by marie_D | created - 14 Oct 2012 | updated - 05 Feb 2015 | Public

Movies to watch for 1933

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1. Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

Passed | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

A wealthy composer rescues unemployed Broadway performers with a new play.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, Ruby Keeler

Votes: 6,751 | Gross: $4.80M

: This movie had me when Ginger Rogers started singing in Pig Latin and never let me go! This is chock full of the most madly inventive numbers ever put to film, including Billy Barty as a mischievious infant and the cops on roller skates in "Petting in the Park", the neon violins in "The Shadow Waltz", and the starkly powerful "My Forgotten Man." My personal favorite of the Busby Berkeley musicals and I love them all. With most of the cast of 42nd Street plus Warren William, Joan Blondell, and Aline MacMahon.

2. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)

Not Rated | 122 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

French version of the German movie The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933). Both movies were directed simultaneously by Fritz Lang in Germany.

Directors: Fritz Lang, René Sti | Stars: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Otto Wernicke, Thomy Bourdelle, Gustav Diessl

Votes: 10,681

Criminal mastermind Dr. Mabuse has been confined in an insane asylum for the last decade. Of late, he has turned to scrawling über-terrorist tracts while otherwise maintaining complete catatonia. It is beginning to seem like the only thing standing in the way of a reign of crime is our old friend Commissioner Lohmann from M.

I love the atmosphere of dread Lang creates in this movie and the wonderful performance by Otto Wernicke as Lohmann. Hitler banned the film and you can certainly see why folks might see a similarily between Dr. Mabuse's organization and his own.

3. Zero for Conduct (1933)

Not Rated | 44 min | Short, Comedy, Drama

In a repressive boarding school with rigid rules of behavior, four boys decide to rebel against the direction on a celebration day.

Director: Jean Vigo | Stars: Jean Dasté, Robert le Flon, Louis Lefebvre, Du Verron

Votes: 7,148

Four boys mount a revolution at a boarding school. This is highly inventive short film is full of youthful anarchic energy and some surrealist touches. Boris Kaufman, the cinematographer behind Man with a Movie Camera, provides the striking images. Highly recommended.

4. King Kong (1933)

Passed | 100 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

90 Metascore

A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.

Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher

Votes: 75,076 | Gross: $10.00M

A showman journeys to a mysterious island to film what lurks within. This is the granddaddy of all special effects films and is still pretty amazing for its time. It is hard to imagine how much work must have gone into the elaborate stop-motion animation, matte paintings, and projections needed to make this work. It is impressive that we end up feeling pity for what is, after all, a rubber puppet covered with rabbit fur. The Max Steiner music, one of Hollywood's first purpose-written full-length film scores, adds to the suspense.

5. Design for Living (1933)

Not Rated | 91 min | Comedy, Romance

A woman cannot decide between two men who love her, and the trio agree to try living together in a platonic friendly relationship.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch | Stars: Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins, Edward Everett Horton

Votes: 5,213

Expatriates in Paris play house when a commercial artist (Miriam Hopkins) falls for both a playwright (Fredric March) and a painter (Gary Cooper) in this absolutely delightful pre-Code farce. The Ben Hecht screenplay sparkles as bright as the acting and direction. I'm very glad I've finally seen this one.

6. 42nd Street (1933)

Passed | 89 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

A director puts on what may be his last Broadway show and, at the last moment, a naive newcomer has to replace the star.

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ruby Keeler

Votes: 9,921 | Gross: $2.30M

1930's backstage musical bliss. With Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, Ginger Rogers, Una Merkle, Guy Kibbee, Ned Sparks and a bevy of Busby Berkeley beauties.

The part of this movie that always kills me is when Ginger Rogers tells Warner Baxter that she isn't right to take over for the injured Bebe Daniels but that Ruby Keeler is because Ruby is such a great dancer! Such irony ...

7. Japanese Girls at the Harbor (1933)

72 min | Drama

Two schoolgirl friends drift apart when one of them falls for a handsome boy.

