The Outposter with more countdowns than the bastard love child of Casey Kasem and NASA returns. Bourgeoisie Scum is at it again, trying to edumicate us heathens about how much better things were in days gone by. This time he goes back, way back, to tell us what he thinks were the best movies of the 1930s.

Check out his best movies of the 1990s here, and the countdown of the 1970s right here.


The 25 Best Movies of the 1930s

We jump in the way back machine for my continuing series to list the 25 best films of each decade. This time we go to the 1930s. This was the post-silent era when films got a little stodgy as directors tried to figure out how to use the new technology without locking the camera down. Nevertheless, there are plenty of movies that may be considered all-time greats in this decade.

25. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)

Not much to say here. The first Disney animated feature is an all-time classic. The tale of a cast-off princess forced to live in a cave with a group of wee miners would be an OnlyFans exclusive these days!

24. A Night at the Opera (1935)

The Marx Brothers’ masterpiece demonstrates their individual strengths as comedians. From Groucho’s clever quips, through Chico’s double talk, and Harpo’s physical genius. The story involves Otis P Driftwood convincing a woman to invest in the opera but the best scenes happen aboard an ocean liner headed to Italy. Primo grade stuff!

23. Captain Blood (1935)

This swashbuckling pirate adventure made both Errol Flynn and Olivia deHavilland into stars and is still one of the greatest high seas films ever made. This simple romp features an Irish Doctor named Peter Blood being thrown into a Caribbean jail for treating a rebel against the Crown. He, and his fellow prisoners, escape and become pirates. Sails are raised, swordfights ensue and many swashes are buckled!

22. The Lady Vanishes (1938)

The first of three Hitchcock films on this list, The Lady Vanishes is an old-time espionage thriller with a dab of whodunit thrown in. A woman complains about the noise from a hotel room above, and the next day is injured while boarding a train by a planter dropped from above. The woman who assists her suddenly vanishes after the train gets underway. It’s got all the classic Hitchcock tropes that he would perfect over the years. An underrated classic.

21. Gunga Din (1939)

Directed by the great George Stevens, Gunga Din is a prototypical “colonial adventure” film that inspired hundreds of future films from Temple of Doom to Romancing the Stone. Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks Jr are bored British soldiers in India who encounter the Thugee, rebellious natives, and stuffy officers all with the help of the Indian guide and comic relief Gunga Din, played by Sam Jaffe. It may seem a bit quaint now, but it set the standard for the adventure film for years to come.

20. Dracula (1931)

One of Universal Studios’ classic monster movies. Dracula is a bit slow by today’s standards, but one can’t help but be enthralled by the performance of Bela Lugosi. Plus, it was directed by the great Tod Browning, so you know it looks creepy and good!

19. Sabotage (1936)

The second Hitchcock film on the list was based on a novel by Joseph Conrad – Secret Agent. This is not to be confused with the Hitchcock film of the same name, also from 1936.

The film is almost one big setpiece involving a bomb, a wife, her little brother, and her discovery that her loving husband is actually a terrorist leader. If Mad Max: Fury Road is one big chase, Sabotage is one big tense waiting game.

18. Stagecoach (1936)

John Ford, John Wayne. What else needs to be said? It set the archetype of the loner antihero who turns good, and established both men as certified Hollywood heavyweights. The tale of Wayne’s outlaw Ringo being captured and stowed aboard a Stagecoach to be returned to jail with the interactions of the various passengers, is one of the great westerns and a must-see for all Wayne fans.


17. Goodbye Mr Chips (1939)

Richard Donat won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as Mr Chipping, a retired headmaster recounting his career and personal life over the decades. Usually, flashback films don’t work, but this one does. It’s uplifting, romantic and deeply tragic. One of the great “story about a man” films of all time.

16. The Public Enemy (1931)

Tom and Matt are Irish hoodlums, robbing and fencing their goods. They eventually rise to gangster prominence in post Prohibition America. It is James Cagney in the famous role of Tom Powers. From his shooting a cop, or pushing half a grapefruit in his girlfriend’s face, Cagney is on fire here. The story is simple, but Jean Harlowe never looked better and the movie is a lot of fun.

15. Duck Soup (1933)

Rufus T Firefly, played by Groucho Marx, is chosen to lead the nation of Freedonia by the wealthy Mrs. Teasdale (Marx film stalwart Margaret Dumond, who rumor said wasn’t always sure she was in comedies). As you can imagine, things go awry! This is probably the best Marx Bros film, and their last at Paramount before they’d scurry off to MGM for more money.

14. Frankenstein ( 1931)

Everyone knows this film. The excellent direction by James Whale, the iconic makeup by Jack Pierce, and the subtle yet effective performance by Boris Karloff.  Not many movies get to live forever. This one does.


13. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Directed by the great Frank Capra. It stars Jimmy Stewart as Mr. Jefferson Smith, a simple man and leader of the Boy’s Rangers who is selected by the Governor to replace a deceased Senator. The film is an exercise in familiar territory these days, the heavy hand of political influence, power, and corruption. Though it ends a bit naively, it does give us hope that a simple man can go up against the system and win.

12. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Cobbled together by Dr. Frankenstein in an attempt to placate his lonely monster and advance his work in recreating life, the bride is an amazing spectacle. Both beautiful and terrifying with a remarkable performance by Elsa Lanchester.  It really needs no more from me. Whale’s masterpiece is about as iconic as old horror films get.


11. The 39 Steps (1935)

The last Hitchcock film on the list and the best. The 39 Steps has been called “the first escapist entertainment film” and almost the first summer blockbuster, if you will. It is a story about a group of spies, known as the 39 Steps, and a pair of British agents who attempt to thwart them. Riveting, exciting, excellently acted, and with a great score for the time. Catch this when you can, as it doesn’t show up on streaming very often.

10. The Thin Man (1934)

William Powell and Myrna Loy are Nick and Nora Charles, a married detective and his wealthy wife who enjoy flirtatious banter with a cocktail or two. There’s a mystery and it gets solved, but none of that is very important. The draw of this film is the repartee of the two leads. It spawned 5 sequels, making it the first franchise in film history.


9. Freaks (1932)

The controversial classic that ruined Tod Browning’s career, Freaks is equal parts creepy, funny, troubling, and downright terrifying. Famous for using real circus freaks rather than actors, the film caused near delirium when initially released leading to several cuts. It was eventually quietly shelved and forgotten, until a revival in 1960 brought it back to the zeitgeist and confirmed it as an all-time great.  One of us, gobble gobble, one of us!

8. Modern Times (1936)

The only Chaplin film on this list is also the only silent film. But what a film! Chaplin’s physical gifts are on full display as he is ground through the gears of an industrialized world, both literally and figuratively. It marked the end of the silents for Chaplin, as well as the end of his character The Tramp. And what a fitting end it was.

7. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

The first great talking picture war film is a boots-to-bombs tale of WW1 from the perspective of a new recruit to the German army. He is aroused by speeches about a war “for the Fatherland” and joins up. He is immediately thrust into the horrors of that war. The trenches, the constant shelling, the gore, the fear, the weather… It’s an incredible film for its time and still seems grim today.


6. Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Howard Hawks is known for his great westerns, overlapping dialogue, and his fierce setpieces, but many forget he pioneered the screwball comedy with this film in 1938. Starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, they crackle on-screen together. Thus a simple story of a bumbling paleontologist and the wacky woman he meets with a leopard becomes an all-time great movie in any genre. Antics, wacky dialogue, excellent performances. It’s all here.

5. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Dorothy longs to go somewhere over the rainbow to escape her dull life on a Kansas farm and protect her dog Toto from the evil Miss Gulch. Her wish comes true and a tornado teleports her to the magical world of Oz.

You’ve all seen this a bazillion times. It maybe the best kid’s film ever made. It looks amazing, sounds amazing and its sense of magic and wonder is what movies are all about.

4. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

King Richard has been taken captive returning from the crusades and his shitty brother, Prince John, is ruling in his stead. With fellow Norman, Sir Guy of Gisbourne, they proceed to tax the Saxon peasant classes to near starvation.

Errol Flynn shines as Robin of Sherwood, Olivia deHavilland was never more ravishing, and the film itself is as beautiful as technicolor gets. Don’t ignore the classic Korngold score either.


3. King Kong (1933)

Said by some to be a commentary on the history of the slave trade in America, which I am not sold on, this classic fish out of water tale features a giant ape, the woman he loves, and the greed of Hollywood all on a collision course. The stop motion effects by Willis O’Brien are fantastic, as is pretty much everything else. It’s about as movie magic as movie magic can get.


2. Gone With the Wind (1939)

The most popular film of all time, based on the number of butts in seats, is a rare pop-culture phenomenon that lives up to the hype.

Clark Gable is the epitome of smooth badass. Vivian Leigh is equal parts beautiful, intense and batshit crazy. Boy does this movie look great for the time. It is as epic, from the sweeping shots of the wounded surrounding a railyard to the reeling throngs of dancing aristocrats. At its heart, it is a tragic love story and a testament to not trying to have everything all the time. Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.


1. It Happened One Night ( 1934)

Frank Capra directs the first modern romantic comedy nearly 90 years ago. It sets the template for all to come. A spoiled young socialite (Claudette Colbert) falls for a roguish reporter (Clark Gable) but not at first. First, she hates him, criticizes him, and drives him nuts with her nature. Yet she sticks around. Sound familiar? There are all sorts of “on the road” antics, wedding hijinks, alter shenanigans and one hell of a great love story. It was tough putting this over Gone With The Wind, but I think it deserves to be here!

So that is what Bourgeoise Scum thinks are the best movies of the 1930s. What about you and your choices?

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