My favorite films from the 1930s

by tommy_leazaq | created - 29 Mar 2014 | updated - 25 May 2019 | Public

Last Seen: Shanghai Express

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1. City Lights (1931)

G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

99 Metascore

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: 170,812 | Gross: $0.02M

2. Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Passed | 102 min | Comedy, Family, Romance

91 Metascore

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: 55,967

3. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

PG | 102 min | Action, Adventure, Romance

97 Metascore

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.

Directors: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley | Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains

Votes: 47,764 | Gross: $3.98M

4. Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Passed | 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: 12,788

5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Passed | 129 min | Comedy, Drama

73 Metascore

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.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold

Votes: 108,510 | Gross: $9.60M

6. Beau Geste (1939)

Passed | 112 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

69 Metascore

Three adopted English brothers join the French Foreign Legion in North Africa, after one of them steals their adoptive family's famous heirloom sapphire.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston, Brian Donlevy

Votes: 5,601

7. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)

Not Rated | 122 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

A criminal mastermind uses hypnosis to rule the rackets after death.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Otto Wernicke, Thomy Bourdelle, Gustav Diessl

Votes: 11,648

8. Stagecoach (1939)

Passed | 96 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

93 Metascore

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: 44,608

9. Pygmalion (1938)

Not Rated | 89 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A phonetics and diction expert makes a bet that he can teach a cockney flower girl to speak proper English and pass as a lady in high society.

Directors: Anthony Asquith, Leslie Howard | Stars: Leslie Howard, Wendy Hiller, Wilfrid Lawson, Marie Lohr

Votes: 8,038 | Gross: $3.05M

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

Passed | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

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: 11,912

11. 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: 222,221 | Gross: $0.16M

12. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Passed | 152 min | Drama, War

91 Metascore

A German youth eagerly enters World War I, but his enthusiasm wanes as he gets a firsthand view of the horror.

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

Votes: 57,859 | Gross: $3.27M

13. The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

Passed | 116 min | Biography, Drama

The biopic of the famous French muckraking writer and his involvement in fighting the injustice of the Dreyfuss Affair.

Director: William Dieterle | Stars: Paul Muni, Gale Sondergaard, Joseph Schildkraut, Gloria Holden

Votes: 7,326

14. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

Passed | 176 min | Biography, Drama, Musical

The ups and downs of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., famed producer of extravagant stage revues, are portrayed.

Director: Robert Z. Leonard | Stars: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Luise Rainer, Frank Morgan

Votes: 7,370

15. Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

Passed | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

A wealthy composer rescues unemployed Broadway performers with a new play.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, Ruby Keeler

Votes: 7,448 | Gross: $4.80M

16. Top Hat (1935)

Not Rated | 101 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

92 Metascore

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: 17,748 | Gross: $3.88M

17. A Star Is Born (1937)

Passed | 111 min | Drama, Romance

77 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 8,920 | Gross: $4.36M

18. Footlight Parade (1933)

Passed | 104 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

80 Metascore

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: 4,988

19. It Happened One Night (1934)

Approved | 105 min | Comedy, Romance

87 Metascore

A renegade reporter and a crazy young heiress meet on a bus heading for New York, and end up stuck with each other when the bus leaves them behind at one of the stops.

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

Votes: 95,811 | Gross: $4.36M

20. M (1931)

Passed | 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: 146,082 | Gross: $0.03M

21. Duck Soup (1933)

Not Rated | 69 min | Comedy, Musical, War

93 Metascore

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: 56,104

22. Midnight (1939)

Passed | 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: 4,491

23. 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: 5,047

24. Flunky, Work Hard! (1931)

29 min | Short, Comedy

The story of a poor insurance salesman who struggles to provide for his wife and family.

Director: Mikio Naruse | Stars: Shizue Akiyama, Seiichi Katô, Tomoko Naniwa, Tokio Seki

Votes: 416

25. Bimbo's Initiation (1931)

Not Rated | 6 min | Animation, Short, Comedy

Bimbo the dog is initiated into a secret society in a sadistic 'fun house'; then Betty Boop (with dog's ears) takes a hand.

Directors: Dave Fleischer, Grim Natwick | Stars: Billy Murray, Mae Questel

Votes: 1,433

26. Lost Horizon (1937)

Approved | 132 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

When a wise diplomat's plane crashes in the snows of Tibet, he and the other survivors are guided to Shangri-La, where they wrestle with the invitation to stay.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, Edward Everett Horton, John Howard

Votes: 12,167

27. Sabotage (1936)

Not Rated | 76 min | Crime, Thriller

85 Metascore

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.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Sylvia Sidney, Oskar Homolka, Desmond Tester, John Loder

Votes: 15,278

28. The Roaring Twenties (1939)

Passed | 106 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

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: 13,020

29. My Man Godfrey (1936)

Not Rated | 94 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

82 Metascore

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: 21,588

30. Libeled Lady (1936)

Passed | 98 min | Comedy, Romance

When a socialite sues a big paper for libel, the editor responsible calls in the help of his ignored fiancée and a former employee to frame her and make the false story seem true.

