Best Movies Of The 1930s

Updated
Best Movies Of The 1930s

Thinking about Best Movies Of The 1930s, there are so many creators who explored this idea. Here are 25 of the top ones.

City Lights (1931)

City Lights
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Charles Chaplin, starring Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers
Rated G

City Lights is a 1931 romantic comedy film directed by Charles Chaplin. It stars Chaplin as a mute tramp who falls in love with a blind flower girl and helps her regain her sight. When the tramp meets a millionaire, he gives the tramp money to help the flower girl, not knowing it is the tramp who is helping her. The film follows the tramp through a series of comedic misadventures as he attempts to find the money to restore the flower girl's sight. The film ends with the tramp and the flower girl reunited and in love. City Lights is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time, receiving near-universal critical acclaim.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Gone with the Wind
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood, starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O'Neil
Rated Passed

Gone With the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film, adapted from Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel of the same name. The film follows the story of Scarlett O'Hara, a strong-willed Southern belle, from her romantic pursuit of Ashley Wilkes, whom she is forced to marry her husband, Rhett Butler. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era, the film follows the tumultuous romance between Scarlett and Rhett, the struggles and tragedies of the O'Hara family, and Scarlett's strong will to survive despite all odds. Scarlett is determined to rebuild her family's plantation, Tara, while Rhett, disgusted by Scarlett's lack of feelings towards him, eventually leaves her and the city of Atlanta. The film culminates with the burning of Tara, and Scarlett's realization that she still loves Rhett.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Frank Capra, starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold
Rated Passed

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a 1939 American political comedy-drama directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart as Jeff Smith, a naive and idealistic young man who is appointed to fill a vacant seat in the United States Senate. After arriving in Washington, Smith discovers a political machine controlled by his party's corrupt leaders. He soon realizes that he is being manipulated by the powerful interests of big business, and so he decides to fight back. Through a series of speeches, filibusters, and other acts of political courage and integrity, Smith ultimately prevails and manages to hold on to his seat in the Senate, becoming a symbol of hope for the citizens of his state.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

All Quiet on the Western Front
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Lewis Milestone, starring Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray, Arnold Lucy
Rated Passed

All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 war film directed by Lewis Milestone and starring Lew Ayres. It is based on the 1929 novel of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque. The film follows the story of a group of German World War I soldiers and their experiences at the front. In the trenches, the young soldiers witness the horrors of war and struggle to keep their sanity in the face of death, fear, and despair. The film ends with the same phrase that is used in the novel: “This is the end.” The film was praised for its realistic depiction of the horrors of war and was a box office success. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture and was a major influence on subsequent war films.

My Man Godfrey (1936)

My Man Godfrey
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Gregory La Cava, starring William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady, Gail Patrick
Rated Approved

My Man Godfrey is a 1936 screwball comedy directed by Gregory La Cava and starring William Powell and Carole Lombard. The film follows a wealthy family that hires a homeless man, Godfrey, to be their "forgotten man" for a scavenger hunt. Godfrey quickly proves himself to be an invaluable asset to the family, and he and the daughter of the family, Irene, soon develop feelings for each other. As Godfrey works for the family, he helps to bridge the divide between the servants and the family members and to expose the follies of the wealthy. In the end, he and Irene are happily reunited and married.

King Kong (1933)

King Kong
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher
Rated Passed

King Kong is a 1933 American pre-Code monster adventure film directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The film stars Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, and Bruce Cabot, and tells the story of a film crew who travel to a fictional island to search for a giant gorilla known as Kong. After capturing and displaying Kong, the film crew find themselves in danger when Kong escapes and begins to wreak havoc in New York City. Ultimately, Kong is killed after a series of battles with the military. The film was a critical and commercial success, becoming one of the highest grossing films of its time, and inspiring a number of sequels and spin-offs.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

The Adventures of Robin Hood
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley, starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains
Rated PG

The Adventures of Robin Hood is a 1938 American swashbuckler film directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley. The film stars Errol Flynn as the eponymous hero, Robin Hood, and Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian. The movie follows Robin Hood as he leads a revolt against the oppressive rule of the Sheriff of Nottingham and his evil master, Prince John. With the help of his Merry Men and Maid Marian, Robin Hood uses his cunning and skill to outwit the Sheriff and restore the throne to Richard the Lionheart. Along the way, he must also battle a scheming nobleman, who wants to marry Maid Marian and take control of the kingdom for himself. The movie features many of the classic Robin Hood adventures, including stealing from the rich to give to the poor and rescuing Maid Marian from a forced marriage. The climactic battle between Robin Hood and his Merry Men and the Sheriff and his men takes place in the forest and is one of the most iconic movie scenes of all time.

