The cinema as danger zone in Sabotage (1936) by Alfred Hitchcock
To approach the cinema of the 1930s and 1940s, which I know far better than the silent era, and which I wanted to be able to cover somewhat more rapidly than I did the 1910s and 1920s (hah!), I decided to build an essentials list from the ground up instead of finalizing a list of twenty-five and seeing what deserved to stay and what deserved to go. This was obviously a grave error, because I started watching movies for this post last May, began writing it in August, and yet was still adding “must-see” films to my watch list in the fall. This is what you call self-sabotage—as opposed to the Hitchcock form of sabotage above, which is much better. In any case, I think I need to refrain from rewatching so many movies when I get to the 1940s. (Hah!)
But I digress…
Back to the 1930s…
To build my list, I first identified the films that were on all the key “best of” lists I was using for reference: the AFI Top 100 lists from 1998 and 2007, the Sight & Sound “Greatest Films of All Time” Top 250 from 2012, and the 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die lists (all editions). There were seven such films: City Lights (1931), Duck Soup (1933), King Kong (1933), Modern Times (1936), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939). I had actually seen all seven already and so could immediately make some decisions. There were only three I felt I could put on my essentials list without hesitation: City Lights (1931), King Kong (1933), and The Wizard of Oz (1939). The other four I would have to mull over in my brain.
Anyone with half a brain knows that The Wizard of Oz should be on any film essentials list you might come up with that includes the 1930s.
Next, I scanned the individual lists for selections I had seen that seemed obvious candidates for inclusion on any essentials list. Four stood out to me immediately in this regard: Frankenstein (1931), Scarface (1932), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), and It Happened One Night (1934). Each of these films is one of the best examples of arguably the four most important Hollywood genres of the 1930s: horror, gangster films, musicals, and romantic comedies.
Of course, there were a number of other films that I thought were likely to go on the list, but I hadn’t seen them for some time and wanted to rewatch them, or at least, watch other similar films and then decide between them. Some of these films were Trouble in Paradise (1932), L’Atalante (1934), Pépé le Moko (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), La Règle du jeu (1939), Stagecoach (1939), and The Women (1939). There was also the question of which Hitchcock would go on the list, The 39 Steps (1935) or The Lady Vanishes (1938)? At this point, M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (M) (Lang, 1931) was also on my “rewatch” list, but later, when I actually watched it, I was pretty sure I hadn’t seen it before. Or, if I did, I remembered none of it. Consequently, I decided to count it as a new-to-me film for the purposes of cataloguing.
When you’re conducting a hard target search for the best of the best in the 1930s, you’ve got to include M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder.
My next task was to come up with a “reasonable” watch list. What did I absolutely have to watch before I could even think of finalizing my list? So, I next identified the “important” films on these lists that I hadn’t yet seen.
Except for All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), which were both on the 1998 AFI list but not the 2007 list, I had seen all seventeen AFI films from the 1930s. Although these two films weren’t on the Sight & Sound list, they were on the 1001 list and they were both Best Picture winners, so I thought they merited consideration and added them to my watch list. Of the other Best Picture winners in this decade—Cimarron (1931), Grand Hotel (1932), Cavalcade (1933), It Happened One Night, The Great Ziegfeld (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), You Can’t Take It with You (1938), Gone with the Wind—there were four I hadn’t already seen. Based on the discussion over at the (excellent) podcast The Envelope Please, I decided to also add Cavalcade to my watch list. [Side note: Shout out to Carlo (@ThiefCGT) at The Movie Loot for introducing me to the @PleaseEnvelope podcast. It really helped me decide which of the Best Picture nominees were worth my time.]
I can’t believe All Quiet on the Western Front was bumped off the AFI list in 2007. I certainly consider it essential viewing for the 1930s.
Of the twenty-one films on the Sight & Sound list, I had already seen fifteen. Five of the six that I hadn’t seen—the aforementioned M, along with Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (Murnau, 1931), Otona no miru ehon – Umarete wa mita keredo (I Was Born, But…) (Ozu, 1932), Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (The Testament of Dr. Mabuse) (Lang, 1933), Zangiku monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum) (Mizoguchi, 1939)—could be found on the Criterion Channel, and the sixth—Zemlya (Earth) (Dovzhenko, 1930)—could be rented from the library, so I quickly added all of them to my watch list. I wasn’t quite sure I was going to watch Mabuse, but I thought I would probably get to the others. [SPOILER ALERT: I actually did watch Mabuse but it did not make any of my final lists.]
