Wednesday, August 4, 2010

100 years, 100 films metapost: 10 best films of the thirties

So I've now reached the end of the thirties on my ever-increasingly stupid-seeming "100 years, 100 films" experiment/waste of time. That means it's time for my "10 best films of the thirties" list. Hooray!

10. The Rules of the Game (1939). A bunch of upper middle class French idiots gather at a country house and try to have sex with each other. Jean Renoir's film is a masterpiece of camera movement, social commentary, and gentle anger.

9. It Happened One Night (1934). Frank Capra can be really funny, when he isn't making films about how great America, God and small towns are. Here his funnyness is in full effect, and the small town b.s. is toned down to an absolute minimum.

8. Scarface (1932). The moment when I officially decided I hated Oliver Stone was when he claimed that the dreary 1983 Scarface remake, which Stone had scripted, was better than Howard Hawks' original (which Stone claimed "wasn't that good.") Screw you, Oliver Stone. Paul Muni could beat the shit out of Pacino any day.

7. Holiday (1938). This George Cukor directed gem would be the definitive screen pairing of Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, if it wasn't for the existence of film number 2 on this list.

6. Little Caeser (1931). It may not be a "great" film, but Edward G. Robinson's bravura performance rips the film from its standardness, and turns it into something special.

5. The Awful Truth (1937). Leo McCarey and Cary Grant team up and master the screwball comedy. Magic.

4. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). Errol Flynn's most lavish and beautiful film is one of the greatest screen spectacles of all time.

3. Horse Feathers (1932). Duck Soup may be crazier, but the Marx Brothers' fourth film, Horse Feathers, was much funnier. It may be standard comedy fodder - dumbasses at college - but, oh, what the Marx Brothers do to that college...

2. Bringing Up Baby (1938). The definitive screwball comedy. Howard Hawks was pretty damn close to perfection with this manic, insane mess.

1. The Invisible Man (1933). I know most people think that James Whale's masterpiece is the excellent Bride of Frankenstein. But for me, nothing beats Claude Rains' voice going crazy and wreaking havoc on the most ridiculous and eccentric English village ever put on film.

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