Best 1930s, Best Movies, Best Year-End

The Best Movies From The 1930s

“What are the best 1930s Movies?” We looked at 162 of the top 1930s films, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 35 films, all appearing on 3 or more “Best 1930s” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 100+ movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 35 Best 1930s Movies Ever Made



35 .) A Night at the Opera (1935) directed by Sam Wood

	A Night at the Opera (1935)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Chapel Boro
  • IMDB
  • List Challenges

The Marx Brothers take on high society and the opera world to bring two lovers together.



34 .) Alexander Nevsky (1938) directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein

	Alexander Nevsky (1938)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flick Chart
  • IMDB
  • White City Cinema

When German knights invade Russia, Prince Alexander Nevsky must rally his people to resist the formidable force. After the Teutonic soldiers take over an eastern Russian city, Alexander stages his stand at Novgorod, where a major battle is fought on the ice of frozen Lake Chudskoe. While Alexander leads his outnumbered troops, two of their number, Vasili and Gavrilo, begin a contest of bravery to win the hand of a local maiden.



33 .) Holiday (1938) directed by George Cukor

	Holiday (1938)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Chapel Boro
  • List Challenges
  • Ranker

Johnny Case, a freethinking financier, has finally found the girl of his dreams — Julia Seton, the spoiled daughter of a socially prominent millionaire — and she’s agreed to marry him. But when Johnny plans a holiday for the two to enjoy life while they are still young, his fiancée has other plans & that is for Johnny to work in her father’s bank!



32 .) Jezebel (1938) directed by William Wyler

	Jezebel (1938)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI

In 1850s Louisiana, the willfulness of a tempestuous Southern belle threatens to destroy all who care for her.



31 .) L’Atalante (1934) directed by Jean Vigo

	L'Atalante (1934)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flick Chart
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

Capricious small-town girl Juliette and barge captain Jean marry after a whirlwind courtship, and she comes to live aboard his boat, L’Atalante. As they make their way down the Seine, Jean grows weary of Juliette’s flirtations with his all-male crew, and Juliette longs to escape the monotony of the boat and experience the excitement of a big city. When she steals away to Paris by herself, her husband begins to think their marriage was a mistake.



30 .) My Man Godfrey (1936) directed by Gregory La Cava

	My Man Godfrey (1936)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • Ranker

Fifth Avenue socialite Irene Bullock needs a “forgotten man” to win a scavenger hunt, and no one is more forgotten than Godfrey Park, who resides in a dump by the East River. Irene hires Godfrey as a servant for her riotously unhinged family, to the chagrin of her spoiled sister, Cornelia, who tries her best to get Godfrey fired. As Irene falls for her new butler, Godfrey turns the tables and teaches the frivolous Bullocks a lesson or two.



29 .) Pépé le Moko (1937) directed by Julien Duvivier

	Pépé le Moko (1937)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Chapel Boro
  • Flick Chart
  • MUBI

Pépé le Moko, one of France’s most wanted criminals, hides out in the Casbah section of Algiers. He knows police will be waiting for him if he tries to leave the city. When Pépé meets Gaby Gould, a gorgeous woman from Paris who is lost in the Casbah, he falls for her. She also reminds him of all the things he loves about Paris. Even as Pépé knows he is being trailed by Inspector Slimane, he considers a future with Gaby.



28 .) Stagecoach (1939) directed by John Ford

	Stagecoach (1939)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI

A group of people traveling on a stagecoach find their journey complicated by the threat of Geronimo, and learn something about each other in the process.



27 .) Swing Time (1936) directed by George Stevens

	Swing Time (1936)

Lists It Appears On:

  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Ranker

Lucky is tricked into missing his wedding to Margaret by the other members of Pop’s magic and dance act, and has to make $25,000 to be allowed to marry her. He and Pop go to New York where they run into Penny, a dancing instructor. She and Lucky form a successful dance partnership, but romance is blighted by his old attachment to Margaret and hers for Ricardo—the band leader who won’t play for them to dance together.