Zemlya (Earth) is a silent masterpiece about the forced collectivization of Ukrainian farms. Essential viewing for the 1930s and as relevant as ever.
Of the ninety (!) 1930s films on the 1001 list, there were thirty-five I hadn’t seen. Obviously, even though most of them were surely worth seeking out, I decided to pick only five or so to try to get to before closing out the decade. I knew I would probably see way more than that, but I didn’t want to get too bogged down feeling I had to see everything. (Hah! See above re starting to write this post last August.) Further selections were made partly due to personal interest, partly due to recommendations, and partly due to their availability.
In the end, since posting about the 1920s in early May 2021, I have watched ninety films from the 1930s. Just over fifty of these were new-to-me films, the others were rewatches. You can see the full list of the 225 films I considered for this decade at the bottom of this post.*
Almost all of the films I considered are ones I have watched since 2016 when I first started seriously tracking and scoring everything I watch in my various film spreadsheets. However, I feel I should note that there are seven films I did not rewatch. In the case of some, it was because I ran out of time and decided I did not need to rewatch childhood favorites I had seen many times (Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz). In the case of others, it was because I know I dislike them enough not to include them on any lists and/or remembered they were “meh” films for me the first time (or two) and had no desire to rewatch them. These include L’Âge d’or (The Golden Age) (1930), Double Wedding (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Ninotchka (1939), and Wuthering Heights (1939). Given more time, I might have rewatched the last two, but that will have to wait for another day when I am finished with this project. Finally, I also made the decision up front not to consider Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) (1935) for this project—although I did watch (and enjoy) both Olympia (1938) films.
“Bad dreams in the night; They told me I was going to lose the fight; Leave behind my wuthering, wuthering, Wuthering Heights.”
Obviously, there is no way I can possibly discuss even a fraction of these films with any depth, so I’m not even going to try. Instead, I am just going to build a few lists of recommendations to guide you through the 1930s.
First, the essentials. Here, filmmaking technique, storytelling, and cultural influence were my most important criteria. But also, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m hoping to come out of this project with a well-rounded list that represents diverse interests and perspectives, or, at least, more than is traditionally found in the canon established by (mostly) straight white men.
To that end, of the new-to-me watches I’ve already mentioned, it was obvious fairly quickly that All Quiet on the Western Front, Zemlya (Earth), M, Tabu, and Zangiku monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum) needed to be on the list. While none of these are films I will likely return to over and over, they are all excellent films that represent a wide diversity of cultures, stories, and filmmaking techniques. I also added I Was Born, But… (although I suspect I might choose a different Ozu were I to watch more of his 1930s work) and, after watching five Dietrich-Sternberg collaborations, Shanghai Express (1932). These films are exactly why I wanted to do this project, because, except for M and maybe Shanghai Express, I don’t think I would have chosen to watch any of them on my own.
Josef von Sternberg is one of my favorite discoveries of this project, both his silent pictures and his collaborations with Marlene Dietrich are absolutely gorgeous. Essential filmmaking to be sure.
At the same time, two other new-to-me films I decided to put on the essentials list are selections I probably would have gotten to eventually, as part of my annual #52FilmsByWomen pledge. The pickings are fairly slim when it comes to female directors in the 1930s—I initially identified only fifteen films for possible viewing—however, I quite enjoyed the thirteen films I was able to see** and found most of them to be vastly underrated. In the end, both Mädchen in Uniform (Sagan, 1931), a lesbian-themed coming-of-age tale set in a German boarding school, and Olympia 1. Teil: Fest der Volker (Olympia Part 1: Festival of the Nations) (Riefenstahl, 1938), a revolutionary documentary about the 1936 Summer Olympics, went on the essentials list, as did Dorothy Arzner’s Merrily We Go to Hell (1932), a pre-Code tale of addiction and infidelity. Another Arzner film—The Bride Wore Red (1937), a study in class dynamics and female friendship disguised as a romance—made it onto my favorites list.