Director: Hiroshi Shimizu | Stars: Michiko Oikawa, Yukiko Inoue, Ureo Egawa, Ranko Sawa

Votes: 500

The harbor is Yokohama. Dora and Sunako are inseparable friends until Sunako loses her heart to Henry. Henry, however, turns out to be bad news and Sunako's jealousy of his philandering has consequences that force her to leave town and turn to a life of prostitution. For me, the plot was incidental to the absolutely poetic outdoor shots of Yokohama. This was the first film I've seen by Shimizu and I'm glad I have more in my future.

8. Dinner at Eight (1933)

Passed | 111 min | Comedy, Drama

Affluent Millicent and Oliver Jordan throw a dinner for a handful of wealthy and/or well-born acquaintances, each of whom has much to reveal.

Director: George Cukor | Stars: Marie Dressler, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow

Votes: 7,071

Mrs. Jordan (Billie Burke) plans a formal dinner in honor of English aristocrats but nothing works out as planned. It's the depression and everybody has a secret, usually financial. This was MGM's all-star follow-up to the previous year's Grand Hotel. I just love this one. All the actors, including both the Barrymores, do themselves proud but my very favorite is Jean Harlow. The cast includes John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Lee Tracy, and Edmund Lowe, and Madge Evans.

9. Counsellor at Law (1933)

Passed | 82 min | Comedy, Drama

Successful attorney has his Jewish heritage and poverty-stricken background brought home to him when he learns his wife has been unfaithful.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: John Barrymore, Bebe Daniels, Doris Kenyon, Isabel Jewell

Votes: 1,042

John Barrymore plays a top New York lawyer who had his beginnings as a young immigrant and worked hard to get where he is. The lawyer is crazy about his high society WASP wife. Everything falls appart when he is threatened with disbarrment. With Bebe Daniels as his devoted secretary, Doris Kenyon as the wife, and Melvyn Douglas as a louse.

This may rank as my most dramatic revision of opinion of a film ever. I absolutely hated this movie the first time around and I have no idea why. It is excellent, with law office zingers flying about as fast as in The Front Page, and the performances are outstanding. This is truly the best performance I have witnessed by John Barrymore.

10. The Invisible Man (1933)

Not Rated | 71 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Henry Travers

Votes: 27,141

A chemist succeeds in achieving invisibility but goes mad in the process. Claude Rains makes an unforgettable US film debut as the title character with his resonant voice. James Whale again shows his deft hand at mixing wit with violence and doing justice to both. I could live without Una O'Connors hysterics but what would these movies be without them?

11. The Mayor of Hell (1933)

Passed | 90 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

Five members of a teen-age gang, including leader Jimmy Smith, are sent to the state reformatory, presided over by the melodramatically callous Thompson. Soon, Patsy Gargan, a former ... See full summary »

Directors: Archie Mayo, Michael Curtiz | Stars: James Cagney, Madge Evans, Arthur Byron, Allen Jenkins

Votes: 1,282

Cagney plays a ward heeler and gang leader who gets a pay-off appointment to Deputy Commissioner responsible for juvenile detention centers. He falls for an idealistic nurse who has a plan for reforming a truely abysmal reformatory. Cagney is great as is Frankie Darro, who plays the boys' gang leader and title character. I loved all three Cagney movies I saw for 1933 and this was my favorite.

12. Woman of Tokyo (1933)

47 min | Drama

Ryoichi and Chikako are brother and sister. They live together. Chikako works during the day in an office and at night she prostitutes herself to fund her brother's studies at the ... See full summary »

Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Yoshiko Okada, Ureo Egawa, Kinuyo Tanaka, Shin'yô Nara

Votes: 717

Silent 43-minute short about a sister who works as a secretary by day and a prostitute by night to support her brother, who is a university student. The brother reacts violently when his girlfriend tells him of the rumors of his sister's activities.

This film is the earliest I have seen in which I could clearly recognize Ozu's characteristic tatami-level low-angle shots and transitions via inanimate objects (boiling kettles, etc.). On the other hand, the material is so uncharacteristic, I was simply stunned. I have never seen such melodrama (the brother commits suicide) or such violence (the brother repeatedly strikes his sister) in an Ozu film. On the other hand, it was a powerful and beautifully made film.

