Mike’s Top Tens of the Decade (1930-1939)

Oh man, it’s the 30s.

Sadly, I think this is going to be my last decades list. It was fun while it lasted. I guess I could do the 20s if I wanted to, but… I don’t really want to. ’27 started the sound era, and 1930 is good enough for me. Plus I have another series of “top tens” I’m in the middle of (by director), and I really want to focus on those. That said, these lists have been so much fun for me, and they got me to see so many movies that I’d never seen (to the point where I’ve actually now seen about 80% of all the major releases of the 40s, 50s and 60s).

For those who don’t know, the way these lists have worked is, I go and list my ten favorite movies from each year. I also try to list ten more from each year as an 11-20. Originally I said I did it to give myself more options for when I revisited the lists a year, five years, whatever down the road, in case I decided I didn’t like a certain film as much anymore, the alternatives would be right there. Though mostly it’s become about sharing as many great films from these years as possible. I also, underneath the 11-20, created the “fun” lists, which would be extra recommendations (or, not, in the case of one decade) that were related to that specific decade. The 2000s, I actually had a list of what I thought the worst films of those years were, the Terrible Tens. The 1990s, I had the “Films of My Childhood.” The 1980s, I had the “Awesomely 80s Movies.” The 1970s were just great 70s movies, the “70s Recommendations.” The 1960s had “Out with the Old, In with the New,” with all the films representing “old” Hollywood and “new” Hollywood. The 1950s had the “Gems of the Studio System,” forgotten films of (mostly) major directors. The 1940s had “More Great 40s Films,” since people generally don’t delve too deeply into the 40s anyway unless they’re someone like me. This decade, I’m gonna keep it simple, like I’ve been doing. Just more great 30s gems. No need to get complicated.

All right friends. Once more, unto the breach:

My Top Ten of 1939

Another Thin Man

Gone With the Wind

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Jesse James

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington


Only Angels Have Wings


The Wizard of Oz

Wuthering Heights

11-20: Dark Victory, Destry Rides Again, Dodge City, Drums Along the Mohawk, The Four Feathers, It’s a Wonderful World, Love Affair, Of Mice and Men, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, Young Mr. Lincoln

More 30s Gems: Babes in Arms, Bachelor Mother, Each Dawn I Die, Gulliver’s Travels, Juarez, The Oklahoma Kid, On Borrowed Time, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Union Pacific, The Women

More Gems from ‘The Golden Year”: Beau Geste, Confessions of a Nazi Spy, 5th Ave. Girl, Gunga Din, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Intermezzo: A Love Story, Made for Each Other, The Rains Came, The Return of Doctor X, They Made Me a Criminal

My Top Ten of 1938

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Angels with Dirty Faces

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife

Bringing Up Baby



Marie Antoinette


Vivacious Lady

You Can’t Take It With You

11-20: The Amazing Doctor Clitterhouse, Boy Meets Girl, Fools for Scandal, If I Were King, Jezebel, The Mad Miss Manton, Of Human Hearts, Test Pilot, White Banners, The Young in Heart

More 30s Gems: Alexander Nevsky, Algiers, The Beachcomber, Boys Town, The Citadel, Kentucky, The Lady Vanishes, Merrily We Live, Racket Busters, Three on a Weekend (aka Bank Holiday)

My Top Ten of 1937

The Awful Truth

Captains Courageous

Grand Illusion

It’s Love I’m After

The Life of Emile Zola

Lost Horizon

Make Way for Tomorrow

Shall We Dance

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

A Star Is Born

11-20: Dead End, Double Wedding, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, Nothing Sacred, Stage Door, Stella Dallas, Swing High Swing Low, Topper, Wee Willie Winkie

More 30s Gems: Angel, A Damsel in Distress, Dark Journey, Easy Living, Fire Over England, I Met Him in Paris, Kid Galahad, Night Must Fall, The Prisoner of Zenda, Saratoga

My Top Ten of 1936

After the Thin Man


The Great Ziegfeld

Libeled Lady

Modern Times

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

My Man Godfrey

The Petrified Forest

San Francisco

Swing Time

11-20: Anthony Adverse, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Come and Get It, The Devil Doll, The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, The Prisoner of Shark Island, The Story of Louis Pasteur, These Three, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Wife vs. Secretary