The thoroughly modern marriage of Merrily We Go to Hell. As the only female director working in the Hollywood studio system in the 1930s, Dorothy Arzner is certainly essential viewing.
Rewatches that made their way onto the essentials list include the aforementioned L’Atalante, The Lady Vanishes, and Trouble in Paradise. I’m not a huge fan of L’Atalante myself, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow. France has one of the strongest national cinemas of the 1930s and needed to have at least a few representatives on the list. In addition to L’Atalante, I added a film each from its biggest filmmakers of the decade: Jean Renoir and Marcel Carné. For Carné, I chose Le jour se lève (Daybreak) (1939), one of his best collaborations with screenwriter-poet Jacques Prévert, and for Renoir, I chose La Grande Illusion (1937). [Side note: I did rewatch La Règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game) (1939) recently, but I think I like it even less than I did when I first watched it years ago, if that’s possible. #SorryNotSorry] I had hoped to fit in one more French film, one of René Clair’s early musical comedies, but I just couldn’t find a spot for it on the list.
Speaking of which, back to some of the “list-topper” films I hesitated about earlier. Ultimately, I decided only Gone with the Wind was “essential” viewing, both because of its technique and production values and its cultural impact and influence. As for the others, I just don’t view them as essential. Modern Times has probably the strongest argument, but it would be the second 1930s Chaplin on the list and it’s a bit of a rip-off of René Clair’s À nous la liberté so I think not. I hesitated most over Duck Soup. Mostly because I don’t really love the Marx brothers, although I know many other people do, but also because, if I had to choose, I actually prefer A Night at the Opera (1935). In the end, I couldn’t find a place for it with all the other fantastic options. Finally, beyond loathing Bringing Up Baby, I just don’t see the justification for it. Not only are there are better screwballs to put on the list, there are better screwballs by Howard Hawks to put on the list. I mean, when I get to the 1940s, His Girl Friday is pretty much a given. In any case, I put the delightful My Man Godfrey (1936) and that ultimate piece of Americana, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), on the list instead.
For more on why I so dislike Bringing Up Baby, see 1930s Screwball Classics and Forgotten Films.
“I can’t give you any [of my] love, Baby.”
And, with that, my final list of twenty-five essentials for the 1930s:
Essential Films of the 1930s
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Zemlya (Earth) (1930)
City Lights (1931)
M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (M) (1931)
Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)
Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)
Otona no miru ehon – Umarete wa mita keredo (I Was Born, But…) (1932)
Shanghai Express (1932)
Trouble in Paradise (1932)
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
King Kong (1933)
It Happened One Night (1934)
My Man Godfrey (1936)
La Grande Illusion (1937)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Olympia 1. Teil: Fest der Volker (Olympia Part 1: Festival of the Nations) (1938)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Le jour se lève (Daybreak) (1939)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Zangiku monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum) (1939)
Zangiku monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum) is one of five essentials from 1939, considered by many to be cinema’s best year ever.
After establishing my list of essentials, I next set out to finalize my list of favorite 1930s films. As you might imagine, this list was a bit easier to pull together; however ranking these movies was somewhat tricky. The key question determining selection and placement here is “How eager am I to rewatch this?”
For the most part, these are movies I have known and loved for many years, although there is one entry I only saw for the first time this past year and that’s Love Me Tonight, a musical I borrowed from the library but that I purchased on blu-ray just hours after watching it. I am not a huge fan of musicals, but I loved the songs in this one, and was very impressed with their staging as well as the cinematography and editing overall.
Favorite Films of the 1930s, Ranked
The Thin Man (1934)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
It Happened One Night (1934)
The Old Dark House (1932)
My Man Godfrey (1936)
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
The 39 Steps (1935)
Love Me Tonight (1932)
Trouble in Paradise (1932)
Easy Living (1937)
If You Could Only Cook (1935)
La Grande Illusion (1937)
The Women (1939)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
The Bride Wore Red (1937)
Pépé le Moko (1937)
You Can’t Take It with You (1938)
Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (1936)
42nd Street (1933)
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
Faisons un rêve (Let’s Make a Dream) (1936)
Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier in Love Me Tonight, my favorite discovery of the 1930s
That’s all well and good you might say, but if almost all your favorites are longtime faves what was the point of all this? And that’s why I had to create a third category and a new kind of list: Hidden Gems. These movies do not appear on my list of essential films, but may appear on my list of favorites for the decade. Either way, they are well worth your time. In general, they are films that I was pleasantly surprised by or that I consider underrated or underseen. For the most part, I am likely to return to many of these before some of the essentials.