26 .) The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) directed by Michael Curtiz

	The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI

Robin Hood fights nobly for justice against the evil Sir Guy of Gisbourne while striving to win the hand of the beautiful Maid Marian.



25 .) The Lady Vanishes (1938) directed by Alfred Hitchcock

	The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker
  • White City Cinema

On a train headed for England a group of travelers is delayed by an avalanche. Holed up in a hotel in a fictional European country, young Iris befriends elderly Miss Froy. When the train resumes, Iris suffers a bout of unconsciousness and wakes to find the old woman has disappeared. The other passengers ominously deny Miss Froy ever existed, so Iris begins to investigate with another traveler and, as the pair sleuth, romantic sparks fly.



24 .) Trouble in Paradise (1932) directed by Ernst Lubitsch

	Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Lists It Appears On:

  • MUBI
  • Ranker
  • White City Cinema

Thief Gaston Monescu and pickpocket Lily are partners in crime and love. Working for perfume company executive Mariette Colet, the two crooks decide to combine their criminal talents to rob their employer. Under the alias of Monsieur Laval, Gaston uses his position as Mariette’s personal secretary to become closer to her. However, he takes things too far when he actually falls in love with Mariette, and has to choose between her and Lily.



23 .) Wuthering Heights (1939) directed by William Wyler

	Wuthering Heights (1939)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI

The Earnshaws are Yorkshire farmers during the early 19th Century. One day, Mr. Earnshaw returns from a trip to the city, bringing with him a ragged little boy called Heathcliff. Earnshaw’s son, Hindley, resents the child, but Heathcliff becomes companion and soulmate to Hindley’s sister, Catherine. After her parents die, Cathy and Heathcliff grow up wild and free on the Moors and despite the continued enmity between Hindley and Heathcliff they’re happy – until Cathy meets Edgar Linton, the son of a wealthy neighbor. ×



22 .) You Can’t Take It with You (1938) directed by Frank Capra

	You Can't Take It with You (1938)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • Ranker

Alice, the only relatively normal member of the eccentric Sycamore family, falls in love with Tony Kirby. His wealthy banker father, Anthony P. Kirby, and his snobbish mother, strongly disapprove of the match. When the Kirbys are invited to dinner to become better acquainted with their future in-laws, things do not turn out the way Alice had hoped.



21 .) Bride of Frankenstein (1935) directed by James Whale

	Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Film Crave
  • IMDB
  • MUBI

Bride of Frankenstein begins where James Whale’s Frankenstein from 1931 ended. Dr. Frankenstein has not been killed as previously portrayed and now he wants to get away from the mad experiments. Yet when his wife is kidnapped by his creation, Frankenstein agrees to help him create a new monster, this time a woman.



20 .) Bringing Up Baby (1938) directed by Howard Hawks

	Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Ranker

David Huxley is waiting to get a bone he needs for his museum collection. Through a series of strange circumstances, he meets Susan Vance, and the duo have a series of misadventures which include a leopard called Baby.



19 .) Earth (1930) directed by Aleksandr Dovzhenko

	Earth (1930)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film Site
  • IMDB
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

In the peaceful countryside, Vassily opposes the rich kulaks over the coming of collective farming.



18 .) Frankenstein (1931) directed by James Whale

	Frankenstein (1931)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Film Crave
  • IMDB
  • List Challenges

Dr Henry Frankenstein is obsessed with assembling a living being from parts of several exhumed corpses.



17 .) Freaks (1932) directed by Tod Browning

	Freaks (1932)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Chapel Boro
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

A circus’ beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.



16 .) It Happened One Night (1934) directed by Frank Capra

	It Happened One Night (1934)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film Crave
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Ranker

Having just tied the knot with society aviator, King Westley, Ellie Andrews is whisked away to her father’s yacht and out of King’s clutches. Ellie jumps ship and eventually winds up on a bus headed back to her husband. Reluctantly she must accept the help of out-of- work reporter, Peter Warne. Actually, Warne doesn’t give her any choice—either she sticks with him until he gets her back to her husband, or he’ll blow the whistle on Ellie to her father. Either way, Peter gets what he wants—a really juicy newspaper story. ×



15 .) King Kong (1933) directed by Merian C. Cooper

	King Kong (1933)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI

A film crew discovers the “eighth wonder of the world,” a giant prehistoric ape, and brings him back to New York, where he wreaks havoc.



