The Golden Age of Hollywood. Forget modern special effects. Actors performed their own stunts. The focus was on the script (and plenty were terrible) but so many scripts were great, and the chemistry between the actors is what made the film a classic.
There’s nothing more sinister than black and white films–the fog in the streets, the fedoras and the overcoats. The glamour of the dresses and the handsome men were art in motion whether it was a musical, drama or comedy. Without the airbrush. Without tricks of editing. Not only could many of the stars act, they could also sing and dance. Morays were clearly defined about the expecations of males and females. Of course, that makes for breaking the mold in the 50s and 60s, but it is fun to go back in time and view the Hollywood star in front of the curtain. Scandal behind? You bet. Nothing has changed there. What price did the stars pay to become the legend on the screen?
Have you noticed how drinking was fashionable and everyone had a cigarette in their hands?
William Powell, Lyrna Moy, Maureen O’Sullivan (Mia Farrow’s mom) The Thin Man (1934), six martinis later….
The energy of the actors in classic films are fresh today as they were eighty years ago. I marvel at the synchronicity of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Swing Time (1936). They made it look effortless.
Silent films transitioned out of use by the end of the 20s. By 1930, going to the movies was a great escape from the worries of the Depression. Some of my all-time favorite films come from this decade. There was an interesting post I read about the transition of silent films to “talkies”. I recommend: http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/10/28/the-end-of-an-era-from-silent-film-to-talkies/
Here are my favorite 1930s films:
King Kong (1933) Directed by Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack. With Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher.
M (1931). Written and directed by Fritz Lang, this Weimar production was distributed in the states by Paramount Pictures. It starred Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut, and Otto Wernicke. Suspensful and great cinematography using mirrors and reflections of glass.
(1931) Frankenstein. Directed by James Whale. Starring Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff, John Boles. And when you finish watching this, then you should see Gods and Monsters (1998) directed by Bill Condon and starring Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, and Lynn Redgrave.
(1934) Directed by Frank Capra and starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. The chemistry between these two is why it’s worth watching. It’s fast paced and fun. I can see why those suffering from the Depression found escapism in the troubles of a spoiled socialite and the reporter who steals her heart.
Another Frank Capra favorite of mine is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur, and Claude Rains. It’s a political drama/comedy and where I learned about the filibuster. It is the film where I thought of Jimmy Stewart as more than a mere actor but something truly exceptional.
Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps (1935). A great crime mystery set in London about a man accused and on the run. Starring Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, and Lucie Mannheim. I like Rebecca even more, but that came out in 1940.
Well, you know I had to. It is the best film ever made. (1939) The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, and Billie Burke.
I sure left a lot out. Which are your favorite films from the 1930s?