Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Favorite Films of the 1930s

A Spanish magazine “Miradas de Cine” has conducted a poll and asked Spanish and a few abroad critics to select their 15 favorite films from the glorious 1930s and also to pick five that supposed to be overrated films. I have nothing to do with the latter part because I don’t believe if overrating of the classic films, when the creatures of them are all gone, will do any harm to us. As long as overrating is concerned, the predictable record breaker of the poll in Gone with the wind. But in my view, if we are really looking for overblown titles we must take a look around ourselves and revise some internationally accepted names and films in contemporary cinema.

Selecting top films of the 1930s is an irresistible poll to participate in. For me, one of the most essential periods in history of motion pictures is thirties and those early efforts to make something decent and artistic out of the new technical inventions like sound and later, color, while economical depression and fascism were the most serious issues of the time and maybe the whole century.

My real mentor in thirties cinema of the United States is Mr. Andrew Sarris. Writings of this wise man have been my companion in the worst and hardest days of my life and I owe him much for unveiling so many names of that era to me. So I’m going to pick my top 15 films of decade (sticking to the rules of Miradas de Cine!), but meanwhile I’m going to add another 50 titles to my selection! I must admit that my knowledge of 1930s cinema in Spanish language countries, far eastern cinema and also Italy is very limited.

You can see the complete lists in “Miradas de Cine” site, but if you are only looking for critics who are well-known outside Spain, these are the names and their picks:

Nicole Brenez (Paris) - À Propos de Nice (Vigo) • Lot in Sodom (Watson & Webber) • Lichtspiel Schwarz-Weiss-Grau (Moholy-Nagy) • L’âge d’or (Buñuel) • Le fleuve Sumida (Amaya) • Limite (Peixoto) • Taris ou la natation (Vigo) • Les Berceaux (Kirsanoff) • Que viva Mexico (Eisenstein) • L’Or des mers (Epstein) • Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey (Dreyer) • Le Bonheur (Medvedkine) • Rapt (Kirsanoff) • Rainbow Dance (Lye) • Early Abstractions (Smith)

Sergi Fabregat - City Lights (Chaplin) • L’Atalante (Vigo) • Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey (Dreyer) • Modern Times (Chaplin) • M (Lang) • The Roaring Twenties (Walsh) • Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (Lang) • Aleksandr Nevskiy (Eisenstein) • A Night at the Opera (Wood) • La grande illusion (Renoir) • Bride of Frankenstein (Whale) • Freaks (Browning) • Duck Soup (McCarey) • Otona no miru ehon – Umarete wa mita keredo (Ozu) • White Zombie (Halperin)

Floreal Peleato (Paris) - Zemlya (Dovzhenko) • Ze soboty na nedeli (Machatý) • Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (Murnau) • City Lights (Chaplin) • La chienne (Renoir) • Liebelei (Ophüls) • Das testament des Dr. Mabuse (Lang) • Only Yesterday (Stahl) • L’Atalante (Vigo) • U samogo sinyego morya (Barnet) • Make Way for Tomorrow (McCarey) • La grande illusion (Renoir) • Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks) • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Capra) • Remorques (Grémillon) • Zangiku monogatari (Mizoguchi)

Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago) - Laughter (d’Arrast) • City Lights (Chaplin) • M (Lang) • La nuit du carrefour (Renoir) • Ivan (Dovzhenko) • Otona no miru ehon - Umarete wa mita keredo (Ozu) • Love Me Tonight (Mamoulian) • Scarface (Hawks) • Trouble in Paradise (Lubitsch) • Hallelujah, I’m a Bum (Milestone) • L’Atalante (Vigo) • Judge Priest (Ford) • King Kong (Cooper & Schoedsack) • Make Way for Tomorrow (McCarey) • Zangiku monogatari (Mizoguchi)

Chris Fujiwara (United States) - La règle du jeu (Renoir) • Young Mr. Lincoln (Ford) • Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks) • Zemlya (Dovzhenko) • L’Atalante (Vigo) • You Only Live Once (Lang) • Naniwa erejî (Mizoguchi) • Stage Door (La Cava) • Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (Murnau) • Tsuma yo bara no yo ni (Naruse) • City Lights (Chaplin) • Les perles de la couronne (Guitry) • Otona no miru ehon – Umarete wa mita keredo (Ozu) • Me and My Gal (Walsh) • Design for Living (Lubitsch)