14 .) L’Age D’Or (1930) directed by Luis Buñuel

	L'Age D'Or (1930)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film Site
  • Flick Chart
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

The film consists of a series of tightly interlinked vignettes, the most sustained of which details the story of a man and a woman who are passionately in love. Their attempts to consummate their passion are constantly thwarted, by their families, by the Church and bourgeois society in general.



13 .) Modern Times (1936) directed by Charlie Chaplin

	Modern Times (1936)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Chapel Boro
  • Film Crave
  • MUBI
  • Ranker

The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman.



12 .) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) directed by Frank Capra

	Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film Crave
  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI

Naive and idealistic Jefferson Smith, leader of the Boy Rangers, is appointed to the United States Senate by the puppet governor of his state. He soon discovers, upon going to Washington, many shortcomings of the political process as his earnest goal of a national boys’ camp leads to a conflict with the state political boss.



11 .) Ninotchka (1939) directed by Ernst Lubitsch

	Ninotchka (1939)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Ranker

A stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business finds herself attracted to a man who represents everything she is supposed to detest.



10 .) The Awful Truth (1937) directed by Leo McCarey

	The Awful Truth (1937)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • Ranker
  • White City Cinema

Unfounded suspicions lead a married couple to begin divorce proceedings, whereupon they start undermining each other’s attempts to find new romance.



9 .) The Rules of the Game (1939) directed by Jean Renoir

	The Rules of the Game (1939)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flick Chart
  • IMDB
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

A weekend at a marquis’ country château lays bare some ugly truths about a group of haut bourgeois acquaintances.



8 .) The Thin Man (1934) directed by W.S. Van Dyke

	The Thin Man (1934)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Chapel Boro
  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • Ranker

A husband-and-wife detective team takes on the search for a missing inventor and almost get killed for their efforts.



7 .) Vampyr (1932) directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer

	Vampyr (1932)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Flick Chart
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

A traveler obsessed with the supernatural visits an old inn and finds evidence of vampires.



6 .) City Lights (1931) directed by Charles Chaplin

	City Lights (1931)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film Crave
  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

City Lights is the first silent film that Charlie Chaplin directed after he established himself with sound accompanied films. The film is about a penniless man who falls in love with a flower girl.



5 .) Duck Soup (1933) directed by Leo McCarey

	Duck Soup (1933)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film Crave
  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Ranker

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



4 .) Gone with the Wind (1939) directed by Victor Fleming

	Gone with the Wind (1939)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Chapel Boro
  • Film Crave
  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI

The spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner is forced to use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of poverty, following Maj. Gen. William Sherman’s destructive “March to the Sea,” during the American Civil War.



3 .) The Blue Angel (1930) directed by Josef von Sternberg

	The Blue Angel (1930)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film Site
  • Flick Chart
  • IMDB
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

Prim professor Immanuel Rath finds some of his students ogling racy photos of cabaret performer Lola Lola and visits a local club, The Blue Angel, in an attempt to catch them there. Seeing Lola perform, the teacher is filled with lust, eventually resigning his position at the school to marry the young woman. However, his marriage to a coquette – whose job is to entice men – proves to be more difficult than Rath imagined.



2 .) The Wizard of Oz (1939) directed by Victor Fleming

	The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Chapel Boro
  • Film Crave
  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI

Young Dorothy finds herself in a magical world where she makes friends with a lion, a scarecrow and a tin man as they make their way along the yellow brick road to talk with the Wizard and ask for the things they miss most in their lives. The Wicked Witch of the West is the only thing that could stop them.