A few highlights…
If you are looking for atmosphere: Films like Hôtel du Nord (1938) are the reason I love the Criterion Channel. I had never seen this classic that contains perhaps the most famous line of all of French cinema (“Atmosphère! Atmosphère! Est-ce que j’ai une gueule d’atmosphère?”) because it was so hard to find for years and still isn’t available in the collection of either my public or local membership library. But it’s permanently on the Criterion Channel, even if it is (tragically) not part of the Criterion Collection.
Pre-Code risqué behavior: Speaking of the Criterion Collection, they really need to put out more Dorothy Arzner. Sure, I’ve bought Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) and Merrily We Go to Hell, but what I really want is Working Girls (1931), a light pre-Code romp about two sisters who move to the big city. Crackling banter, great camera work, fairly unpredictable. Definitely worth seeking out if you can find it. See also, the musical murder mystery, Murder at the Vanities (1934).
Olympic fever: I’m not sure why the two parts of Olympia (Part 1: Festival of the Nations and Part 2: Festival of Beauty) are considered separate films, but they are on most film sites, otherwise I would have put the whole darn thing on the essentials list. More people seem to have watched the first part, which features Jesse Owens, but my favorite moments in this four-hour documentary are the diving scenes, which are found in the second part.
Big in Japan: Japanese cinema is a big gap for me and one I was hoping to fill with this project. In fact, that is one reason this post is so delayed. The few Japanese films I managed to get to in the early stages, such as Minato no nihon musume (Japanese Girls at the Harbor) (1933) and Ninjō Kami Fūsen (Humanity and Paper Balloons) (1937), made me want to add a whole bunch more films to my watch list.
Solid like a rock: Dodsworth (1936) always seems to be the first thing I think of when people ask me what I’ve discovered looking at the 1930s. Just an utterly solid Hollywood film with an interesting plot and great cast that more people should know. See also, Stage Door (1937).
Star performances: Here are a few films and lead performances that made me finally “get” the appeal of certain actors and actresses: Norma Shearer in The Divorcee (1930), Paul Muni in I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), Charles Laughton in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Edward G. Robinson in The Whole Town’s Talking (1935), and Robert Donat in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939).
One of Norma Shearer’s many fantastic expressions in The Divorcee
The OG of better-known remakes: In case you thought remakes and reboots were a new thing, they most certainly are not. It may be hard to believe, but in the cases of Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), remade as Tokyo Story (1953), Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), remade as House of Wax (1953), and Love Affair (1939), remade as An Affair to Remember (1957), I actually prefer the original version to the remake.
Finally, Hell-Bound Train (1930). What to say about this one? You really have to experience it to understand why I love this odd little film by self-taught evangelical filmmakers James & Eloyce Gist, who used the medium of film to preach against dancing, drinking, and gambling. You can find it as part of the Pioneers of African American Cinema collection on both Kanopy and the Criterion Channel.
Now, to the list! As with my favorites list above, this is a ranked list. For a complete ranking of all 225 films that I considered for this post, you can consult A Century+: 1930s Ranked.