The Thin Man (1934)

The Thin Man
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From W.S. Van Dyke, starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton
Rated TV-PG

The Thin Man is a classic 1934 comedy-mystery film directed by W.S. Van Dyke. It stars William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, a wealthy married couple who solve murder mysteries. The story follows the couple as they travel to New York for the holidays to visit Nora's wealthy family. While there, they get mixed up in a murder case involving a missing inventor and a dangerous gang of criminals. With the help of their terrier Asta, Nick and Nora use their wits and charm to solve the case. Along the way, they prove that love, laughter, and a good sense of investigation can go a long way in solving even the most perplexing cases.

Stagecoach (1939)

Stagecoach
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From John Ford, starring John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine
Rated Passed

Stagecoach is a 1939 American Western film directed by John Ford starring John Wayne in his breakthrough role. The film follows a group of strangers who are forced to band together when they are left stranded in the middle of Apache territory. The travelers must now rely on each other in order to make it to safety and avoid the wrath of the marauding Indians. Along the way, each of the travelers has their own secrets and motivations, which creates an interesting dynamic amongst the group and leads to dramatic confrontations and the ultimate discovery of the true nature of each individual. The iconic John Wayne stars with Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine, and Andy Devine. The film is widely considered a classic of the Western genre and is seen as a major factor in launching John Wayne's career.

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The Bride of Frankenstein
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From James Whale, starring Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson
Rated Not Rated

The Bride of Frankenstein is a classic horror film from 1935 and the sequel to the 1931 classic Frankenstein. This time around, Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is pressed back into action by the scheming Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) to create a mate for his previous creation, the Monster (Boris Karloff). Through a series of events, Dr. Frankenstein succeeds in creating his Bride (Elsa Lanchester), and although they are initially terrified of each other, they soon develop a romantic attachment. But the Bride is quickly abandoned by the Monster and soon Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster find themselves facing off against the angry villagers who are looking to exact revenge against them. In the end, the Monster chooses to save the lives of his creator and his Bride by destroying the laboratory in a massive explosion, sacrificing himself in the process.

A Tale of Two Cities (1935)

A Tale of Two Cities
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Jack Conway, Robert Z. Leonard, starring Ronald Colman, Elizabeth Allan, Edna May Oliver, Reginald Owen
Rated Passed

A Tale of Two Cities is a 1935 American period drama film directed by Jack Conway and Robert Z. Leonard and starring Ronald Colman, Elizabeth Allan, Edna May Oliver, Basil Rathbone, and Reginald Owen. The film is based on Charles Dickens' 1859 historical novel A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The story focuses on Charles Darnay, a French emigrant who returns to Paris to rescue an innocent family from the guillotine during the Reign of Terror. He is aided by his friend, Sydney Carton, who ultimately sacrifices his own life to save those of Darnay and his family. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and a positive response from critics, who praised it for its faithfulness to Dickens' source material and its strong performances.

Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From James Whale, starring Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff, John Boles
Rated Passed

Frankenstein is a 1931 horror classic directed by James Whale and based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. It tells the story of a scientist, Dr. Frankenstein, who is obsessed with creating life. He creates a monster out of various body parts and brings it to life. The monster, played by Boris Karloff, quickly finds himself alone in the world and begins to wreak havoc. He is hunted down by the villagers who fear him and is eventually destroyed by Dr. Frankenstein when he realizes the terror his creation has caused. The film explores themes of life, death, and responsibility, as well as the consequences of science gone wrong. Frankenstein remains one of the most iconic horror films of all time.

