Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

The Underrated Thirties


TopBilled
 Share

Recommended Posts

The descent from 1933 to 1935 was like jumping off a cliff, as the Breen Code sanitized the industry to the point where it was little more than a combination of the Archdiocese of Chicago and a blue ribbon grand jury. It's not as if there wasn't some good writing and acting, but it was like trying to exercise in a solitary confinement cell: No room to breathe or stretch your legs.

 

Nevertheless, here are the top 10 movies of a lame year. Not one of them would have been anywhere near the top 10 just two years earlier:

 

1. Bordertown

2. Little Big Shot (Sybil Jason is sublime)

3. The Clairvoyant

4. A Night at the Opera (easily the Marx Brothers' best)

5. Romance in Manhattan

6. The Informer

7. The Whole Town's Talking

8. Dangerous

9. The Murder Man

10. Traveling Saleslady

 

Best of the rest: Black Fury; The Goose and the Gander; Whipsaw; Stranded; Dr. Socrates; Dangerous Corner; The 39 Steps; I Found Stella Parrish

 

Underrated: Little Big Shot; The Murder Man; Traveling Saleslady

Overrated: Bride of Frankenstein; Sylvia Scarlett

Have to see: The Devil Is a Woman; Toni

 

Best actor: Victor McLagen (The Informer)

Best actress: Bette Davis (Dangerous)

Best supporting actor: Sig Ruman (A Night at the Opera)

Best supporting actress: Sybil Jason (Little Big Shot)

 

 

Total number of movies viewed: About 60 - 70

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here are my lists for '33, '34 and '35. We're finally starting to get into the years where I've seen more films! Except 1935 seemed a bit sparse.

 

1933

 

King Kong

Duck Soup

She Done Him Wrong

Golddiggers of 1933

Bombshell

 

1934

 

The Thin Man

It Happened One Night

Babes in Toyland

Evelyn Prentice

Manhattan Melodrama

Tarzan and His Mate

 

1935

 

Captain Blood

A Night at the Opera

Top Hat

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My list for 1935 (what a great year):

 

1. ALICE ADAMS

2. THE LITTLEST REBEL

3. THE DARK ANGEL

4. MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION

5. LES MISERABLES

6. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY

7. RUGGLES OF RED GAP

8. A TALE OF TWO CITIES

9. BARBARY COAST

10. THE WEDDING NIGHT and DIAMOND JIM (tie)

 

Honorable Mentions: ANNIE OAKLEY; AH, WILDERNESS!; THE INFORMER; HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE; MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE; TOP HAT; and PETER IBBETSON.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I watched "Alice Adams" based on the pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant who are usually so great together.

 

...I found the plot difficult to follow. I thought that Hepburn did a great job masquerading as a boy, when dressed down and in male clothing, her facial features are androgynous enough to make her believable as a male. Grant's role was the most interesting as he was actually playing a villain, which was an interesting departure for him. Other than that, I'd have to say that this is probably one of my least favorite Hepburn and Grant movies.

 

But to each his own!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

*1936* at least has one genuinely great movie, but I miss all those gems from 1932 through the first half of 1934. 1946 can't get here fast enough.

 

1. Libeled Lady (up there with Bombshell as Hollywood's best comedy)

2. Reefer Madness (the movie Ed Wood should have made)

3. These Three

4. The Unguarded Hour*

5. Smart Blonde

6. Bullets or Ballots

7. Wife vs Secretary

8. The Petrified Forest

9. Modern Times

10. Fury

 

*Mistakenly put in 1935 earlier, but now corrected

 

Best of the rest: The Ex-Mrs. Bradford; Banjo on My Knee; The Black Legion; Suzy; The Man Who Lived Twice; Satan Met a Lady; After the Thin Man; My Man Godfrey (though it's also a bit overrated)

 

Underrated: These Three; The Unguarded Hour

Overrated: San Francisco; Mr. Deeds Goes To Town

Have to see: The Story of a Cheat; The Crime of Monsieur Lange

 

Best actor: William Powell and Spencer Tracy (Libeled Lady)

Best actress: Jean Harlow and Myrna Loy (Libeled Lady)

Best supporting actor: Walter Connolly (Libeled Lady)

Best supporting actress: Can't think of any who really stand out; too bad the Marx Brothers skipped 1936, or else it would have been Margaret Dumont

 

Total number of films viewed: About 65 - 70

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>I watched "Alice Adams" based on the pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant who are usually so great together...I found the plot difficult to follow. I thought that Hepburn did a great job masquerading as a boy

 

You're thinking of SYLIVA SCARLETT. ALICE ADAMS is a melodrama with Fred MacMurray.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My list for 1936:

 

1. SAN FRANCISCO

2. LIBELED LADY

3. MY MAN GODFREY

4. DODSWORTH

5. THE STORY OF LOUIS PASTEUR

6. THE GREAT ZIEGFELD

7. CAMILLE

8. MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN

9. REMBRANDT

10. SHOW BOAT

 

Honorable Mentions: THEODORA GOES WILD; THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE; CRAIG'S WIFE; COME AND GET IT; and THE PRESIDENT'S MYSTERY.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It warms the cockles of my hard heart that everyone loves Libeled Lady. I can't think of a single film where the top 5 parts were so masterfully cast, and where they all so perfectly complemented one another. Talk about star power!