1 .) M (1931) directed by Fritz Lang

	M (1931)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Chapel Boro
  • Film Crave
  • Flick Chart
  • IMDB
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

In this classic German thriller, Hans Beckert, a serial killer who preys on children, becomes the focus of a massive Berlin police manhunt. Beckert’s heinous crimes are so repellant and disruptive to city life that he is even targeted by others in the seedy underworld network. With both cops and criminals in pursuit, the murderer soon realizes that people are on his trail, sending him into a tense, panicked attempt to escape justice.



 


The 100+ Additional Best 1930s Films



 

# Movies Directors Lists
36 42nd Street (1933) Lloyd Bacon IMDB
MUBI
37 À Nous la Liberté (1931) René Clair IMDB
MUBI
38 All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) Lewis Milestone IMDB
List Challenges
39 Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) Michael Curtiz IMDB
List Challenges
40 Bachelor Mother (1939) Garson Kanin IMDB
List Challenges
41 Boudu Saved from Drowning   Flick Chart
MUBI
42 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) Rouben Mamoulian BFI
IMDB
43 Dracula (1931)   Flick Chart
List Challenges
44 Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) Mervyn LeRoy IMDB
MUBI
45 Grand Hotel (1932) Edmund Goulding IMDB
List Challenges
46 Grand Illusion   Flick Chart
MUBI
47 Gunga Din (1939) George Stevens IMDB
List Challenges
48 La Grande Illusion (1937) Jean Renoir Chapel Boro
IMDB
49 Le Jour Se Leve (1939) Marcel Carné IMDB
MUBI
50 Le Million (1931) René Clair IMDB
MUBI
51 Libeled Lady (1936) Jack Conway IMDB
Ranker
52 Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) Frank Capra IMDB
List Challenges
53 Port of Shadows (1938) Marcel Carné Flick Chart
IMDB
54 Queen Christina (1933) Rouben Mamoulian IMDB
MUBI
55 Scarface (1932)   List Challenges
White City Cinema
56 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) William Cottrell IMDB
List Challenges
57 Stage Door (1937) Gregory La Cava IMDB
List Challenges
58 The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) William Dieterle BFI
IMDB
59 The Public Enemy (1931)   List Challenges
MUBI
60
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums
  MUBI
White City Cinema
61 The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) Fritz Lang Flick Chart
IMDB
62 The Women (1939) George Cukor IMDB
List Challenges
63 Top Hat (1935) Mark Sandrich IMDB
List Challenges
64 Topper (1937) Norman Z. McLeod IMDB
Ranker
65 Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) John Ford IMDB
White City Cinema
66 Zero For Conduct   Flick Chart
MUBI
67 ¡Que viva Mexico!   MUBI
68 A Day at the Races   Ranker
69 A Day in the Country   Flick Chart
70 A Night at the Opera   Ranker
71 A Star Is Born (1937) William A. Wellman IMDB
72 A Tale of Two Cities (1935) Jack Conway IMDB
73 After the Thin Man   Ranker
74 Alice Adams (1935) George Stevens IMDB
75 Animal Crackers   Ranker
76 Babes in Toyland   List Challenges
77 Beau Geste (1939) William A. Wellman IMDB
78 Camille   MUBI
79 Captain Blood (1935) Michael Curtiz IMDB
80 César (1936) Marcel Pagnol IMDB
81 City Girl   White City Cinema
82 Cleopatra   List Challenges
83 Comradeship (1931) Georg Wilhelm Pabst IMDB
84 Counsellor at Law (1933) William Wyler IMDB
85 David Copperfield (1935) George Cukor IMDB
86 Daybreak   Flick Chart
87 Dead End (1937) William Wyler IMDB
88 Dodge City (1939) Michael Curtiz IMDB
89 Dodsworth (1936) William Wyler IMDB
90 Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) John Ford IMDB
91 Fanny (1932) Marc Allégret IMDB
92 Fire Over England (1937) William K. Howard IMDB
93 Footlight Parade   Ranker
