The 1930s were a fascinating time for the film industry. The beginning of the decade saw talkies take over Hollywood, pre-Code flicks shocked and titillated and features like The Wizard of Oz showed how magical the movies could truly be. It was a wonderful time that showed an industry in flux as it shed the shackles of the past and embraced an uncertain future rich with promise. Due to the sheer volume of features, shorts, cartoons, and serials released during that era, you are bound to have missed many. Here are five gems that we recommend you check out for a journey into movie history!
The classic Dostoyevsky novel is given a stellar American treatment in director Josef von Sternberg‘s striking production. Peter Lorre stars as Roderick Raskolnikov, a criminology student who kills a sadistic pawnbroker, an act he believes to be just. Now, he must face the sly police inspector (Edward Arnold) assigned to the case as well as his own devastating guilt and paranoia. Marian Marsh, Tala Birell, Elisabeth Risdon also star.
After he and his widowed mother are forced to move in with her domineering brother and his family in their Pennsylvania Mennonite community, little Tommy Martin (Bobby Breen) runs away to Philadelphia─joining a traveling ice revue in order to earn some money. Time after time, however, the people who claim to be supporting Tommy scheme to pocket some of the cash his talents have earned. Song-filled drama also stars Charles Ruggles, Dolores Costello.
In her penultimate screen performance, Clara Bow portrays a tempestuous Texas half-breed whose family packs her off to charm school in Chicago. It might not have been the best idea, as she swiftly becomes steeped in the worst vices and scandals that the big town has to offer. Eye-poppingly lurid pre-Code offering also stars Gilbert Roland, Thelma Todd, Estelle Taylor, and Monroe Owsley.
Before his success in the Thin Man films, William Powell starred as S.S. Van Dine’s debonair sleuth, Philo Vance, in a series of well-made whodunits. Here Vance solves a deadly affair that takes place at a society dog club. With Mary Astor, Ralph Morgan; directed by Michael Curtiz.
In order to elude detectives, New York gambler Clark Gable takes refuge in a small town upstate where he meets and marries librarian Carole Lombard. Returning to the Big Apple, Gable reverts to his gambling ways and meets an old flame who threatens to turn him over to the law. Dorothy Mackaill, Grant Mitchell co-star in this snappy farce; Gable and Lombard’s only film together.
Sound off about the films of the thirties below!