13. Lady for a Day (1933)

Passed | 96 min | Comedy, Drama

A gangster tries to make Apple Annie, the Times Square apple seller, a lady for a day.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Warren William, May Robson, Guy Kibbee, Glenda Farrell

Votes: 3,523

Urban fairy tale based on a Damon Runyon story about an apple seller who needs to convince her daughter that she is in high society. With May Robson in an Oscar-nominated performance as Apple Annie, Warren William as the gambler who helps her, Guy Kibbee as her "huband", and Glenda Farrell as a nightclub owner along with tons of other familiar faces. Despite a little schmaltz, this is one of my favorite Capra movies. Robson is just wonderful.

14. Morning Glory (1933)

Passed | 74 min | Drama, Romance

When a naively innocent, aspiring actress arrives on the Broadway scene, she is taken under the wing of several theater veterans who mentor her to ultimate success.

Director: Lowell Sherman | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Adolphe Menjou, Mary Duncan

Votes: 2,428

A young actress (Katharine Hepburn) straight off the little theater stage of her native Vermont expects to take Broadway by storm. Though she is loaded with talent, she finds out that it is not that easy. With Adolph Menjou as a tough theater manager who breaks her heart, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as a playwright and C. Aubrey Smith as an old trooper.

For some reason, I didn't expect to like this one as much as I did. I thought it was great and that Hepburn was fantastic. She captured the foolish over-confidence and fears of the young so perfectly. Her drunk scene at the opening night party is marvellous.

15. Little Women (1933)

Not Rated | 115 min | Drama, Family, Romance

A chronicle of the lives of a group of sisters growing up in nineteenth-century America.

Director: George Cukor | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Paul Lukas, Edna May Oliver

Votes: 5,699

Film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's timeless classic. I don't know what it is about this story that chokes me up so but I think I cry at every version. This is a particularly good one. Katharine Hepburn was born to play Jo.

16. Sons of the Desert (1933)

Passed | 68 min | Comedy

When Stan and Ollie trick their wives into thinking that they are taking a medicinal cruise while they're actually going to a convention, the wives find out the truth the hard way.

Director: William A. Seiter | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charley Chase, Mae Busch

Votes: 7,284

This is a hilarious Laurel and Hardy feature in which the boys attend a lodge convention in Chicago the objection of their wives. They are in trouble throughout. I loved the "two peas in a pot/pod/pod-ah" gag, all the broken crockery, and the "Honolulu Baby" number and reprises. A whole lot of fun.

17. Las Hurdes (1933)

30 min | Documentary, Short

A surrealistic documentary portrait of the region of Las Hurdes, a remote region of Spain where civilisation has barely developed, showing how the local peasants try to survive without even the most basic utilities and skills.

Director: Luis Buñuel | Stars: Abel Jacquin, Alexandre O'Neill

Votes: 4,750

This "documentary" about the benighted population of Las Hurdes, a remote rural region in Northern Spain, has long fascinated me. Is it an attempt at straight-forward descripiton? Is it a satire or parody? Is it a political statement? Probably some combination of all of these. The narrator describes the appalling povery and ignorance of the place in a matter-of-fact tone better suited to a travelogue. Many of the scenes are either ambiguous as to what is really being depicted or are clearly staged. Many of the customs attributed to the villagers seem to defy the normal human survival instinct. A puzzling work.

18. The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932)

Approved | 88 min | Drama, Romance, War

A Chinese warlord and an engaged Christian missionary fall in love.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Nils Asther, Toshia Mori, Walter Connolly

Votes: 3,242

Megan Davis (Barbara Stanwyck) travels to Shanghai during the Chinese Civil War to marry a missionary. Caught up in the chaos in the streets, she is rescued/abducted by ruthless warlord General Yen (Nils Asther). While captive at his headquarters, she is appalled at his brutality, yet the two experience a deep attraction. With Walter Connelly as the general's American financial advisor.