Director: Jack Conway | Stars: Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy

Votes: 7,219

31. Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

Passed | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A priest tries to stop a gangster from corrupting a group of street kids.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan

Votes: 20,086

32. 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: 3,834

33. The Blue Angel (1930)

Not Rated | 104 min | Drama, Music

88 Metascore

An elderly professor's ordered life spins dangerously out of control when he falls for a nightclub singer.

Director: Josef von Sternberg | Stars: Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Gerron, Rosa Valetti

Votes: 13,950 | Gross: $0.08M

34. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

Passed | 117 min | Drama, Romance

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.

Director: William Dieterle | Stars: Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara, Cedric Hardwicke, Thomas Mitchell

Votes: 10,542 | Gross: $3.27M

35. Then Came the Yawn (1934)

6 min | Short, Comedy

Parody trailers are a dime-a-dozen now but they were a real novelty when this short from Educational Pictures ("The spice of the program!") appeared in movie houses. Its satire of "coming ... See full summary »

Directors: Ben K. Blake, Max E. Hayes

Votes: 7

36. Clock Cleaners (1937)

Approved | 9 min | Animation, Short, Comedy

Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are cleaning a large clock. Among the complications: Mickey fights a sleeping stork that doesn't want to leave, Donald gets tangled up in the main-spring, and Goofy is inside the bell when the clock strikes four.

Director: Ben Sharpsteen | Stars: Pinto Colvig, Walt Disney, James MacDonald, Clarence Nash

Votes: 2,234

37. Love Me Tonight (1932)

Passed | 104 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

A Parisian tailor finds himself posing as a baron in order to collect a sizeable bill from an aristocrat, only to fall in love with an aloof young princess.

Director: Rouben Mamoulian | Stars: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Charles Ruggles, Charles Butterworth

Votes: 3,657

38. The Music Box (1932)

Approved | 29 min | Comedy, Short

Like the legendary Sisyphus, deliverymen Laurel and Hardy struggle to push a large crated piano up a seemingly insurmountable flight of stairs.

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Dinah, Billy Gilbert

Votes: 6,838

39. Thru the Mirror (1936)

Approved | 9 min | Animation, Short, Comedy

Mickey has been reading Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There", and falls asleep. He finds himself on the other side of the mirror, where the furniture is ... See full summary »

Director: David Hand | Stars: Billy Bletcher, Pinto Colvig, James MacDonald, Clarence Nash

Votes: 2,093

40. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Passed | 132 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

87 Metascore

First mate Fletcher Christian leads a revolt against his sadistic commander, Captain Bligh, in this classic seafaring adventure, based on the real-life 1788 mutiny.

Director: Frank Lloyd | Stars: Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, Herbert Mundin

Votes: 21,167

41. Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations (1938)

Not Rated | 111 min | Documentary, Sport

The document of the 1936 Olympics at Berlin.

Director: Leni Riefenstahl | Stars: David Albritton, Arvo Askola, Jack Beresford, Erwin Blask

Votes: 4,450

42. Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty (1938)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Sport

The document of the 1936 Olympics at Berlin, orchestrated as Nazi propaganda.

Director: Leni Riefenstahl | Stars: Sheigo Arai, Jack Beresford, Ralf Berzsenyi, Ferenc Csík

Votes: 3,676

43. The Women (1939)

Not Rated | 133 min | Comedy, Drama

A study of the lives and romantic entanglements of various interconnected women.

Director: George Cukor | Stars: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland

Votes: 12,754 | Gross: $2.27M

44. The Informer (1935)

Approved | 91 min | Crime, Drama

65 Metascore

In 1922, an Irish rebel informs on his friend, then feels doom closing in.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Victor McLaglen, Heather Angel, Preston Foster, Margot Grahame

Votes: 5,817

45. The Blood of a Poet (1932)

Not Rated | 55 min | Fantasy

A young artist draws a face at a canvas on his easel. Suddenly the mouth on the drawing comes into life and starts talking. The artist tries to wipe it away with his hand, but when he looks... See full summary »

Director: Jean Cocteau | Stars: Enrique Rivero, Elizabeth Lee Miller, Pauline Carton, Odette Talazac

Votes: 6,092

46. Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932)

Not Rated | 85 min | Comedy

7.3