Greatest Films of the 1930s
Greatest Films of the 1930s

Greatest Films of the 1930s

1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939


L'Age D'Or (1930, Fr.) (aka The Age of Gold), 60 minutes, D: Luis Bunuel

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), 131 minutes, D: Lewis Milestone
Based on the anti-war novel by Erich Maria Remarque and one of the best anti-war films. Best Picture award winning film. It is about the experiences of a group of young, patriotic, German schoolboys during World War I. They volunteer to serve their country in 1914, fighting in the trenches on the Western Front battlefields, quickly finding that their illusions of glory are shattered. With innovative uses of a giant crane to provide sweeping views. A powerful, grim and poignant masterpiece.

Animal Crackers (1930), 98 minutes, D: Victor Heerman
The second Marx Brothers film. Another zany, rapid-fire, anarchic hit. A valuable painting has disappeared from the home of wealthy Mrs. Rittenhouse (Margaret Dumont), and African big-game hunter Captain Spaulding (Groucho Marx) is called upon to find it.

Anna Christie (1930), 86 minutes, D: Clarence Brown
A film adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's play. One of the earliest talkies, noted for the film in which silent star Greta Garbo first speaks. Her first line of dialogue: "Gimme a viskey..." Garbo plays an ex-prostitute who returns home to locate her barge captain father. She falls in love with a seaman (Charles Bickford), and must tell him and her father about her past.

The Big House (1930), 84 minutes, D: George Hill
One of the earliest and most realistic of prison pictures, with Wallace Beery as condemned prison inmate Machine Gun Butch, a murderous cell-block leader. The film's highlights include a jailbreak to escape from sadistic guards and a bloody massacre. Used by many subsequent dramatic prison films as a model.

The Blue Angel (1930, Germ.) (aka Der Blaue Engel), 99 minutes, D: Josef von Sternberg

The Devil's Holiday (1930), 78 minutes, D: Edmund Goulding
A manipulative manicurist Hallie Hobart (Nancy Carroll) schemes to marry a millionaire's son David Stone (Phillips Holmes), but is opposed by the young man's father Ezra Stone (Hobart Bosworth) and brother Mark (James Kirkwood). She offers to divorce him if paid $50,000. After leaving, her conscience begins to take over and she takes solace in parties and drink. Meanwhile, David is seriously ill as a result of a fall suffered in a fight over her with his brother. She returns to the side of her seriously-ill ex-husband, realizing she really loves him, and she also returns the $50,000.

The Divorcee (1930), 83 minutes, D: Robert A. Leonard
A melodrama that was regarded as hot and racy in its day. Jerry (Norma Shearer) marries newspaperman Ted (Chester Morris), but then when he becomes a flirtatious philanderer with an ex-girlfriend, the recently divorced Janice (Mary Doran), Jerry decides to divorce him and live the adventurous single life as a wayward wife, matching his behavior. After a series of sexual escapades and two weeks on a yacht in the summer with married (but separated) former beau Paul (Conrad Nagel), she selflessly returns and is reconciled to her husband on New Year's Eve in Paris.

Earth (1930, USSR) (aka Zemlya), 75 minutes, D: Aleksandr Dovzhenko

Hell's Angels (1930), 135 minutes, D: Howard R. Hughes
Two brothers, Monte (Ben Lyon) and Roy Rutledge (James Hall) leave Oxford to join the British Royal Flying Corps and become fliers during World War I. Both brothers are rivals for the love of beautiful "Platinum Blonde", sexy siren Helen (an 18 year old Jean Harlow), who has fickle, two-timing affections. With sensational aerial photography. At $3.8 million, the most expensive film to date.

Little Caesar (1930), 79 minutes, D: Mervyn LeRoy
Considered as a milestone film which launched the gangster genre. Cesare Enrico Bandello/"Little Caesar" (Edward G. Robinson), a small-time hood and merciless killer, rises to power at the top of the mob in the underworld. A fast-paced crime story, with lots of gunfire, robberies, killings, and implicit violence. Known for one of the most memorable closing lines in films, at Rico's death scene: "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?"

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