The acting is uniformly wonderful and this might be Capra's most poetic film in terms of its framing and cinematography. My hesitation on the rating is some reservation about the explicit and implicit racism. On the other hand, there is some argument that the plot could reasonably be reframed as "a Chinese warlord is destroyed by his love for a beautiful but naive American." He is portrayed as being barbaric but his merciful actions, at Megan's urging, are big mistakes that cost him everything.

19. Baby Face (1933)

Approved | 71 min | Drama, Romance

A young woman, sexually exploited all her life, decides to turn the tables and exploit the hapless men at a big city bank - by gleefully sleeping her way to the top.

Director: Alfred E. Green | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Donald Cook, Alphonse Ethier

Votes: 5,739

Lily (Barbara Streisand), a bar maid from the wrong side of the tracks, takes some advice from Nietsche and ruthlessly exploits her sex appeal to get to the top, wrecking the lives of numerous men in the process. This has all the attributes of a pre-Code winner and then some. The DVD included both the pre-release cut and the theatrical release. The film was too strong even in the pre-Code days! Many of Lily's more sordid conquests were excised and the German friend who turned her on to Nietsche becomes a kindly old moralist in the theatrical release. Stanwyck is fabulous in this role which provided some early practice for Phyllis Dietrichson. Recommended.

20. The Dancing Girl of Izu (1933)

94 min | Drama

In this adaptation from Kawabata, a young student becomes friends with a brother and sister in a troupe of travelling entertainers, who perform at a geisha house in mining country.

Director: Heinosuke Gosho | Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Den Ohinata, Tokuji Kobayashi, Kinuko Wakamizu

Votes: 79

A brother and sister form part of an itinerant acting company. The sister and another girl dance in private homes while the brother and other women play musical instruments. A student joins the little company on its travels and forms an attachment with the sister. In the meantime, we learn that the brother previously sold a mine, which was his inheritance, on disadvantageous terms to a man who now wants to lure the sister back to marry his son. It all ends very sadly with the girl and the student confessing their love for each other but the student departing for Tokyo and leaving the girl weeping.

I watched this Japanese silent film on YouTube. The print I saw is extremely cloudy and I'm not finding much on the film. Its director made the first talkie in Japan but this film is silent. The dancing girl/sister was played by Kinuyo Tanaka, who was the moll in Dragnet Girl and appeared in several other of the Japanese silents I have seen recently. This is the finest and most moving performance I have seen by her as a young actress. She had an extensive filmography and starred in several 50's classics directed by Mizoguchi, including Life of Oharu (she played Oharu), Ugetsu and Sansho, the Bailiff.

I realize I'm going on and on without saying much but this was a fairly bad print of what I think must have been quite an impressive film if it had the proper musical accompaniment (what I saw was totally silent) and a clearly discernable print. I have not seen any thing else by the director, Heinosuke Gosho, who seems to have quite an energetic style and to have been well-respected at the time from what I can gather.

21. Passing Fancy (1933)

100 min | Drama

Two Tokyo co-workers come across a destitute young lady in search of a place to live.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Takeshi Sakamoto, Nobuko Fushimi, Den Ohinata, Chôko Iida

Votes: 1,164

A layabout single father and his handsome younger friend happen upon a homeless young woman and arrange a place for her to stay. The father falls for her but she is more interested in the friend. A bittersweet story mostly centering on the bond between the father and his son. This all takes place in the slums of Tokyo. This took a while to get going but once it did it brought tears to my eyes. Some beautiful Ozu touches like the fireworks near the end.

22. Dragnet Girl (1933)

100 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

A gangster tries to find redemption with the inadvertent help of an innocent shop girl and his jealous girlfriend will do anything to keep him.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Jôji Oka, Sumiko Mizukubo, Kôji Mitsui

Votes: 596

A gang leader and former boxer is supported by his moll. He is attracted to the sweet sister of a gang member, who wants her brother to go straight. But the moll is not ready to give our hero up. Nothing turns out as expected. Another penetrating film from one of my favorite directors. I thought both the ladies were outstanding.