 

Along with Bombshell, that's one of a very tiny handful of movies I could probably watch once a week and never get tired of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, I haven't yet contributrd to the threads of best per year, one because I havea hard time of selecting a few films.only,.and two, because i dont care for.laudry lists.with no explanation. I will attempt to now, with number being random.and.in no particular order, and confine my choices to Hollywood productions, as fhst seemed to be the intent originally.

 

1930:

 

HOLIDAY: Overlooked.by the better known remake, this version is quite good in its own. And a cast that has Ann Harding, Mary Astor.and Robert Ames.in the leads, with Edward.Everett Horton repeating his later characterization as Professor Potter.

 

COMMON CLAY: Melodrama which made Constance Bennett a superstar, with her a maid involved with the scion of a rich family.

 

UP THE RIVER: A spoof of the early prison film, with Spencer Tracy in his film debut, and Humphrey Bogart in one of very first roles. Directed by John Ford.

 

LILIOM: Frank Borzage directed this version of thr Molnar.classic about a cranval barker, Charles Farrell (without usual partner Janet Gaynor, who turned it down). Better known for the musical version, CAROUSEL.

 

MOROCCO: Dietrich and Sternberg in Hollywood, with Marlene's languid presence in a new svelte gleem.

 

THE SPOILERS: Dietrich's costar, Gary Cooper, in probably the best version of the oft filmed story of the Alaska gold.rush. Dietrich was in a later version.

 

THE DIVORCEE: Precode.Norma Shearer exeercising her acting chops. Won the Oscar for this.

 

PAID: Another drama, meant for Shearer, but who bowed because she was pregnant. It was then seized upon by Joan Crawford, who zhowed she could do these dramas effectively, and giving her a new template for her vehicles.

 

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT: One of the all time greatest antiwar films, still holds up very well.

 

FOR.THE DEFENSE and.STREET OF CHANCE: Both teamed.William Powell and Kay Francis at their sophisticated best.

 

THE DEVIL'S HOLIDAY, Nancy Carroll.at the top.of her game (and peak of her fame), in this oscar nominated performance as a gold digger.

 

THE DAWN PATROL. another film unjustly overlooked by it later remake. Richard Barthelemess and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., among others, directed by Howard Hawks.

 

THE MAN FROM BLANKLEYS and THE DEVIL TO PAY: Two drwaing room.comedies with Loretta Young, costarring with John Barrymore and Ronald Colman,.respectively.

 

RAFFLES: Ronald.Colman again, this ime as.the gentleman thief,.with Kay Francis. Much better than the remake.up

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Arturo, interesting lists for 1930. But isn't The Man from Blankley's a lost film? And, for that matter, may I ask where you were able to see a copy of The Spoilers? I thought it was buried in a vault.

 

If you saw Man from Blankley's that's great news. Again, though, may I ask where you saw it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw both films in the mid 1980s. Shortly after.high school,.a.friend.went to work at a.bank processing center,.and.made.some new friends. One of these lived in a bldg. where also lived an old man, who had tons of reels of film; he had worked.at.a movie distributor,.or something like fhat. Anyway,.my friend, also an early film buff, got invited,.and invited.me, to see films,.which we did once a.week for a.couple years. The man showed many early talkies,.and.would give.some background information. He stated.many were in bad condition, and some were very rare. TMFB was shown, in a poor but fairly complete.version, since my friend and I were Loretta Young fans. TS was also shown, since we were familiar with the later.version.

 

I dont know what happened to that man, or his films. late in the 80s , I lost touch with my friend for a few years, until shortly before he died in the early 90s of Aids.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Jan 12, 2014 11:25 AM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Arturo, that's really something that you were able to see prints of those two films. As I stated, The Man from Blankley's is now listed as an officially lost film, so you are one of the few people who can say he has seen it.

 

I've read that Barrymore plays his role throughout the film as though he is slightly inebriated, and gives a wonderfully rich comic portrayal. Do you, by chance, have any memories about his performance, one way or the other?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

*1938* has one perfect comedy and one great dramatic movie, plus many others that I'd want to watch again.

