espionage Agent. But when the Agent is killed, and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to save himself and stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Tearle

Votes: 46,649

38. Stagecoach (1939)

Not Rated | 96 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

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.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine

Votes: 37,978

39. My Man Godfrey (1936)

Not Rated | 94 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A scatterbrained socialite hires a vagrant as a family butler...but there's more to Godfrey than meets the eye.

Director: Gregory La Cava | Stars: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady, Gail Patrick

Votes: 18,683

40. Footlight Parade (1933)

Passed | 104 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

Chester Kent struggles against time, romance, and a rival's spy to produce spectacular live "prologues" for movie houses.

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell

Votes: 4,178

41. Top Hat (1935)

Not Rated | 101 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

An American dancer comes to Britain and falls for a model whom he initially annoyed, but she mistakes him for his goofy producer.

Director: Mark Sandrich | Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Erik Rhodes

Votes: 15,653 | Gross: $3.88M

42. Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Not Rated | 83 min | Comedy, Crime, Romance

A gentleman thief and a lady pickpocket join forces to con a beautiful perfume company owner. Romantic entanglements and jealousies confuse the scheme.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch | Stars: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall, Charles Ruggles

Votes: 11,696

43. Too Much Johnson (1938)

Not Rated | 67 min | Comedy

A woman has two lovers. When one man finds out about the other, he acts as a villain and chases after the protagonist.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Joseph Cotten, Virginia Nicolson, Edgar Barrier, Arlene Francis

Votes: 452

44. Little Caesar (1931)

Not Rated | 79 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A small-time criminal moves to a big city to seek bigger fortune.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Glenda Farrell, William Collier Jr.

Votes: 10,725

45. A Star Is Born (1937)

Passed | 111 min | Drama, Romance

77 Metascore

A young woman comes to Hollywood with dreams of stardom, but achieves them only with the help of an alcoholic leading man whose best days are behind him.

Directors: William A. Wellman, Jack Conway | Stars: Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou, May Robson

Votes: 7,600 | Gross: $4.36M

46. The Whole Town's Talking (1935)

Approved | 93 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

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: 1,878

47. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Not Rated | 75 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller

A man and his wife receive a clue to an imminent assassination attempt, only to learn that their daughter has been kidnapped to keep them quiet.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre, Frank Vosper

Votes: 15,194

48. Number 17 (1932)

TV-PG | 66 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller

A gang of thieves gather at a safe house following a robbery, but a detective is on their trail.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Leon M. Lion, Anne Grey, John Stuart, Donald Calthrop

Votes: 4,106

49. The Thin Man (1934)

Not Rated | 91 min | Comedy, Crime, Mystery

Former detective Nick Charles and his wealthy wife Nora investigate a murder case, mostly for the fun of it.

Director: W.S. Van Dyke | Stars: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton

Votes: 24,109