1930’s

[7] An eccentric recluse hunts shipwrecked humans on a remote jungle island in The Most Dangerous Game, one of the earliest successful ‘talkies’. The film’s creative team (including producer Willis O’Brien and director Ernest B. Schoedsack) would next bring us King Kong, and the two films have a lot in common — large jungle sets, a screaming Fay Wray, brisk action, pioneering visual effects, and …

[7] It’s fun to watch Greta Garbo defrost in Ninotchka.  She plays an oh-so-serious Russian sent to Paris to straighten out the sale of some allegedly stolen jewels. Melvyn Douglas gets in her way. At first, he’s an annoyance, but a curious one. Her no-nonsense attitude toward him makes for a unlikely cinematic romance. The highlight of their courtship is a restaurant scene where Douglas …

[8] You know you’re in for a harrowing journey when the ship’s captain gives a dead man 300 lashes before the ship even leaves port. Charles Laughton steals the show here as the torturous Captain Bligh, a greedy monster who plays recklessly with the lives of his crew. Clark Gable is charismatic as Fletcher Christian, the man who leads the uprising against Bligh (and without …

[10] Those ruby slippers have lost no luster in the 80-plus years since the original release of The Wizard of Oz, a film that pretty much defines ‘timeless classic’. In the L. Frank Baum story, a spoiled farm girl named Dorothy (Judy Garland) is whisked away in a tornado to the magical land of Oz, where a good witch (Billie Burke) sends her down the …

[10] Directed by George Stevens and inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s poem, Gunga Din is the story of three indomitable British soldiers who find themselves at the center of a battle against the bloodthirsty Thuggee cult. Captured and enslaved with an aspiring water boy (the title character), the men endanger their lives to thwart an ambush of the British army coming to rescue them. Gunga Din …

[9] John Ford’s masterpiece is still a thoroughly entertaining ride. A handful of disparate personalities, including John Wayne as the notorious Ringo Kid, take their chances traveling through Apache territory. Along the way, friends and enemies are made, a baby is born, a seemingly doomed romance blooms, and not everyone makes it to their destination alive.

[10] Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant give marvelous slapstick performances in Howard Hawks’ farcical masterpiece, Bringing Up Baby. This is my favorite screwball comedy of them all. The mismatched characters are forced into couple-hood through their shared adventures trying to recapture Hepburn’s lost pet leopard. Matters are complicated when another leopard escapes from the local zoo and the two animals get mixed up. By the …

[8] Spencer Tracy won his second (consecutive) Academy Award for his portrayal of Father Flanagan, a man who firmly believed “there are no bad boys.” In the movie and in real life, Flanagan built an educational refuge for homeless and delinquent boys to prove his theory, and the facility still operates today. Mickey Rooney plays the toughest of Flanagan’s kids, a boy whose defiance and …

[9] Somewhere along the way, Hollywood forgot how to make good romantic comedies. Because there are plenty of them to be found in the ’30s and ’40s, with Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night being chief among them. Claudette Colbert plays a rich gal running away from what is essentially an arranged marriage. After she bumps into a reporter played by Clark Gable on a …

[9] The grand-daddy of ‘anti-war’ war movies is Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front, the first non-musical ‘talkie’ to win the best picture Academy Award. The film is stylistically way ahead of its time, with sweeping camera movement, realistic (non-theatrical) acting, deep layers of action in the photography, and sophisticated action choreography — all of which you just don’t see in most other …

1 13 14 15