Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.
Beginning this month and going through November, we will be taking our monthly Top Ten lists and doing something special, looking at the best films of a particular decade. Starting off, we’re looking at the films from 1939 and earlier, which is a large time period, so we’ll be looking at the top twenty instead.
After skipping last month’s Top Ten list due to the close proximity of the Ocsars, we’ve committed to a full array of lists for the rest of the year covering every subsequent decade. Here are the results of our Top Twenty of the 1930s and Prior.
Comparing our lists, the amount of overlap wasn’t surprising. One film made it onto all of our lists: The Wizard of Oz while nine others showed up on three lists (All Quiet on the Western Front, City Lights, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, M, Make Way for Tomorrow, Metropolis, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Sunrise, and The Passion of Joan of Arc). A further nine films were on at least two lists. That leaves 32 films that weren’t duplicated.
On the director side, Frank Capra is responsible for four different titles on the list (It Happened One Night, Lost Horizon, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and You Can’t Take It With You). Charles Chaplin and James Whale were represented by three titles (Chaplin had City Lights, The Gold Rush, and Modern Times. Whale had Bride of Frankenstein, Frankenstein, and Show Boat). Directors with two titles each on the list are D.W. Griffith, F.W. Murnau, Fritz Lang, Jean Renoir, John Ford, Leo McCarey, Sam Wood, and Victor Fleming.
After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.