23. Footlight Parade (1933)

Passed | 104 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

Chester Kent struggles against time, romance, and a rival's spy to produce spectacular live "prologues" for movie houses.

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell

Votes: 4,338

A musical comedy director (James Cagney) bends to the times and switches to producting live "prologues" for motion pictures. The third of at least three mind-blowing Busby Berkeley musicals in 1933. With the usual Warner Brothers musical stock company plus Frank McHugh and Hugh Herbert.

24. Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

Approved | 68 min | Adventure, Drama

In the depths of the Depression, two teenage boys strike out on their own in order to help their struggling parents and find life on the road tougher than expected.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Frankie Darro, Rochelle Hudson, Edwin Phillips, Dorothy Coonan Wellman

Votes: 1,672

Hard-hitting Warner Brothers pre-Code exposé about kids who leave home to seek work when their parents lose their jobs. Life is pretty tough on the road but these kids fight back against the relentless pressure to move on. Terrific stuff up until a judge solves everybody's problems with a snap of his fingers and assures them better days are right around the corner. The lead, Frankie Darro, is splendid. He had the talent to be another Cagney but was hampered by his small stature.

25. Heroes for Sale (1933)

Passed | 76 min | Drama, War

A veteran fights drug addiction to make his way in the business world.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Loretta Young, Richard Barthelmess, Aline MacMahon, Gordon Westcott

Votes: 1,940

If poor Tom Holmes (Richard Barthelmess) didn't have bad luck, he would have no luck at all. The story follows his life from the time he gets shot by friendly fire in WWI through his fate as a "forgotten man" in the Depression. Along the way, Tom gets wrongfully jailed for inciting a riot and branded as a Red. An interesting pre-Code take on the struggles of the working man in the 20's and 30's.

26. Duck Soup (1933)

Not Rated | 69 min | Comedy, Musical, War

93 Metascore

Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale.

Director: Leo McCarey | Stars: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx

Votes: 53,107

Groucho is drafted by Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont returns!) to lead Fredonia and he leads it straight into war with neighboring Sylvania. Chico and Harpo spy for the other sides. This is the one with the mirror gag and the multiple Grouchos. It is the most chaotic outing yet. I laughed but I missed Harpo and Chico performing on their instruments.

27. Man's Castle (1933)

75 min | Drama, Romance

Bill takes Trina into his depression camp cabin. Later, just as he finds showgirl LaRue who will support him, Trina becomes pregnant.

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Loretta Young, Marjorie Rambeau, Glenda Farrell

Votes: 1,255

A free-spirited vagabond (Spencer Tracy) picks up a penniless waif (Loretta Young) and they set up housekeeping in a Hooverville on the Hudson. He is tempted by both a nightclub singer and the open road and she is superhuman in her saintly understanding of his need for independence even after she becomes pregnant. Still, there is a fairy-tale quality to this film that gives it a sweetness that is quite beguiling.

28. Bombshell (1933)

Passed | 96 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Sexpot film star Lola Burns seeks a new image and tries marrying a marquis and adopting a baby - all sorts of schemes which go awry.

Director: Victor Fleming | Stars: Jean Harlow, Lee Tracy, Frank Morgan, Franchot Tone

Votes: 2,111

29. Lady Killer (1933)

Passed | 76 min | Comedy, Crime

A former gangster makes it big in Hollywood, but his old life catches up with him.

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: James Cagney, Mae Clarke, Margaret Lindsay, Leslie Fenton

Votes: 1,472

Jimmy Cagney plays a tough guy who gets involved with some con artists courtesy of a tempting moll played by Mae Clarke. Things get too hot to handle when the gang moves on to jewel heists that lead to murder and Jimmy moves to California, where, after some hard times, he becomes a movie star. With Margaret Lindsay as another star.

Cagney displays his usual energy and charm and this is an entertaining picture. It is kind of puzzling in tone. The dialogue is light and snappy and yet there is some serious violence toward the end.

