You definitely start to see an overall increase in quality when you get to 1932. Previous sound years have really good films, but you can’t really go 20 deep with films most people would want to watch. Here, you’re starting to be able to do that. It’s exciting to me to see Hollywood growing up. To put this into terms you young people who don’t know anything before 2002 can understand: Hollywood in the silent era was a full-sized Groot. And then sound happened and the whole thing got blowed up. And now, we’re dealing with a Baby Groot, slowly coming into its own again. We’re watching it get back to form.
1932 and 1933 are also the two years where Hollywood started really pushing the envelope, subject matter-wise, which lead to the creation of the Production Code. There are a couple of those here. You get your smatter of sex, violence and social problems. And then other cool stuff, like what might be the most bizarre film Hollywood made in the studio era. (more…)
Yeah, boy. This one works out for me because I get an iconic film (somehow remade into an even more iconic film. Which makes me believe there’s another iconic remake in there somehow if they can hit the right notes. Which… this being Hollywood… they won’t), and I get to talk about pre-Code Hollywood, which is an amazing time period. Sure, it’s more glamorous sounding than it actually was, and it’s not as crazy as you’d think, but when you place it in context, knowing what movies post-Code looked like, it’s actually quite provocative. Hollywood wouldn’t reach those levels of openness for another 30 years after this.
But anyway, it’s Scarface. People know the story. Criminal works his way from the bottom to the top. Meteoric rise. Weird sister relationship. The World Is Yours. Each version is very different. This one is a gangster picture, directed by Howard Hawks. It’s very of its era. Very notable for Paul Muni’s charismatic performance, the stark use of violence, and Hawks’ use of X’s in the frame to represent whenever someone was going to get killed. (Scorsese used this in The Departed as well, which I’m sure everyone knows. It’s pretty well-known, as far as trivia goes.)
But what I really want to talk about here, as I said, is pre-Code Hollywood, which was a fun place to be. (more…)
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: (more…)