Saturday, September 29, 2012

Top 10 Best Movies of the 1940s

  The 1940s was a big deal for America.  Recovered from the Great Depression of the early 1930s, America was just getting it's groove back-on; then.. World War II.  Germany invades France in 1940 and all bets are off.  Britain is getting a spanking as we try to aid them with intense manufacture often our non-combatant merchant-marines getting their arses handed to them by the German Wolfpack submariners in the North Atlantic.  We engage Hitler and America hunkers-down, and the Selective Service "draft" starts in 1941.  Ten million men are forced to join the military.  Imagine that now?  That was, at the time, about 10% of the population, and just about every male from age 21 to 35, though some were taken-in at age 15 or 16.  Dire times as the Axis War Machine ate-up Europe and was succeeding in World Domination.  Non-Aryans were incinerated alive in camps.  America was not the SuperPower we know of the late 1980s.  No, sir.  As a nation, we were young teens trying to figure out Life.  We had sub-par boats, planes, and guns.  Britain was pretty badass at the time, and the only other decent ally Superpower, France, just had their noses rubbed in it with minimal effort.  France, at the time, was pretty powerful.

  During this time in Hollywood, movies were full-day affairs, often having several reels instead of just the one main feature film.  There'd be a News Reel that'd show current events as television had just become a consumer product and was ridiculously expensive with only 2 channels available.  Radio was King with a handful of AM channels in each region.  Some towns didn't even GET radio waves yet!!!  Often, people would get their news from newspapers or the News Reel.  There was also a Cartoon Reel.  This was usually Bugs Bunny or some other Warner Brothers release.  Those cartoons you saw growing up of Bugs?  Those were usually related to the film attached as a joke-prequel, often involving a similar plot to the main feature you were about to see or saw last week.  Yep.  Most cartoons were film-only up until the late 1950s when some of those actually made it to TV.  At this point, the then-very-important projectionist would change-out seamlessly short 5 or 10 minute film reels.  There's also be another "Short" or "Short Reel" of usually some comedy such as the Three Stooges and then the Main Feature Reel.  Movie-going often cost about 25 cents, but the average weekly salary was $35.  A brand new house cost about $5000 or 4 years' pay which is about twice the cost from today in-relation. 
  Times were tough and people hunkered-down hard.  Women had to know how to cook with flour, yeast, eggs.  Meat was scarce, and commodity rationing was enforced by the Government.  You couldn't get certain items without rationing stamps due the War effort and its production, and even then, you might not have enough and might have to save-up for a roast or some hamburger for a few weeks.  Yeah, you couldn't just get food, or tires, or whatever.  Nope.  Not allowed.  Imagine that NOW!!!!  Tough times, kids.  Forget about getting coffee.  No, you don't have enough stamps for this week.  No coffee this week.. or meat of any kind.  Not allowed.  NOT ALLOWED!!! .. and America embraced it, hunkered-down, barely grumbled, and fought the good fight.. and with our sacrifice, the World was saved from Nazi tyranny and the cruel, cruel Japanese murderers who would torture us without mercy as we encamped Jap-Americans in our own concentration camps!.. and the Nazis were 1 year away from nukes and had their children age 10 to 14 flying jet-fighters and they had War Computers and we had just invented Cheerios.  Seriously, it's amazing we aren't all speaking German.
  V for Victory, kids!  This leads me to the...
Top 10 Best Movies of the 1940s
1. Citizen Kane (1941)
  Most people have heard of this film, few have seen it.  What sets this film apart is the amazing camera angles and set the stage for larger-than-life filmography that you might have seen attempted in the first episode of Star Trek: Next Generation, that is, the episode "Encounter at Farpoint".  Cameras would be place down on the floor to make people look very very tall.  Large, symbolic scenes constantly.  The more current movie, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow borrows from it, and I'd even put this film into the "film noir" category.  Filming techniques were unheard of and incredibly clever for its time, possibly better than any other film in current history.  Amazing stuff.
  Story's about a poverty-stricken man from Colorado who climbs his way up the political ladder to become the wealthiest, most powerful man in America.  On his dying bed, he mutters, "Rosebud" and you try to figure out who she might be throughout.  I won't give it away.  It's poignant.
  Sort of a bit of a Scarface vibe.  Definitely worth a watch solely for the expert filmography copied later in comic books and other films.  This movie set-off Orson Welles to be one of the most powerful actors in history through into the late 1980s.  If you study or admire film, this is a must-watch for camera-play, lighting, and sound for which all other films since are based.  I'm not kidding, it's that good.  No other movie since has achieved this effect so skillfully.  Directors dream of it.
2. Dark Passage (1947)
  I adore this film.  Humphery Bogart was King in the theaters during the 1940s.  Sure, I could have put the ubiqtuious, Cassablanca or The Maltese Falcon, two of his best perhaps, or even Treasure of Siera Madre.  These were classics, sure, and I give them each honorable mention, particularly Maltese Falcon, but this film played-out a little better. 
  It starts out gonzo, POV-style of an escaped Alcatraz convict and he strangles a man just on the shore for a "killer's point-of-view".  You only see his hands, making you the killer.  Wow.  Lauren Bacall is a fan of the murderer and helps him hide-away in the same way Harley Quinn loves The Joker.  Like the Joker, he also gets plastic reconstruction to hide-out from the law.  Of course, he tries to claim innocence of his crimes and kill those that framed him.
  This is true film-noir material, playing with shadows only John Carpenter could appreciate fully.  Lauren plays sultry at age 23 to Humphrey's 47 she loves his murder-style and history.  Eventually, the two get married in real-life!  Interestingly, he dies 10 years later at an unusal age of 57.
  The characters ooze of seduction, danger, and intrigue, and Lauren was the epitome of the sultry brunette of the 1940s, even more so than Betty Paige.  SHE was THE bad-girl of the time, with just a hint of inner meekness, hidden.  Humphey always played-out the true badass of his time.
  This is probably one of three true film-noir films to watch.  Rotten Tomatoes give it a 91% fresh which is astoundingly good for such critics.  I loved it.

3. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
  This is where Universal's top monsters are all together in a monster-fest deluxe against comedic geniuses Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.  This matching-up of such proportions was insane.  You've got the original Dracula played by Bela Lugosi, Frankenstein, the Wolfman (from Wolfman (1941)) as the original Wolfman and VINCENT PRICE as the Invisible Man!!! 
This is pretty badass for it's time.  Enough of a comedic release with Abbott and Costello and just enough terror to the extreme of the monsters that actually made people pass-out from the late 1930s.  Brilliant idea.
 Dracula controls Frankenstein's Monster, but is unable to stop Wolfman's rage and epic battles ensue.  Freakin' Awesome!  It's like a modern Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash.  All of the characters play perfectly as themselves.  It's a Monster-Fest-for all!
  Lou Costello tries to mind-control Frankenstien by lampooning Dracula as a last-ditch effort.  It doesn't work.  Scary and hillarious at the same time.  Nicely done.
4. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  I can't not put this film in-place.  It's a Christmas staple even today.  Often overplayed to sickness, it's still, by itself as a single watch, truly a good film.  Jimmy Stewart plays a command performance here of a banker with good intentions and an angel who tries to save him.  It plays on the good nature will of every American's core, and yeah, it's worth a watch despite the overplaying.  Watch it once for the acting and call it a day.
  If a movie is played constantly on Christmas for 30 years, it's probably a decent film, no?  Yep.
5. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  Based on the novel by John Steinbeck written a year earlier is an example of a movie "too soon" as it focuses on the Great Dustbowl and the Great Depression that occurred about 8 years prior.
  Jimmy Stewart was doing well in the 1940s and this film is intense as it is heavy.  A priest gets out of prison loses his faith and walks back home after serving his sentence only to find a crossroads and pure duststorm hell.  When I first watched this, I thought the priest had been executed and he was in purgatory or hell itself, punished for his sins!
  Turns out a drought had killed-off all the crops and the locals were starving, with only a vague promise of crop-picking in California as a distant longshot dream to shoot for, they all head West.
  A lot of films are based on this amazing story of doom, such as An American Tail (1986) and South Park parodied it well and aptly.
  The movie is very true-to-life and there's symbolism everywhere, such as the road to a false promise is Route 66 (the 3rd six is omitted for your consideration).  Well done and worth a watch for sure.
6. The Big Sleep (1946)
  Bogey and Bacall again.  A wealthy general wants to resolve gambling debts incurred by his daughter to stay the mob.  Known for its plot twists and complications it's been recommended by the Library of Congress as in the top 10 most important films in history.
  Murder erupts and crimes must be solved as it plays-out the vital criminal investigation of several murders.  Watch it.  Yeah, it's good.
7. The Great Dictator (1940)
  Ho boy.  Charlie Chaplin wrote, produced, and starred in this one, and is one of his first talking films, though it it to be noted that even during "talkies" his silent films were still blockbusting the theaters despite itself. 
  This film was produced when America was still at peace with Germany  (barely).  Very edgy for its time to lampoon Hitler, there are some comedic and not-so comedic scenes that are quite shocking. 
The UK would not show it in fear of Nazi Germany's potential retaliation (sound familiar to today's standard?).  Later, however, during the war, the UK used it as a propaganda film.  This movie was wildly popular in the US, however, because before Obama's Apologetic Presidency we then "didn't give a shit" and weren't so pussy about things in cowardice, Obama ruining that utterly, making America weak like a gay mouse-bitch which now other countries manipulate.  Not back then though!  We had balls back then!   Hitler was unimpressed, needless to say.