30. Picture Snatcher (1933)

Not Rated | 77 min | Drama, Crime

Ex-convict Danny Kean decides to become honest as a photographer for a paper. He falls in love with Patricia, the daughter of the policeman who arrested him. Mr Nolan, her father, doesn't ... See full summary »

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: James Cagney, Ralph Bellamy, Patricia Ellis, Alice White

Votes: 1,288

When mob boss Danny Kean (James Cagney) is released from prison, he decides to go straight and gets a job as a photographer for a sleezy tabloid. He finds that his gangster skills serve him well as he tries to get stories. With Ralph Bellamy as the City Editor, Patricia Ellis as Danny's girl, and Robert Emmett O'Connor as her policeman father.

This movie just kept getting better and better and Cagney was on top of his game. I really enjoyed it.

31. The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933)

Not Rated | 97 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

King Henry VIII marries five more times after his divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon.

Director: Alexander Korda | Stars: Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, Franklin Dyall, Miles Mander

Votes: 3,400

The first time I saw this movie was in drama class many moons ago when I was in high school. I can still vividly recall the scene when Charles Laughton's Henry plays cards with Elsa Lanchester's Anne of Cleves. I enjoyed that just as much this time, possibly more. This is a very fun movie and a performance that shows off Laughton's range from comedy to pathos.

32. The Patriots (1933)

98 min | Drama, War

Outskirts is an internationally renowned masterpiece of early sound cinema. In a remote Russian village during World War I, colorful and nuanced characters experience divided loyalties: ... See full summary »

Director: Boris Barnet | Stars: Aleksandr Chistyakov, Sergey Komarov, Yelena Kuzmina, Nikolay Bogolyubov

Votes: 830

Early Soviet sound film relating Russian history from 1914-1917 from the perspective of villagers. You know you're in for something different when the first words spoken are by a horse! This covers such events as a strike (most village men seem to be shoemakers), World War I both on the home front and in the trenches, and the final victory of the Revolution. However, Barnet is interested in the personal and the everyday and there is quite a bit of humor in the film. I liked it.

33. Every-Night Dreams (1933)

64 min | Drama

A single mother works tirelessly as a Ginza bar hostess to ensure a better life for her young son until--her long-lost husband returns.

Director: Mikio Naruse | Stars: Sumiko Kurishima, Teruko Kojima, Jun Arai, Tatsuo Saitô

Votes: 403

Bleak Japanese silent drama about a young single mother in Depression-era Tokyo who is supporting her son by working as a bar hostess. Her chronically unemployed ex-husband returns and she tries to cheer him from his defeatism. Not a good time but the acting is wonderful and Naruse makes you feel for everyone involved.

34. Apart from You (1933)

64 min | Drama

Two Geisha with a connection to a young man deal with life's hardships.

Director: Mikio Naruse | Stars: Mitsuko Yoshikawa, Akio Isono, Sumiko Mizukubo, Reikichi Kawamura

Votes: 417

An aging geisha continues working so that she can give her son an education. The son is ashamed of his mother and has joined a gang instead of going to school. The mother's young co-worker is working to support her family (headed by a drunken father) and will do anything to save her younger sister from her own fate. The son and the co-worker form a bond that brings mother and son back together. This silent film is a very sensitively done character study. I liked it a lot.

35. Torch Singer (1933)

Passed | 71 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

When she can't support her illegitimate child, an abandoned young woman puts her up for adoption and pursues a career as a torch singer.

Directors: Alexander Hall, George Somnes | Stars: Claudette Colbert, Ricardo Cortez, David Manners, Lyda Roberti

Votes: 513

Claudette Colbert plays Sally Trent, a chorus girl whose lover unknowingly left for China while she was pregnant. After a struggle, she is forced by hard times to give the child up for adoption. Later, she becomes a famous torch singer and children's radio program host under the name Mimi Benton. With Ricardo Cortez as Mimi's boyfriend and David Manners as the baby's father.

Claudette Colbert's performance makes this "woman's picture" something special. She does her own singing and, while she could not have made a career of it, she does have soul.