 

1. Bringing Up Baby

2. A Man to Remember

3. La Bete Humaine

4. Port of Shadows

5. The Lady Vanishes

6. Angels With Dirty Faces

7. Le Schpountz

8. Holiday

9. Wives Under Suspicion

10. The Duke Is Tops

 

Best of the Rest: Torchy Blane movies taken as an entry; Block-Heads; Swing Your Lady; The Crowd Roars; I Am The Law; Young Dr. Kildare; Law of the Underworld

 

Underrated: A Man to Remember

Overrated: The Mad Miss Manton; Jezebel

Have to see: Algiers; Alexander Nevsky; Olympia

 

Best actor: Edward Ellis (A Man to Remember)

Best actress: Katharine Hepburn (Bringing Up Baby)

Best supporting actor: Humphrey Bogart (Angels With Dirty Faces)

Best supporting actress: Dame May Whitty (The Lady Vanishes)

 

Total number of films seen: About 70 - 75

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm glad to see some love for the funny screwball comedy FOUR'S A CROWD and the fine SIDEWALKS OF LONDON, which has great performances by Vivien Leigh and Charles Laughton.

 

If we're including foreign films, PORT OF SHADOWS is the film of the year, as far as I'm concerned.

 

Edited by: kingrat on Jan 12, 2014 3:43 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Underrated 1939:

 

1. BLACKMAIL, with Edward G. Robinson

2. BARRICADE, with Alice Faye & Warner Baxter

3. ON THE NIGHT OF THE FIRE/THE FUGITIVE, with Ralph Richardson & Diana Wynyard

4. THE GIRL FROM MEXICO, with Lupe Velez

5. HEAVEN WITH A BARBED WIRE FENCE, with Richard Conte & Glenn Ford

6. KING OF THE UNDERWORLD, with Kay Francis & Humphrey Bogart

7. THEY SHALL HAVE MUSIC, with Joel McCrea & Andrea Leeds

8. A GIRL MUST LIVE, with Margaret Lockwood

9. FIVE CAME BACK, with Chester Morris & Lucille Ball

10.THREE TEXAS STEERS, with John Wayne & Carole Landis

 

My List for 1939:

 

1. THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME

2. DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK

3. THE WIZARD OF OZ

4. GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS

5. OF MICE AND MEN

6. WUTHERING HEIGHTS

7. LOVE AFFAIR

8. MIDNIGHT

9. MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON

10. THE LITTLE PRINCESS

 

Honorable Mentions: JESSE JAMES; THE ROARING TWENTIES; GONE WITH THE WIND; YOUNG MR. LINCOLN; and THE WOMEN.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's absolutely brutal to try to rank the movies of the 30's as a whole, so this time I'm sticking to the Hollywood product only. I guess I should have a quota system for actors and actresses, but no matter how I shuffle it, I still get 3 Harlows and 3 Stanwycks. But considering that the former is Hollywood's greatest comedienne and the latter is Hollywood's foremost overall actress (obligatory *IMO* inserted here :) ), I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that this is how they came out. I've added two (or three) more just to make it an even (baker's) dozen.

 

Best 12 American movies, *1930 - 1939*

 

1. Bombshell

2. I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang

3. So Big

4. Stella Dallas

5. Red-Headed Woman

6. Libeled Lady

7. Heroes For Sale

8. Baby Face

9. Rain

10. A Man to Remember

11. 42nd Street / Footlight Parade

12. Bringing Up Baby

 

What I love about TCM is that of all the above films, I'd only seen six of them (2, 6, 9, 11a, 11b, and 12) before late 2009. That was when I broke down and bought a DVD recorder that let me go 24/7 with the Now Playing guide. Hard to believe what I'd been missing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>It's absolutely brutal to try to rank the movies of the 30's as a whole

 

It looks like you did a good job. :)

 

We'll let some of the others catch up and post some more of their lists...but I plan to start a thread for the Underrated Sixties. I am going to do this all the way up to 2009. That gives us five more decades of classics to plow through!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once we get much past the 60's or 70's I'm not sure I've even seen enough movies to list more than a few for each year. I didn't really start watching lots of films until I got hooked on the AFI in the 70's, but that was mostly older movies that they were showing. And after that, as long as I had a shop I hardly had time to keep current with the newer films, which is why I'm always pulling for TCM to keep showing "classic" movies from *ALL* eras, so between that and Netflix I can begin to catch up. Compared to you and many of the other people here, I'm a total greenhorn when it comes to knowledge about all this stuff. The depth of knowledge I see exhibited here on a daily basis is truly humbling.

 

Me, I'm of the "I know what I like" school of film appreciation. :) But I'm always looking to get new insights by osmosis.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...