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Decade: 1930s
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Jamaica Inn 1939

108
Talky
UK

Mostly known as the last British film Hitchcock made before leaving to Hollywood, Jamaica Inn is an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's 1936 novel of the same name. Although considered to be one of Hitchcock's worst films, it is still certainly worth watching. Hitchcock captures quite vividly the dark atmosphere of the novel, and Charles Laughton acting as Squire Pengallon, the vicious head of a gang of smugglers is superb.

Sabotage 1936

76
Talky
UK

Loosely Based on Joseph Conrad's 1907 novel " The Secret Agent", Sabotage is one of Hitchcock's most overlooked films. however, it is a tense thriller, one of his best British films and a true cinematic masterpiece. Sylvia Sidney is the young wife of a London movie-theatre owner who maintains a secret life as a paid terrorist. Slowly she realizes that her husband is a monster.

A Farewell to Arms 1932

80
Talky
USA

A tale of the love between ambulance driver Lt. Henry and Nurse Catherine Barkley during World War I. The action takes place in Italy and the two fall in love during the war and will stop at nothing to be together. The film also analyses Lt. Henry's feelings on war and the purpose of fighting.

À propos de Nice 1930

22
Silent
France

This first of Jean Vigo's films takes up the then current "city" film genre and uses it as a critique of the idle rich and as a call to the working man to overturn this society. The contrast of these two "worlds" is followed by an exuberant street carnivale, where social conventions are cast aside and common people give in to their passions.

A Star Is Born 1937

111
Talky
USA

A young woman comes to Hollywood with dreams of stardom, but achieves them only with the help of an alcoholic leading man whose best days are behind him.

Algiers 1938

96
Talky
USA

Beautiful Gaby meets a romantic jewel thief in the mysterious Casbah.

Bubbling Over 1934

20
Talky
USA

A wonderful all-black short comedy-musical directed by Van Buren. Featuring Ethel Waters with songs such as"Taking Your Time" and "Darkies Don't Dream".

Earth 1930

75
Silent
Soviet Union

Dovzhenko’s Earth is the third part of his “War Trilogy” (alongside Zvenigora and Arsenal). This film poem describes the collective experiences of the Ukranian proles’ lives, exploring life, death and the poetic possibilities of cinema itself. It has been an important influence on film directors such as Andrei Tarkovsky and is considered to be one of the greatest silent films ever made.

Extravagance 1930

71
Talky
USA

Alice's mother has impoverished herself to provide Alice with the luxuries of the high society. When Alice gets married she continues to demand the luxury she is used to - a sable coat in particular. Her husband's business, however, is going under and he just can't afford the coat. How far will Alice go in order to achieve her goal?

Girls in Uniform 1931

88
Talky
Germany

Manuela is a spirited and independent teenager sent to a boarding school when her mother dies. The Prussian principal runs the school with an iron hand, believing that discipline and hunger strengthen a girl's character. Like the rest of the girls, Manuela develops a crush on Elizabeth Von Bernburg, a young teacher who believes it's important to be the children's trusted friend.

Gulliver's Travels 1939

76
Talky
USA

Gulliver washes ashore on Lilliput and attempts to prevent war between that tiny kingdom and its equally-miniscule rival, Blefiscu, as well as smooth the way for the romance between the Princess and Prince of the opposing lands. In this he is alternately aided and hampered by the Lilliputian town crier and general fussbudget, Gabby. A life-threatening situation develops when the bumbling trio of Blefiscu spies, Sneak, Snoop, and Snitch, manage to steal Gulliver's pistol.

Humanity and Paper Balloons 1937

86
Talky
Japan

The lives of two slum neighbors, one of a happy-go-lucky gambler and the other of a poor ronin, converge when the two get involved in the affairs of a powerful samurai official and his gangsters.

Indiscreet 1931

92
Talky
USA

A classic Pre-Code comedy movie, starring Silent-screen queen Gloria Swanson. Geraldine has grown tired of her boyfriend's infidelities and she finally decides to break up with him. Soon she meets and falls in love with a new man. Her new relationship turns out very well until her sister returns from a trip and introduces Geraldine's ex-boyfriend as the new man in her life.