More 30s Gems: Anything Goes, Desire, Follow the Fleet, The Plainsman, The Princess Comes Across, Romeo and Juliet, Satan Met a Lady, Show Boat, Theodora Goes Wild, Things to Come

+ Honorable Mention to: Reefer Madness (Oh, that marijuana…)

My Top Ten of 1935

Alice Adams

Bride of Frankenstein

Hands Across the Table

The Informer

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Les Misérables

Mutiny on the Bounty

A Night at the Opera

Ruggles of Red Gap

Top Hat

11-20: Becky Sharp, The Call of the Wild, Captain Blood, The Gilded Lily, The Good Fairy, Magnificent Obsession, Roberta, She Married Her Boss, The 39 Steps, The Whole Town’s Talking

More 30s Gems: Annie Oakley, Barbary Coast, Black Fury, ‘G’ Men, If Only You Could Cook, The Last Days of Pompeii, Naughty Marietta, Peter Ibbetson, Triumph of the Will, Whipsaw

My Top Ten of 1934

The Affairs of Cellini



Death Takes a Holiday

The Gay Divorcee

It Happened One Night

Little Miss Marker

Manhattan Melodrama

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Thin Man

11-20: The Count of Monte Cristo, Four Frightened People, The Gay Bride, Here Comes the Navy, Imitation of Life, The Lost Patrol, The Merry Widow, Sadie McKee, Treasure Island, Twentieth Century

More 30s Gems: The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Broadway Bill, The Captain Hates the Sea, Chained, Fashions of 1934, The House of Rothschild, It’s a Gift, Jimmy the Gent, Little Man What Now, Murder at the Vanities, The Scarlet Empress

My Top Ten of 1933

42nd Street


Dancing Lady

Design for Living

Duck Soup

Footlight Parade

Gold Diggers of 1933

King Kong

Little Women

State Fair

11-20: Alice in Wonderland, Baby Face, The Invisible Man, Lady for a Day, The Mayor of Hell, Midnight Mary, Mystery at the Wax Museum, Penthouse, The Prizefighter and the Lady, Wild Boys of the Road

More 30s Gems: Deluge, Dinner at Eight, Female, Flying Down to Rio, From Hell to Heaven, Morning Glory, Night Flight, She Done Him Wrong, Topaze, Torch Singer

My Top Ten of 1932

A Farewell to Arms

Doctor X


Grand Hotel

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

Merrily We Go to Hell

The Most Dangerous Game

One Hour with You

Red Dust


11-20: After Tomorrow, A Bill of Divorcement, Blonde Venus, If I Had a Million, Love Me Tonight, No Man of Her Own, Shanghai Express, Trouble in Paradise, Vampyr, Young America

More 30s Gems: American Madness, Hot Saturday, The Mummy, One Way Passage, Red-Headed Woman, Tarzan the Ape Man, Three on a Match, Virtue, The Wet Parade, What Price Hollywood?

My Top Ten of 1931

Bad Girl

The Champ


City Lights

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde



The Maltese Falcon

The Public Enemy

The Smiling Lieutenant

11-20: The Criminal Code, Dracula, Five Star Final, A Free Soul, The Front Page, Horse Feathers, Little Caesar, Monkey Business, The Sin of Madelon Claudet, Street Scene

More 30s Gems: Arrowsmith, Mata Hari, Le Million, Night Nurse, Platinum Blonde, Possessed, Smart Money, Tabu: A Story of the South Seas, Tonight or Never, Waterloo Bridge

My Top Ten of 1930

All Quiet on the Western Front

The Big House

The Big Pond

The Big Trail

The Blue Angel

City Girl

The Divorcee

Hell’s Angels

King of Jazz

People on Sunday

11-20: Anna Christie, Animal Crackers, The Dawn Patrol, Holiday, Journey’s End, L’Age d’Or, Min and Bill, Morocco, Show Girl in Hollywood, Street of Chance


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