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Bringing Up Baby
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Howard Hawks, starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles, Walter Catlett
Rated Passed

Bringing Up Baby is a classic screwball comedy from director Howard Hawks, starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. The story follows David, a paleontologist who is about to make a major scientific discovery, and Susan, a wealthy, eccentric heiress. When David meets Susan, he gets caught up in a wild and chaotic series of events. He ends up taking care of her pet leopard, Baby, and dealing with the antics of Susan and her Uncle Max. Throughout the movie, David and Susan find themselves in increasingly comic situations, and eventually fall in love. Eventually, David's discovery is made and all is set right.

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

The Lady Vanishes
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Alfred Hitchcock, starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, May Whitty
Rated Not Rated

In 1938's "The Lady Vanishes," directed by Alfred Hitchcock, socialite Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) embarks on a train journey across Europe when she notices an elderly governess, Miss Froy (May Whitty), suddenly vanish from the carriage. With the help of her new acquaintance, Gilbert (Michael Redgrave), Iris sets out to discover the truth about Miss Froy's disappearance. Along the way, they uncover a complex web of international espionage and a sinister plot to eliminate anyone who has knowledge of it. With the clock ticking, Iris and Gilbert must race against time to save Miss Froy from a fate worse than death.

The Awful Truth (1937)

The Awful Truth
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Leo McCarey, starring Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy, Alexander D'Arcy
Rated Passed

The Awful Truth is a classic screwball comedy from 1937, directed by Leo McCarey. The film focuses on the divorce proceedings of a wealthy couple, Jerry (Cary Grant) and Lucy (Irene Dunne). After a series of misunderstandings and misadventures, Lucy and Jerry both realize that they still love each other and try to win each other back. In the end, the couple reunite, but not without a few laughs along the way. The Awful Truth is a timeless classic, continuing to delight and captivate audiences to this day.

The Blue Angel (1930)

The Blue Angel
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Josef von Sternberg, starring Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Gerron, Rosa Valetti
Rated Passed

The Blue Angel is a 1930 German film directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich. The film is based on Heinrich Mann's novel Professor Unrat and tells the story of a respectable professor who becomes obsessed with a nightclub singer. When the professor's obsession leads him to abandon his position and his family, he finds himself in a downward spiral of humiliation and loss of dignity. Ultimately, the professor and the singer's paths cross again and he finds redemption. The film was an international success and helped to launch the career of Marlene Dietrich. It is seen today as a classic of German cinema and is widely regarded as a masterpiece of the early sound era.

Pépé le Moko (1937)

Pépé le Moko
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Julien Duvivier, starring Jean Gabin, Gabriel Gabrio, Saturnin Fabre, Fernand Charpin
Rated Not Rated

Pépé le Moko is a 1937 French crime film directed by Julien Duvivier. Set in the Casbah of Algiers, the film follows the life of Pépé (Jean Gabin), a notorious criminal who has escaped from prison and taken refuge in the quarter. Despite his success in avoiding capture by the police, Pépé feels trapped within the walls of the Casbah, longing for the freedom of Paris. After meeting the beautiful Gaby (Mireille Balin), Pépé is torn between his old life and the possibility of a new one. As the police close in, Pépé must make a decision that will define his future. With a gripping story, stunning visuals, and a star-making performance by Gabin, Pépé le Moko is a classic of French cinema and a masterpiece of the gangster genre.

Top Hat (1935)

Top Hat
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Mark Sandrich, starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Erik Rhodes
Rated Not Rated

Top Hat is a classic 1935 screwball musical comedy directed by Mark Sandrich. The film follows the romance between American dancer Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) and English singer Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers). The two meet by chance in London, and although Dale is initially put off by Jerry's awkward attempts at courtship, they eventually fall in love. As they become closer, complications arise when Jerry's old flame, a wealthy socialite, shows up and throws a wrench in their plans. The couple must fight to keep their relationship alive, but with the help of some musical numbers and a few misunderstandings, they eventually triumph. The charming cast and lighthearted story make Top Hat an enduring classic of the silver screen.