Lot in Sodom 1933

28
Talky
USA

Lot in Sodom is a sensual depiction of the Sodom and Gomorrah story filled with sinewy and semi-clad bodies, delirious bacchanales devoted to physical pleasure, and a searing, cataclysmic finale depicting the fall of a city devoted to sins of the flesh. Digitally mastered from excellent 35mm elements. Lot In Sodom has its original experimental soundtrack by Alec Wilder.

Love Affair 1939

88
Talky
USA

While in a cruise from Europe to New York to get married with his fiancée and heir of a great fortune in USA, the bachelor sportsman Michel Marnet (Charles Boyer) meets the gorgeous former night-club singer Terry McKay (Irene Dunne), who is returning to her supportive boy-friend, and they have a love affair and fall in love for each other. They schedule to reunite on the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building six months later, on July 1st, to decide whether they should marry each other or not.

M 1931

117
Talky
Germany

A psychotic child murderer stalks a city, and despite an exhaustive investigation fueled by public hysteria and outcry, the police have been unable to find him. But the police crackdown does have one side-affect, it makes it nearly impossible for the organized criminal underground to operate. So they decide that the only way to get the police off their backs is to catch the murderer themselves.

Made for Each Other 1939

92
Talky
USA

John and Jane get married after one day of acquaintance. John's mother disapproves of the marriage. The couple struggles to get through their first year of marriage, tormented by money problems and by sickness. Nevertheless, their love never falters.

My Man Godfrey 1936

94
Talky

In the depths of the Depression, a party game brings dizzy socialite Irene Bullock to the city dump where she meets Godfrey, a derelict, and ends by hiring him as family butler. He finds the Bullocks to be the epitome of idle rich, and nutty as the proverbial fruitcake. Soon, the dramatizing Irene is in love with her 'protege'...who feels strongly that a romance between servant and employer is out of place, regardless of that servant's mysterious past...

Nothing Sacred 1937

77
Talky
USA

To redeem himself after a hoax, reporter Wallace Cook proposes a series of stories on doomed Hazel Flagg. Hazel discovers she really doesn't have radium poisoning, but still accepts the big fling in New York that Cook offers her. At first, she has a great time, but complications arise when she and Wally fall in love, and an Austrian specialist discovers that Hazel is faking.

Of Human Bondage 1934

83
Talky
USA

Of Human Bondage is a classic, compelling pre-code melodrama about love and obsession, directed by John Cromwell. A young man is attracted to an unfeeling waitress who may eventually destroy them both. Bette Davis larger than life persona makes this film widely considered as the movie that made her a star.

Oliver Twist 1933

80
Talky
USA

The earliest Hollywood Sound Version of Charles Dickens's novel, this American Pre-Code movie was made on an extremely low budget. It tells the classic story of a young orphan in 1830's London that is abused in a workhouse, then falls into the grips of a gang of criminals.

Osaka Elegy 1936

71
Talky
Japan

A young woman becomes a mistress of her boss in order to support her family.

Our Neighbor, Miss Yae 1934

76
Talky
Japan

Keitaro (Obinata Den) is a law student and Yaeko (Aizome Yumeko) is a high school girl. They are neighbors, and their friendship is starting to develop into something more romantic. Then, Yaeko's sister Kyouko (Okada Yoshiko) has a breakup with her husband and returns home. Kyouko is clearly interested in Keitaro and Yae becomes anxious.

Passing Fancy 1933

100
Silent
Japan

After the death of his wife, a man struggles to raise his son in nearly overwhelming poverty. When the father meets a beautiful young woman, the son becomes jealous of his father's attentions, and conflict arises between them.

People on Sunday 1930

74
Silent
Germany

The film follows the lives of a group of residents of Berlin on a summer's day during the interwar period, filmed over a succession of Sundays in the summer of 1929. The actors were amateurs whose day jobs were those that they portrayed in the film.

Poppy 1935

72
Talky
Japan

Based on Soseki Natsume's 1908 novel of the same title, Poppy is an ornately complicated story of desire and ambition. Fujio is beautiful, talented, well-heeled, and engaged to Munechika, a rising young diplomat. But she falls in love with Ono, a student employed to tutor her in English, who is attracted by her beauty and wealth.