94 Four Daughters (1938) Michael Curtiz IMDB
95 Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)   List Challenges
96 Heidi   List Challenges
97 Horse Feathers   Ranker
98 Humanity and Paper Balloons   White City Cinema
99 I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) Mervyn LeRoy IMDB
100 I Was Born, But…   Flick Chart
101 Island of Lost Souls (1932)   BFI
102 July 14 (1933) René Clair IMDB
103 La Bête Humaine (1938) Jean Renoir IMDB
104 La chienne   MUBI
105 Lady for a Day (1933) Frank Capra IMDB
106 Les Misérables (1935) Richard Boleslawski IMDB
107 Little Women (1933) George Cukor IMDB
108 Lost Horizon (1937) Frank Capra IMDB
109 Love Affair (1939) Leo McCarey IMDB
110 Love Me Tonight (1932) Rouben Mamoulian IMDB
111 Mad Love (1935)   BFI
112 Make Way for Tomorrow   MUBI
113 Midnight   Ranker
114 Monkey Business   Ranker
115 Morning Glory (1933) Lowell Sherman IMDB
116 Mr. Thank You   White City Cinema
117 Nothing Sacred (1937) William A. Wellman IMDB
118
Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations
  MUBI
119
Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty
  MUBI
120 One Hour with You (1932) George Cukor IMDB
121 Only Angels Have Wings (1939) Howard Hawks IMDB
122 Our Neighbor, Miss Yae   White City Cinema
123 Outskirts   White City Cinema
124 People on Sunday   White City Cinema
125 Pygmalion (1938) Anthony Asquith IMDB
126 Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) Leo McCarey IMDB
127 San Francisco (1936) W.S. Van Dyke IMDB
128 Shanghai Express   MUBI
129 Sons of the Desert   Ranker
130 Stanley and Livingstone (1939) Henry King IMDB
131 Tabu: A Story of the South Seas   MUBI
132 Tarzan and His Mate (1934) Cedric Gibbons IMDB
133 Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) W.S. Van Dyke IMDB
134 The 39 Steps   MUBI
135 The Black Cat (1934)   BFI
136 The Blood of a Poet   Flick Chart
137 The Chaplin Cavalcade (1941) Charles Chaplin IMDB
138 The Eagle and the Hawk (1933) Stuart Walker IMDB
139 The Four Feathers (1939) Zoltan Korda IMDB
140 The Gay Divorcee (1934) Mark Sandrich IMDB
141 The Goddess   White City Cinema
142 The Good Earth (1937) Sidney Franklin IMDB
143 The Good Fairy (1935) William Wyler IMDB
144 The Human Beast   Flick Chart
145 The Informer (1935) John Ford IMDB
146 The Invisible Man (1933)   List Challenges
147 The Life of Emile Zola (1937) William Dieterle IMDB
148 The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935) Henry Hathaway IMDB
149 The Man in the Iron Mask (1939) James Whale IMDB
150 The Merry Widow (1934) Ernst Lubitsch IMDB
151 The Million   Flick Chart
152 The Only Son   White City Cinema
153 The Petrified Forest (1936)   List Challenges
154 The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) John Cromwell IMDB
155 The Private Life of Henry VIII Alexander Korda IMDB
156 The Roaring Twenties   White City Cinema
157 The Scarlet Pimpernel   MUBI
158 The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936) William Dieterle IMDB
159 Triumph of the Will   MUBI
160 Twentieth Century (1934) Howard Hawks IMDB
161 Under the Roofs of Paris (1930) René Clair IMDB
162 Way Out West   Ranker

 


 


10 Best 1930s Film Sources/Lists



Source Article
BFI 10 great horror films of the 1930s
Chapel Boro Top Ten Movies Of The 1930s, Part II
Film Crave Top Movies of 1930s
Film Site Greatest Films of 1930
Flick Chart The Best Foreign Language Films of the 1930s
IMDB Top 100 Movies of the 1930’s
List Challenges 1930s Movies – How many have you seen?
MUBI The 100 Best films of the 1930s
Ranker 30s Comedies | List of Funniest 1930s Movies Ranked
White City Cinema Top 25 Films of the 1930s

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