36. Une nuit sur le mont chauve (1933)

8 min | Animation, Short

Mussorgsky's composition is the soundtrack for this pin-screen animated take on night and wild things. A scarecrow blows down, clouds move by quickly. Beings take shape; a town appears, ... See full summary »

Directors: Alexander Alexeieff, Claire Parker

Votes: 663

Animated short using the "pinscreen" technique set to the Mussorgsky compositon and depicting spooky midnight revels. This predates the Disney Fantasia version by several years. Interesting.

37. She Done Him Wrong (1933)

Passed | 66 min | Comedy, Drama, History

In the Gay Nineties, a seductive nightclub singer contends with several suitors, including a jealous escaped convict and a handsome temperance league member.

Director: Lowell Sherman | Stars: Mae West, Cary Grant, Owen Moore, Gilbert Roland

Votes: 5,040 | Gross: $2.00M

Fun, fun comedy based on Mae West's Broadway hit "Diamond Lil" and an early role for Cary Grant as one of her many admirers. It's hard to fathom why this was so shocking in its day. There are plenty of double entendres but it's just bawdy good fun. This is the one where she asks Grant to "Come up sometime and see me."

38. Cavalcade (1933)

Passed | 112 min | Drama, Romance, War

The triumphs and tragedies of two English families, the upper-crust Marryots and the working-class Bridges, from 1899 to 1933 are portrayed.

Director: Frank Lloyd | Stars: Diana Wynyard, Clive Brook, Una O'Connor, Herbert Mundin

Votes: 4,112 | Gross: $7.63M

Upstairs/downstairs history of a London family from 1899-1933, with an anti-war message. I enjoyed this despite the disadvantages of watching in parts on YouTube with a less than wonderful print. Dana Wynyard, who played the matriarch, was truly wonderful in the role -- very understated yet full of feeling. With Clive Brooke as her husband and Una O'Connor as their housemaid, later turned pubkeeper. It's kind of sad to think that by the time this was made another war and more sadness were already on the horizon.

39. His Double Life (1933)

68 min | Comedy, Drama

Priam Farrel is a celebrated artist but a social recluse. When his valet dies of a sudden illness, a mix-up leads to the body being identified as Farrel's. The timid artist then assumes the... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Hopkins | Stars: Roland Young, Lillian Gish, Montagu Love, Lumsden Hare

Votes: 281

Roland Young plays the most famous painter in England who has lived as a recluse since a very young age. When his secretary dies, he allows the "artist" to be buried and assumes the identity of the secretary. This allows him to meet and fall in love with Lillian Gish's delightful, unflappable Alice, with whom the secretary had been corresponding. I really enjoyed this comedy, chiefly for the performances. It is of a very high standard for something that is not a studio product.

40. To the Last Man (1933)

74 min | Romance, Western

In Kentucky just after the Civil War, the Hayden-Colby feud leads to Jed Colby being sent to prison for 15 years for murder. The Haydens head for Nevada and when Colby gets out of prison he heads there also seeking revenge. The head of the Hayden family tries to avoid more killing but the inevitable showdown has to occur, complicated by Lynn Hayden and Ellen Colby's plans to marry.

Director: Henry Hathaway | Stars: Randolph Scott, Esther Ralston, Jack La Rue, Buster Crabbe

Votes: 427

41. International House (1933)

Passed | 68 min | Comedy

Assorted wacky characters converge on a Chinese hotel to bid on a new invention, television.

Director: A. Edward Sutherland | Stars: W.C. Fields, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Rudy Vallee, Stuart Erwin

Votes: 1,113

Musical and comic showcase built around the convergence of characters at a Chinese hotel to bid on a new technology ... television. Featuring, among others, W.C. Fields, Burns and Allen, Bela Lugosi, Rudy Vallee, Sterling Hayden, Francis Pangborne, and Cab Calloway. My favorite bits were by fields and Cab Calloway's fantastic rendition of "Reefer Man".

42. The Little Giant (1933)

Approved | 76 min | Comedy, Crime, Romance

When Prohibition ends, a beer baron sees the writing on the wall, quits the rackets, and tries to break into California society.