And here is my list of 15 (+50) films of the 1930s, dedicated to Andrew Sarris:

City Lights
1931 Charlie Chaplin
L'Atalante 1934 Jean Vigo
M 1931 Fritz Lang
Le Règle du jeu 1939 Jean Renoir
Only Angels have wings 1939 Howard Hawks
My Man Godfrey 1936 Gregory La Cava
Stagecoach 1939 John Ford
Roaring Twenties 1939 Raoul Walsh
Steamboat Round The Bend 1935 John Ford
Partie de campagne 1936 Jean Renoir
Scarface 1932 Howard Hawks
Crime de Monsiuer Lange 1936 Jean Renoir
Dawn Patrol 1938 Edmund Goulding
Destry rides again 1939 George Marshal
Pépé le Moko 1937 Julien Duvivier


And the next 50, without any specific order:

À nous la liberté 1931 Rene Clair
Bete humaine,La 1938 Jean Renoir
Grand Illusion 1937 Jean Renoir
Boudu Saved from Drowning 1932 Jean Renoir
Dead End 1937 William Wyler
Holiday 1938 George Cukor
Informer 1935 John Ford
Propose de Nice, A 1930 Jean Vigo
Le quai des brumes
1938 Marcel Carne
Young Mr.Lincoln 1939 John Ford
Zéro de conduite 1933 Jean Vigo
Alice Adams 1935 George Stevens
All quiet on the western front 1930 Lewis Milestone
I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang 1932 Mervyn LeRoy
Judge Priest 1934 John Ford
Little Caesar 1930 Mervyn LeRoy
Night At The Opera, A 1935 Sam Wood
Road to Glory 1936 Howard Hawks
Scarlet Empress 1934 Joseph Von Sternberg
Vampyr 1932 Carl Th. Dreyer
Whole Towns Talking 1935 John Ford
Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse 1933 Fritz Lang
39 Steps 1935 Alfred Hitchcock
42nd Street 1933 Lloyd Bacon
Blonde Venus 1932 Josef Von Sternberg
Blood of a Poet 1930 Jean Cocteau
Bringing up baby 1938 Howard Hawks
Day At The Races,A 1937 Sam Wood
Dinner At Eight
1933 George Cukor
Dishonored 1931 Josef von Sternberg
Gay Divorcee 1934 Mark Sandrich
Invisible Man,The 1933 James Whale
King Kong 1933 Ernest B.Schoedsack & M.Cooper
L'Age D'or 1930 Luis Bunuel
Modern Times 1936 Charlie Chaplin
Mr. Deeds goes to town 1936 Frank Capra
Mr. Smith goes to Washington 1939 Frank Capra
Ninotchka 1939 Ernst Lubitsch
Top Hat 1935 Mark Sandrich
Twentieth century 1934 Howard Hawks
Under the roofs of Paris 1930 Rene Clair
Alexander Nevsky 1938 Sergei Eisenstein
Black Cat 1934 Edgar G. Ulmer
Frankenstein 1931 James Whale
Design for living 1933 Ernst Lubitsch
Devil Is a Woman 1935 Josef Von Sternberg
Duck Soup 1933 Leo McCarey
Fury 1936 Fritz Lang
It happened one night 1934 Frank Capra
Lady Vanishes 1938 Alfred Hitchcock
Peter Ibbetson 1935 Henry Hathaway
Petrified Forest, The 1936 Archie Mayo
Public Enemy 1931 William Wellman
Ruggles of Red Gap 1935 Leo McCarey
Plainsman 1936 Cecil B.DeMille
Tabu 1931 F.W.Murnau
Triumph Of The Will 1935 Leni Riefentahl
Women 1939 George Cukor
You can't take it with you 1938 Frank Capra
You Only Live Once 1937 Fritz Lang


Thanks to Jonathan Rosenbaum for notifying me about the event.

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