- City Lights (1931)
- The Public Enemy (1931)
- Scarface (1932)
- 42nd Street (1933)
- Dinner at Eight (1933)
- Duck Soup (1933)
- Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
- It Happened One Night (1934)
- Of Human Bondage (1934)
- The Thin Man (1934)
- Twentieth Century (1934)
- Hands Across the Table (1935)
- Modern Times (1936)
- My Man Godfrey (1936)
- Swing Time (1936)
- Easy Living (1937)
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
- Bringing Up Baby (1938)
- Four Daughters (1938)
- Jezebel (1938)
- The Lady Vanishes (1938)
- Intermezzo (1939)
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
- Golden Boy (1939)
- Gone With the Wind (1939)
- Midnight (1939)
- The Roaring Twenties (1939)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- The Women (1939)
- Wuthering Heights (1939)
42nd Street + Gold Diggers of 1933 introduced me to the dream team that was Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. They were so swell together. And I've got a massive crush on Dick Powell now.
It's the boyish charm. I'm interested to see his later roles, because he was unrecognizable to me in 1952's The Bad and the Beautiful. But I'm pretty sure crooning Dick of the 30s is my favorite.
There's so much about these films that I love. The humor, the musical numbers, and of course, the clothes. But in talking about Keeler and Powell, there's such a sweetness and warmth to their chemistry that makes 42nd Street and Gold Diggers so enjoyable. And talk about the romance!
This is exactly what I want out of life.
And then of course, there's the "Petting in the Park" number from Gold Diggers.
42nd Street is actually my favorite of the two. It has one of the greatest movie lines: "You're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!" Classic, kind of like the ending musical sequence which I have downloaded and have had stuck in my head for a week now.
I hope to write a more substantial post on these two films because they're really quite remarkable.
Now onto Easy Living. My goodness! Directed by Mitchell Leisen and written by Preston Sturges, the film stars the infinitely precious Jean Arthur as Mary Smith, a working girl who gets caught up in the lives of the rich purely by accident. Ray Milland is her dashing leading man, a veritable dream boat. I love this film because it's laugh out loud funny, and Jean Arthur has endeared herself to me. She was so effortlessly funny and cute, with one of the best voices. And the entire look of this film embodies the 30s aesthetics.
Sources (1 +2)
I don't have an exhaustive list, but I've always been enamored of Adrian's designs. Everybody was always dressed to the nines, dripping in glamor. One of my favorites includes:
Ginger's Swing Time dress has always been a favorite, but Fred's whole look is another favorite. Menswear during this time was very important.
Shop Ruche, one of my favorite online shopping sites, has a wonderful vintage collection. Their 1930s section is divine.
Walt Disney was also doing big things in the thirties with his Silly Symphonies. My personal favorites are "Flowers and Trees" (1932) and "Cookie Carnival" (1935).
In 1937, Walt produced his first full length masterpiece, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Without it, many animators today wouldn't have jobs. (At least according to Ron Clements, co director of The Little Mermaid). This was the film famously referred to as Disney's folly. He was advised to not create the first full length animated feature. Even his wife Lillian said no one would pay money to see a dwarf picture. But Walt and his princess proved them all wrong.
Snow White's premiere was a star studded event where major stars of the time were in attendance. Ward Kimball, one of Walt's Nine Old Men and principle animators, had this to say about the audience:
"Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were sitting close, and when Snow White was poisoned, stretched out on that slab, they started blowing their noses. I could hear it - crying - that was the big surprise. We worried about the serious stuff and whether they would feel for this girl, and when they did, I knew it was in the bag."
Charlie Chaplin, a great influence on Walt, deeply admired the film. He said that it "even surpassed our high expectations. In Dwarf Dopey, Disney has created one of the greatest comedians of all time."
Although Snow White garnered lots of praise, modern critics are generally negative. You can read again why they're wrong. But sometimes when people defend Snow White, they use the time period as an excuse for her passivity and demure personality. It's odd. Movie heroines of the 1930s were incredibly varied, if not racially diverse. These women had beauty, brains, wit, gumption, and moxie. And they were played by stylish, independent, trailblazing actresses. A couple of them appear below.
Each of these women inspired on movie screens and off. They could be dames or screwballs. But the screwballs are my absolute favorite.
The Screwball Comedy Heroine
Women have been funny for a very long time. And when you watch the screwball comedies of the 30s, it's such fun. As for me, I aspire to be a screwball heroine over a femme fatale. Formative influences here include the following:
Katharine Hepburn as Susan Vance in Bringing Up Baby
Claudette Colbert as Eve Peabody in Midnight
Carole Lombard as Irene in My Man Godfrey
The 1930s have even influenced Pixar's Up. Carl and Ellie were both born in 1931, and their childhood hero Charles Muntz was modeled after three men who began to make their marks in the 30s: Errol Flynn, Howard Hughes, and Walt Disney.
My last favorite thing about this decade, or inspired by it, is the Tower of Terror ride at the Disney parks. Imagine a hotel for the stars at its height in 1939 that gets haunted by ghosts. The Hollywood Tower Hotel is my dream home.