Captain Blood (1935)

Captain Blood
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Michael Curtiz, starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill, Basil Rathbone
Rated Passed

Captain Blood is an action-adventure swashbuckler film directed by Michael Curtiz. Set in the 17th century, the film follows a former doctor-turned-pirate, Peter Blood (Errol Flynn). After being unjustly sentenced to death, Blood and a group of other convicts escape, join forces as a pirate crew and seek revenge against their former captors. Along the way, they battle the Spanish navy and discover hidden treasures. Along the way, Blood also meets and falls in love with the beautiful Arabella Bishop (Olivia de Havilland). Eventually, Blood is able to take revenge against his former captors and clear his name, but he also finds that true freedom comes from being a pirate.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Directors: William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen, starring Adriana Caselotti, Harry Stockwell, Lucille La Verne, Roy Atwell
Rated Approved

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is an animated classic from 1937. It tells the story of Snow White, a young princess who is forced to flee from her jealous stepmother, the Evil Queen. She takes refuge in the forest and is soon discovered by seven dwarfs who take her in and care for her. The Evil Queen, desperate to be the "fairest of them all," orders a huntsman to bring Snow White’s heart back as proof of her death. The huntsman is unable to do so, however, and Snow White is able to escape. The Queen then attempts to kill Snow White using a poisoned apple, but the dwarfs discover her and find a way to revive her with true love’s kiss. In the end, Snow White and her prince live happily ever after. The film is considered one of the greatest animated films of all time, and the first full-length animated movie. Its vivid visuals, memorable songs and classic story have made it an enduring classic.

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Only Angels Have Wings
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Howard Hawks, starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Richard Barthelmess
Rated Passed

Only Angels Have Wings is a 1939 drama directed by Howard Hawks and starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, and Rita Hayworth. Set in a fictitious port town in South America, the film follows a group of aviators working for a dangerous mail delivery service, risking their lives every time they take off in their planes. The story focuses on the relationships between the characters and the danger they face, as they battle poor weather, treacherous mountains, and other obstacles just to deliver the mail. As the characters grapple with the dangers of their jobs, they must also face the personal issues that arise in the small, close-knit community. With dynamic action sequences and gripping drama, Only Angels Have Wings shows the consequences of loyalty and courage in the face of high odds.

Beau Geste (1939)

Beau Geste
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From William A. Wellman, starring Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston, Brian Donlevy
Rated Passed

Beau Geste is a 1939 American adventure film starring Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston and Brian Donlevy. Directed by William A. Wellman, it is an adaptation of the 1924 novel of the same name by Percival Christopher Wren. The film tells the story of three brothers who enlist in the French Foreign Legion to allow their adopted brother to keep the family fortune. After the brothers arrive at their post in the Sahara Desert, they discover a hidden treasure and soon find themselves in a life and death struggle with a gang of brutal thieves. Along the way, the brothers must face betrayal, hard choices, and a desert filled with enemies. Ultimately, the brothers must decide how far they will go to protect each other and the treasure.

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

Young Mr. Lincoln
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From John Ford, starring Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver, Arleen Whelan
Rated Passed

Young Mr. Lincoln is a 1939 American biographical drama film directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda as Abraham Lincoln. The film chronicles the early life of the 16th U.S. President, focusing on his early career as a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, and his relationship with Ann Rutledge (played by Mary Howard). In addition to presenting the development of Lincoln's relationships and career, the film also highlights his values and ideals with regards to justice, slavery, and the Constitution. The film also includes several imagined scenes and conversations, as well as some historic events such as the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. The film ends with Lincoln's 1861 inauguration as President of the United States.

David Copperfield (1935)

David Copperfield
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From George Cukor, starring Freddie Bartholomew, Frank Lawton, Edna May Oliver, Elizabeth Allan
Rated Passed

The Gay Divorcee (1934)

The Gay Divorcee
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Mark Sandrich, starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Alice Brady, Edward Everett Horton
Rated Approved

 



Related Articles

Visitors also search for: Movies About Grandparents And Grandchildren Movies About The Black Panthers Movies About Mental Illness Movies About Rockets Best Mindtrip Movies Dysfunctional Family Movies Movies About Violence