Hidden Gems of the 1930s, Ranked
Love Me Tonight (1932)
Hôtel du Nord (1938)
Footlight Parade (1933)
Olympia 2. Teil: Fest der Schonheit (Olympia Part 2: Festival of Beauty) (1938)
Ninjō Kami Fūsen (Humanity and Paper Balloons) (1937)
Minato no nihon musume (Japanese Girls at the Harbor) (1933)
Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
Stage Door (1937)
The Divorcee (1930)
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
Murder at the Vanities (1934)
The Whole Town’s Talking (1935)
Captain Blood (1935)
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)
Love Affair (1939)
Working Girls (1931)
À nous la liberté (1931)
Destry Rides Again (1939)
Hell-Bound Train (1930)
Japanese Girls at the Harbor (1933), literally
To close, a few words on some films I didn’t see. My biggest regret in terms of my essentials list is not making time for Limite (1931), an experimental Brazilian film; Alexander Nevsky (1938), by the great Sergei Eisenstein (I hope to make up for this by watching both parts of Ivan the Terrible); and several Japanese films, including Ukikusa monogatari (A Story of Floating Weeds) (1934), Arigatō-san (Mr. Thank You) (1936), and Gion no kyōdai (Sisters of the Gion) (1936). These films are all on the Criterion Channel so I really have no excuse except time. Finally, I really wanted to see Xiǎo wányì (Little Toys) (1933), a silent Chinese film, but I just can’t bear to watch movies on YouTube.
In other words, there are a lot of great films out there. Have fun! Explore!
For previous posts in this Century+ series, click below:
Film 101—A Century+ Silent Film Resources
A Century+ of Cinema: The Early Silents, 1895–1909
A Century+ of Cinema: Considering the Essentials
A Century+ of Cinema: The 1910s
A Century+ of Cinema: The 1920s
For more on Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera, Swing Time, and The Scarlet Empress, see The Great Unseen 2: Dinner and a Movie.
For more on Hitchcock’s 1930s films, see Hitchcock II: The British Talkies.
For more on screwballs of the 1930s, see Early Screwballs and The Lubitsch Touch and 1930s Screwball Classics and Forgotten Films. For more on classic horror, see my Horror 101 series.
For my letterboxd versions of related film lists, click below:
A Century+: The Essentials
A Century+: Favorites of the 1930s
A Century+: Hidden Gems of the 1930s
*The movies from the 1930s that I considered for this post are:
AFI Top 100 (1998 & 2007): City Lights (1931), King Kong (1933), Duck Soup (1933), It Happened One Night (1934), Modern Times (1936), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gone with the Wind (1939), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939)
AFI Top 100 (1998): All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Frankenstein (1931), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Stagecoach (1939), Wuthering Heights (1939)
AFI Top 100 (2007): A Night at the Opera (1935), Swing Time (1936)
Sight & Sound 250 (2012): L’Âge d’or (1930), Zemlya (Earth) (1930), City Lights (1931), M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (M) (1931), Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931), Otona no miru ehon – Umarete wa mita keredo (I Was Born, But…) (1932), Trouble in Paradise (1932), Vampyr (1932), Duck Soup (1933), King Kong (1933), Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (The Testament of Dr. Mabuse) (1933), L’Atalante (1934), Modern Times (1936), Partie de Campagne (A Day in the Country) (1936), La Grande Illusion (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gone With the Wind (1939), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), La Règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game) (1939), Zangiku monogatari (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum) (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Additional films from 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die (all editions): Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) (1930), À nous la liberté (Freedom for Us) (1931), Dracula (1931), Little Caesar (1931), The Public Enemy (1931), Freaks (1932), I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), Love Me Tonight (1932), Scarface (1932), Shanghai Express (1932), Footlight Parade (1933), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), 42nd Street (1933), She Done Him Wrong (1933), Sons of the Desert (1933), The Black Cat (1934), The Thin Man (1934), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Captain Blood (1935), The 39 Steps (1935), Top Hat (1935), Dodsworth (1936), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), My Man Godfrey (1936), Le Roman d’un tricheur (The Story of a Cheat) (1936), Sabotage (1936), The Awful Truth (1937), Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), Pépé le Moko (1937), Stella Dallas (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), Jezebel (1938), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Olympia 1. Teil: Fest der Volker (Olympia Part 1: Festival of the Nations) (1938), Olympia 2. Teil: Fest der Schonheit (Olympia Part 2: Festival of Beauty) (1938), Babes in Arms (1939), Destry Rides Again (1939), Le Jour se lève (Daybreak) (1939), Ninotchka (1939)
Other feature films from the 1930s:
1930: Animal Crackers, The Big House, The Big Trail, The Divorcee, Hell-Bound Train, Holiday, Ladies of Leisure, Menschen am Sonntag (People on Sunday), Monte Carlo, Morocco, Murder!, Sous les toits de Paris (Under the Roofs of Paris)
1931: Blonde Crazy, The Champ, The Cheat, Dishonored, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Five Star Final, The Front Page, Illicit, Mädchen in Uniform, The Miracle Woman, Monkey Business, Night Nurse, Platinum Blonde, Le Roi des aulnes (The Erl King), Svengali, The Smiling Lieutenant, Waterloo Bridge, Working Girls
1932: A Bill of Divorcement, Blondie of the Follies, Broken Lullaby, The Death Kiss, Forbidden, Grand Hotel, Hell’s House, Island of Lost Souls, Jewel Robbery, Merrily We Go to Hell, The Most Dangerous Game, The Mummy, The Music Box, No Man of Her Own, The Old Dark House, One Hour with You, Red Dust, Three on a Match, What Price Hollywood?, White Zombie
1933: Baby Face, Blondie Johnson, Bombshell, Cavalcade, Christopher Strong, Design for Living, Dinner at Eight, I’m No Angel, The Invisible Man, Little Women, Minato no nihon musume (Japanese Girls at the Harbor), Mystery of the Wax Museum, Our Betters, The Private Life of Henry VIII, The Secret of the Blue Room, Une nuit sur le mont Chauve (A Night on Bald Mountain), Whistling in the Dark
1934: Belle of the Nighties, Bright Eyes, Dames, Death Takes a Holiday, Fashions of 1934, Fog Over Frisco, The Gay Divorcee, Imitation of Life, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Manhattan Melodrama, The Merry Widow, Murder at the Vanities, One Night of Love, The Scarlet Empress, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Twentieth Century, The Woman Condemned, Wonder Bar, Zouzou
1935: Barbary Coast, Front Page Woman, The Ghost Goes West, Gold Diggers of 1935, Hands Across the Table, Happiness, If You Could Only Cook, La Kermesse héroïque (Carnival in Flanders), Mad Love (The Hands of Orlac), Naughty Marietta, One Frightened Night, Papageno, Phantom Ship (The Mystery of the Mary Celeste), Princesse Tam Tam, The Raven, The Whole Town’s Talking
1936: After the Thin Man, Bullets or Ballots, Craig’s Wife, Le Crime de Monsieur Lange, The Devil-Doll, Faisons un rêve (Let’s Make a Dream), Follow the Fleet, Libeled Lady, The Petrified Forest, The Princess Comes Across, San Francisco, Show Boat, Theodora Goes Wild
1937: The Bride Wore Red, Dead End, Double Wedding, Easy Living, Every Day’s a Holiday, Marked Woman, Ninjō Kami Fūsen (Humanity and Paper Balloons), Nothing Sacred, Personal Property, Shall We Dance, The Squeaker, Stage Door, A Star Is Born, You Only Live Once
1938: Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, The Cowboy and the Lady, Holiday, Hôtel du Nord, Le Quai des brumes (Port of Shadows), Merrily We Live, Pygmalion, A Slight Case of Murder, The Terror of Tiny Town, Vivacious Lady, You Can’t Take It with You
1939: Bachelor Mother; Blind Alley; The Bronze Buckaroo; The Cat and the Canary; Dark Victory; Dodge City; Goodbye, Mr. Chips; It’s a Wonderful World; Love Affair; Midnight; The Roaring Twenties; Son of Frankenstein; The Women
**Films directed or co-directed by women: Hell-Bound Train (1930), Mädchen in Uniform (1931), Le Roi des aulnes (The Erl King) (Iribe, 1931), Working Girls (1931), Merrily We Go to Hell (1932), Christopher Strong (Arzner, 1933), Une nuit sur le mont Chauve (A Night on Bald Mountain) (Alexeieff & Parker, 1933) (10-minute short using pinscreen animation), The Woman Condemned (Davenport, 1934), Papageno (Reiniger, 1935) (11-minute short using silhouette animation), Craig’s Wife (Arzner, 1936), The Bride Wore Red (1937), Olympia 1. Teil: Fest der Volker (Olympia Part 1: Festival of the Nations) & Olympia 2. Teil: Fest der Schonheit (Olympia Part 2: Festival of Beauty) (1938)