Pygmalion 1938

96
Talky
UK

Shaw's play in which a Victorian dialect expert bets that he can teach a lower-class girl to speak proper English and thus be taken for a lady.

Q Planes 1939

82
Talky
UK

Also known as Clouds Over Europe, This British spy film tells the story of a British secret service man who suspects that the disappearance of a number of experimental planes is more than just a coincidence.

Redes 1936

65
Talky
Mexico

A story of burgeoning labor rights amongst poor fishermen in a small village in Mexico.

Reefer Madness 1936

66
Talky
USA

Cautionary tale features a fictionalized and highly exaggerated take on the use of marijuana. A trio of drug dealers lead innocent teenagers to become addicted to "reefer" cigarettes by holding wild parties with jazz music.

Rembrandt 1936

85
Talky
UK

This character study joins the painter at the height of his fame in 1642, when his adored wife suddenly dies and his work takes a dark, sardonic turn that offends his patrons. By 1656, he is bankrupt but consoles himself with the company of pretty maid Hendrickje, whom he's unable to marry. Their relationship brings ostracism but also some measure of happiness. The final scenes find him in his last year, 1669, physically enfeebled but his spirit undimmed.

Sagebrush Trail 1933

54
Talky
USA

John Brant escapes jail after being wrongly accused of murder then joins a gang hoping to find the real killer. The real killer happens to be a member of the gang and he suspects Brant is up to no good.

Secret Agent 1936

86
Talky
UK

After three British agents are assigned to assassinate a mysterious German spy during World War I, two of them become ambivalent when their duty to the mission conflicts with their consciences.

Seven Sinners 1936

67
Talky
UK

British thriller film directed by Albert de Courville. American detective and his sidekick are invited to Britain in order to take on a group of international criminals.

Sisters of the Gion 1936

69
Talky
Japan

Two geisha sisters lead a hard life in the Gion district of Kyoto. After one of them feels obliged to support a bankrupt businessman, the other sister sets up various schemes to get rid of him.

Song at Midnight 1937

113
Talky
China

China's first horror film, loosely based on The Phantom of the Opera. A disfigured musical genius roams a traditional Chinese opera house, punishing those who offend him.

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas 1931

86
Silent
USA

In his final film, F.W. Murnau presents the tale of two young lovers on the idyllic island of Bora Bora in the South Pacific. Their life is shattered when the old warrior declares the girl to be the Chosen Maid and it is forbidden for any man to even look upon her. Refusing to accept a life apart, they run off to another island, one that is decadent and westernized. The boy works as a pearl diver but not quite understanding the concept of money, is soon in debt. When the old warrior tracks them down they again plan to run away but in a desperate attempt to pay off his debts, the boy dives for pearls in shark-infested waters. The boy is successful but fate seems determined to keep the two lovers apart.

The Flying Deuces 1939

69
Talky
USA

Oliver is heartbroken when he finds that Georgette, the inkeeper's daughter he's fallen in love with, is already married to dashing Foreign Legion officer Francois. To forget her, he joins the Legion, taking Stanley with him. Their bumbling eventually gets them charged with desertion and sentenced to a firing squad. They manage to escape in a stolen airplane, but crash after a wild ride.

The Goddess 1934

73
Silent
China

Street walker by night, devoted mother by day, a woman fights to get her young son an education amid criminal and social injustice in China.

The Lady Vanishes 1938

96
Talky
UK

Travelers on a trans-European train are delayed for a night due to bad weather in a small fictional country called Mandrika. The passengers cram into the small village hotel where socialite Iris Henderson meets an old governess called Miss Froy. Shortly after the journey restarts, Miss Froy disappears.

The Little Princess 1939

93
Talky
USA

In Victorian England little Sara Crewe's widowed father is sent to the Boer War. When he is reported killed the evil head mistress at her boarding school turns Sara into a servant.

The Masseurs and a Woman 1938

66
Talky
Japan

Two blind masseurs Toku and Fuku walk to a mountain retreat to work for the season. The film follows Toku and his interactions with his blind colleagues and various guests from the inns. Toku is attracted to a mysterious single woman, whom he can tell is from Tokyo by her scent. She is intrigued by him, but also makes friends with another visitor from Tokyo who is traveling with his young nephew. The bored nephew, looking for amusement, meets with the woman from Tokyo, as well as with Toku. A rash of thefts at the inns soon after they arrive causes Toku suspect one of these guests

The Most Dangerous Game 1932

63
Talky
USA

A cabin cruiser is shipwrecked off the coast of a remote island, and its three passengers manage to reach the island safely. The island is owned by a strange and enigmatic count who invites them to stay. But he has an underlying motive for his apparent generosity: Count Zaroff enjoys hunting--and he only hunts the most dangerous game: humans!