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Mary Astor, Helen Vinson, Russell Hopton

Votes: 962

When Roosevelt is elected, beer baron/gangster Bugsy Ahern (Edward G. Robinson) figures Prohibition is on its last legs. So he retires and takes his ill-gotten gains to Santa Barbara, where he aspires to enter high society. He soon discovers that all the racketeers don't carry guns. With Helen Vinson as a society girl with larceny in her heart and Mary Astor as the other kind. This is an OK entertainment but not nearly as funny as I had hoped.

43. I'm No Angel (1933)

Passed | 87 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

Circus performer Tira seeks a better life pursuing the company of wealthy New York men with improbable comic complications along the way.

Director: Wesley Ruggles | Stars: Mae West, Cary Grant, Gregory Ratoff, Edward Arnold

Votes: 2,729 | Gross: $2.85M

Another fun showcase for Mae West's one-liners. In this one, Mae hits the big time in a circus and falls for a tall, dark, and handsome millionare, played by the gorgeous young Cary Grant.

44. Midnight Mary (1933)

Passed | 74 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

An abused orphan sinks into a life of crime.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Loretta Young, Franchot Tone, Ricardo Cortez, Andy Devine

Votes: 1,131

Mary (Loretta Young) is on trial for murder and the movie is one long flashback as she reflects on how she got where she is. Basically, the lass started out playing on a garbage dump and got a lot of bad breaks that led her to become a gangster's (Ricardo Cortez) moll. She tries to go straight after she meets a rich young man, Tom (Franchot Tone), during a casino hold-up. With Una Merkel as Mary's best friend/fellow moll and Andy Devine as Tom's best friend. This one could have used a less cliched script but the performances are nice, and Young is certainly beautiful and wears lovely gowns.

45. Queen Christina (1933)

Approved | 99 min | Biography, Drama, History

Queen Christina of Sweden is a popular monarch who is loyal to her country. However, when she falls in love with a Spanish envoy, she must choose between the throne and the man she loves.

Director: Rouben Mamoulian | Stars: Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Ian Keith, Lewis Stone

Votes: 6,726 | Gross: $0.77M

Biopic about the Swedish queen (Greta Garbo) who gave up her kingdom in exchange for her independence and, at least here, the love of a Spaniard (John Gilbert). With C. Aubrey Smith as her faithful servant, Lewis Stone as a pompous courtier, and Roland Young as a jilted suitor.

I remember really disliking this the first time I saw it. The dialogue and all the acting, including especially Garbo's, seemed really wooden to me. For some reason, this time it was much better. After an unpromising start, the interplay between Garbo and Gilbert captured me and I enjoyed the rest of the film.

46. Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

Passed | 77 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

The disappearance of people and corpses leads a reporter to a wax museum and a sinister sculptor.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell, Frank McHugh

Votes: 4,263

A brilliant sculptor's (Lionel Atwill) wax creations are destroyed in a fire. Years later, the sculptor has recreated his works and reopened his museum in New York. Simultaneously, bodies mysteriously disappear from the city morgue. An intrepid girl reporter (Glenda Farrell) is on the case. This was remade as House of Wax with Vincent Price. I thought it was good fun. It was also fascinating to see the two-strip Technicolor process.

Favorite line: Glenda Farrell as the reporter to her editor: "I'm gonna make you eat dirt, you soap bubble!"

47. Hallelujah I'm a Bum (1933)

Passed | 82 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

A New York tramp (Jolson) falls in love with the mayor's amnesiac girlfriend after rescuing her from a suicide attempt

Director: Lewis Milestone | Stars: Al Jolson, Madge Evans, Frank Morgan, Harry Langdon

Votes: 707

Star vehicle for Al Jolson with songs by Rogers and Hart. Jolson plays the leader of the hobos in Central Park who also has a friendship with the city mayor (Frank Morgan). With Madge Evans as the mayor's girlfriend and Harry Langdon as a Marxist tax collector. This is an odd little musical with sections of rhyming rhythmic dialogue. Worth seeing, though I'm not a huge fan.

48. The Kennel Murder Case (1933)

Passed | 73 min | Crime, Mystery