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Top 10 Favourite Films of the 1930s

The 1930s were a decade of great political and economic turmoil. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the entire world was consumed by an economic downfall called the Great Depression, which led to widespread unemployment and poverty. As a result, authoritarian political movements emerged in several countries in South America and Europe. Notorious among them was Adolf Hitler's Third Reich in Germany, whose expansionist policy resulted in the outbreak of World War II a few months before the end of the decade. In between, Gandhi walked to the Arabian Sea in the Salt March, a civil war established an authoritarian dictatorship in Spain, the Hindenburg exploded over New Jersey, Amelia Earhart became the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and the Empire of Japan invaded China.

Gandhi and his followers during the Salt March (March-April 1930). Japanese troops entering Manchuria (September 1931). The Hindenburg disaster (May 1937). German troops marching to Poland (September 1939).
In such uncertain times as these, the world needed an escape, a pure fantastical escape that made people forget the hardships that were turning their lives upside down. And that was exactly what Hollywood gave them. From spectacular musical extravaganzas to exciting swashbuckling adventures to witty screwball comedies, the 1930s were the decade that made Hollywood. So far, I have watched 209 films produced in the 1930s. From those, I picked out my top 10 favorites. It was not easy, but I think I am happy with my choices.
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch | Starring Gary Cooper, Claudette Colbert and David Niven

An impoverish aristocratic marries a millionaire banker she meets in the French Riviera and decides to teach him a lesson, after discovering that he has already been married seven times. Supreme commedienne Claudette Colbert plays the impoverish aristocrat and All-American Gary Cooper plays the millionaire banker. David Niven and Edward Everett Horton provide even more hilarious comedy bits. Honestly, what's not to like?
9. Gone with the Wind (1939)
Directed by Victor Fleming | Starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Olivia de Havilland
Vivien Leigh spends three hours running away from Clark Gable and when she finally realizes that she loves and needs him, he doesn't give a damn about her. Serves her right, too.

8. Love is News (1937)
Directed by Tay Garnett | Starring Tyrone Power, Loretta Young and Don Ameche

Tyrone Power and Loretta Young are without a doubt the single most attractive movie pairing that has ever graced our screens. If you don't believe me, just watch Love is News.
Directed by Alfred Santell, Starring Ginger Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Red Skelton

Ginger Rogers plays an office girl who falls in love with a law student-turned-waiter while vacationing at a camp in the Catskill Mountains. The waiter is played by Douglas Fairbanks Jr., so of course she would fall in love with him. Who wouldn't? Also, Red Skelton and his donuts make their first screen appearance, and Lucille Ball and Eve Arden add some more comedy bits.
Directed by Howard Hawks | Starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and May Robson

Mix an awkward Cary Grant, a frisky Katharine Hepburn and a cute leopard named Baby and what do you get? One of the kookiest, zaniest comedies of all time. And also one of the best.
Directed by Frank Capra | Starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur and Claude Rains

James Stewart was nominated for an Academy Award with this film and they gave it to Bob Donuts, I mean, Robert Donat, for Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939). Well, you can't always get it right.
4. Vivacious Lady (1938)
Directed by George Stevens | Starring Ginger Rogers, James Stewart and Charles Coburn

James Stewart and Ginger Rogers had a bit of thing going on when they made Vivacious Lady. Watching the film, I kind of wished they had stayed together forever.
3. Small Town Girl (1936)
Directed by William A. Wellman | Starring Robert Taylor, Janet Gaynor and Binnie Barnes

Robert Taylor and Janet Gaynor in same film. It shouldn't work, but guess what? It does! 
2. The Thin Man (1934)
Directed by W. S. Van Dyke | Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy and Skippy

If there was ever such a thing as soulmates, I'd say William Powell and Myrna Loy were it. They were just perfectly suited to each other. The Thin Man and its sequels are proof of that.
Directed by Frank Capra | Starring Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert and Water Connolly

Watching It Happened One Night and seeing the incredible chemistry and rapport that Frank Capra was able to create between Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, I would never have guessed in a million years that neither one of them wanted to make the film in the first place.
And that's it. These are, as of this moment, my top 10 favorite films of the 1930s. Were you surprised by my choices? Did I mentioned any of your own favorites?


  1. Hi Catia. I'm not sure if you will receive this comment, as I'm having problems commenting from my Wordpress account, and I can't find a more direct way to contact you. I just thought I would drop by to invite you to participate in my next blogathon. Here is the link below with more details.

  2. Great list! It's so hard to get it down to 10 isn't it. I haven't seen 7, 8, or 10.

    Welcome back!!!


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