The Only Son 1936

87
Talky
Japan

In 1923, in the province of Shinshu, the widow and simple worker of a silk factory Tsune Nonomiya (O-Tsune) decides to send her only son to Tokyo for having a better education. Thirteen years later, she visits her son Ryosuke Nonomiya (Shinichi Himori), and finds that he is a poor and frustrated night-school teacher with a wife, Sugiko (Yoshiko Tsubouchi), and a baby boy.

The Private Life of Henry VIII 1933

97
Talky
UK

This movie tells the story of King Henry VIII and the last five of his six wives. Set almost entirely within the royal castle, it begins just before the death of his second wife (Anne Boleyn) and ends just after his sixth wedding (to Catherine or Katherine Parr).

The Rise of Catherine the Great 1934

95
Talky
UK

In 1745 a German princess, renamed Catherine, arrives to marry Grand Duke Peter of Russia, whom she initially likes. But his suspicious, unstable nature gradually estranges them, and Peter finds solace with pretty courtiers. Catherine invents her own (fictitious) lovers, temporarily improving matters. Alas, accession to the throne brings out the worst in Peter, and loyal Catherine is urged to assume power.

The Scarlet Pimpernel 1934

97
Talky
UK

London fop Percy Blakeney is also secretly the Scarlet Pimpernel who, in a variety of disguises, makes repeated daring trips to France to save aristocrats from Madame Guillotine. His unknowing wife is also French, and she finds that her brother has been arrested by the Republic to try and get her to find out who "that damned elusive Pimpernel" really is.

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse 1933

122
Talky
Germany

A new crime wave grips the city and all clues seem to lead to the nefarious Dr. Mabuse, even though he has been imprisoned in a mental asylum for nearly a decade.

The Thirteenth Guest 1932

69
Talky
USA

This old pre-code movie, also known as Lady Beware in the UK, is a somehow better-then-expected low-budget comedy-mystery movie. Thirteen years ago, during a posh dinner party, the master of the manner has died mysteriously and left all of his estates to the 13th guest whose identity remains unknown. Thirteen years later, the guests are invited back to the mansion and become the target of a masked villain.

The Threepenny Opera 1931

112
Talky
Germany

In London, rascal Mackie Messer is 'king of the thieves' and an irresistible pimp. When he meets Polly Peachum on the street, he invites her for a drink and they soon marry. When Polly's father Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum a.k.a. 'the king of the beggars' learns about the marriage of his daughter, he presses the chief of police Jackie "Tiger" Brown to arrest his friend Mackie.

The Whole Family Works 1939

65
Talky
Japan

Father of nine children cannot find a job. Despite their aspirations, the children are encouraged by both parents to hold down menial jobs and contribute to the family expenses. Eventually one rebels, with the support and sympathy of the other children.

Things to Come 1936

100
Talky
UK

The story of a century: a decades-long second World War leaves plague and anarchy, then a rational state rebuilds civilization and attempts space travel.

Tokyo Chorus 1931

90
Silent
Japan

A married Tokyo man faces unemployment after standing up for an older colleague.

Vampyr 1932

70
Talky
Germany / France

A drifter obsessed with the supernatural stumbles upon an inn where a severely ill adolescent girl is slowly becoming a vampire.

What Did the Lady Forget? 1937

71
Talky
Japan

Komiya is an affluent, respected and good-natured professor of medicine at a Tokyo university. He has a wife, Tokiko , though they are without children. His niece from Osaka, Setsuko comes recently for a visit to Tokyo. A liberated young lady who smokes and drinks, Setsuko finds her aunt Tokiko's interference and control of her habits bossy and annoying.

White Zombie 1932

69
Talky
USA

A young man turns to a witch doctor to lure the woman he loves away from her fiancé, but instead turns her into a zombie slave.