Suggests for films about and made in the 1920s and 1930s
September 9, 2010 1:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning a personal/blogging project next year to watch films set and which were made during the interwar years and documentaries about the period, from the close of the first world war up until the start of world war two and I was hoping for some suggestions.

My previous projects have been to watch all of Hitchcock's films and Woody Allen's in order which has a particular structure but this is a bit more nebulous and scattershot and although I have a fair few in mind, I want to make sure I'm not going to be missing anything important.

I'm hoping to compare how contemporary filmmakers from the 20s and 30s like Capra viewed their own period with the hindsight impressions of those who came afterwards.

Stories about any part of the world included too please.
posted by feelinglistless to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Crowd and Man With a Movie Camera are my two favorites from that time.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:26 PM on September 9, 2010

Not exactly sure what you are asking for, but I would think the Marlene Dietrich films that Josef Von Sternberg directed would fit that bill.
Short List:
Blue Angel
Shanghai Express
Blonde Venus

The Grand Hotel, with Garbo, Crawford and the Barrymores.
The Thin Man, with William Powell
Those two are more Capraesque, if that's what you are after.
posted by Stellaboots at 4:26 PM on September 9, 2010

This sounds absolutely fascinating! I was going to suggest some Hitchcock, but I see you saw those already. Capra too!

The Blue Angel, Grand Hotel, M and probably many more. There is a page at Wikipedia that lists notable films for time periods (here are the 30s). Interestingly enough, those mentioned are on the list.

Now there is this one silent film that is actually a classic sci-fi. I'm not into Sci-fi, but it has such an amazing message and the story behind the actors is just as interesting. It is a German film which sends a strong anti-Nazi message.

The lead actor, however, later becomes a real Nazi in real life! In contrast, the lead actress later flees Germany and is very anti-Nazi. It makes for both an interesting watch and interesting research. It's called Metropolis. I loved it even though I'm not a sci-fi girl.

Good luck and I'd love to chat more with you about this. Classic film is my love and the culture of the day related to film is something I look at all the time. :)
posted by magnoliasouth at 4:36 PM on September 9, 2010

OMG! Stellaboots beat me to them. LOL! There was no post when I started this. Shucks.
posted by magnoliasouth at 4:37 PM on September 9, 2010

One of my favorite films is Cold Comfort Farm, which takes place in England in the 1930s. The movie was made in 1995, but the book by Stella Gibbons was published in 1932.

A classic film from 1934 is It Happened One Night, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. It swept the 1935 Oscars.

Another favorite, which was released in January of 1940, so practically a 30s movie is His Girl Friday. It's the quintessential snappy dialogue (and maybe check out more of Howard Hawkes' stuff, although I think HGF is probably the best).

A somewhat odd George Cukor movie from 1938 I enjoyed recently is Holiday, with Cary Grant & Katherine Hepburn (before Philadelphia Story which came out in 1940).
posted by witchstone at 7:10 PM on September 9, 2010

Do you want to watch films made in that period? Or just about that period?

In that period--Hollywood's golden age--you can watch 10 films a day!
posted by Ideefixe at 7:20 PM on September 9, 2010

Ernst Lubitsch's Ninotchka (1939) set in Paris with the enigmatic Greta Garbo and funny, charming, underrated Melvyn Douglas.

I'm hoping to compare how contemporary filmmakers from the 20s and 30s like Capra viewed their own period with the hindsight impressions of those who came afterwards.

This film portrays Soviet communists as harmless, bumbling killjoys easily corrupted by their secret longing for the decadence of the west. A far cry from the paranoia of the coming Cold War years.
posted by marsha56 at 7:31 PM on September 9, 2010

I want to see films made in the period & about the period, Ideefixe. But the key ones, perhaps which speak about the period most.
posted by feelinglistless at 9:29 AM on September 10, 2010

About the period

Paper Moon
The Grapes of Wrath (made in 1940, set earlier)
Bonnie and Clyde
King of the Hill (1993)
Miller's Crossing (1990)

In the period
American Madness' (1932)

Golddiggers of 1933' (1933)
Wild Boys of the Road' (1933)

It Happened One Night' (1934)
My Man Godfrey' (1936)
'You Can't Take It With You' (1938)
posted by Ideefixe at 1:18 PM on September 12, 2010

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