  The film did well, and some interesting points were made, as well as some nice symbolism in the famous "globe" scene, shown above.  Acting was great, and amazingly so considering the silent-film cast now in speaking roles (a difficult transition few silent-film actors survived).  A Criterion Edition (2011) on BluRay was recently released.  The film does a great job focusing on Nazi politics of the time and the contradictions therein.  Great film!
8. Heaven Can Wait (1943)
  A wealthy man dies in the and has to prove he belongs in hell by telling the tale of his evil life in the late 19th century.  A bit of a period piece with great costumes and won several awards.  Satan himself decides if he is worthy of eternal fire.  Edgy for it's backwards tale and debauchery and villainy, it's worth a watch for sure.  This is not to be confused with the 1978 eponymous film which is quite different indeed.
9. Notorious (1946)
  One of Alfred Hitchock's best films about a love affair with a daughter of a Nazi infiltrator, a love story where Cary Grant gets involved with Ingrid Bergman in espionage and intrigue. 
  The filmography is amazing.  Let me quote Wiki on this one, "The film is known for two scenes in particular. In one of his most famous shots, Hitchcock starts wide and high on a second floor balcony overlooking the great hall of a grand mansion. Slowly he tracks down and in on Ingrid Bergman, finally ending with a tight close-up of a key tucked in her hand. So arresting is the shot that an outline of the key became a graphic element in the film's promotional material. Hitchcock also devised "a celebrated scene" that circumvented the Production Code's ban on kisses longer than three seconds—by having his actors disengage every three seconds, murmur and nuzzle each other, then start right back up again. The two-and-a-half minute osculation is "perhaps his most intimate and erotic kiss."
 Interestingly, the film is quite edgy for the fact that Nazi-phobia was still rampant in the US.  The concept and intrigue of espionage of such is quite impressive.  Honestly, I haven't seen the film, but accessing '40s experts this is one of THE films to see, and I trust my sources.  I have it in my Netflix queue right now.
10.  White Heat
   A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn for the worse.
  James Cagney plays the gangster again in this one, often popularized as "Muggsy" in Warner Brothers cartoons.  Another "film noir" flick.  This movie plays on the criminal mind's psyche and workings, focusing on motive, robbery, and decisions between good versus evil.  On my queue, I hear it ends with a world-famous shootout.  These 1940s gangster movies were super awesome of which all others now-a-days were based!   Can't wait to see it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top 10 Best Movies of the 1930s

Top 10 Movies of the Decade INTRODUCTION

  Welcome!  This is the beginning of my top 10 list for movies, decade-for-decade, starting with the 1930s.  There's been a lot of Debbie-Downer posts lately and so this should lighten the mood a bit.  A lot of guys I know clamshell-themselves-up and only watch movies from 2003 to present, or certainly nothing earlier than before they were born.  Now, I work with a lot of guys under 30 at my current space-mercenary assignment so I'm subjected to childish closed-mindedness to an amazing level, but I think I got through to a few of the more "free thinking" society folks and they took a plunge recently to my delight.  I love it that people can open their minds from the egocentric world they unbelong.  There's more to cinematography than House at the End of the Street (2012).

  My list is not all-encompassing, and it's open to speculation and debate.  I'm sure I'll leave out quite a few, either by accident or opinion, but this is more of a list of consideration, not a list of pure fact, and they're listed in no particular order.  These are invariably almost all American films.  I don't ignore that there are great foreign films out there, such as Akira Kurosawa.  This is a focus on HOLLYWOOD.

  Now, there's a lot of movies that are B-graded that are ironically great, and a lot of great animation films as well, but I'm going to bypass those until the very end, as they deserve their own segment, truly.  You can't put Evil Dead 2 or Heavy Metal along with other amazing films because they're so estranged from standard film.  I'm also avoiding adult films that have made millions and have huge cult-status and ground-breaking popularity such as Behind the Green Door or Pirates! because, well, for one, this is a family blog (sort of) and well, again, the genre is not appropriate for this list. 

  We start with the 1930s.  I could have started with the 1910s or 1920s but these films are often silent and hard to come-by for the average viewer.  The intent is to inspire you, the sharp-witted reader to consider and watch them on your own.  I recommend Netflix or a really hip, cool, video store.  I've been to a few that only have good movies, such as one on 8th Street in Colorado Springs, CO.  They only had good movies that spanned from the 1920s onward; often things you wouldn't know about but were definitely always 4 out of 5 stars or better.

  It's hard for me to avoid the earlier greats, these pioneers of film pre-1930.  Silent films were a big deal, and often shown to accompaniment of a live piano player who played-along while watching the film for effect, or even an actual, full, live band (amazingly for each showing of the film) since audio in film didn't exist yet.  Such examples I sadly have to ignore but are really worth a watch are, Metropolis (1927), The Iron Mask (1929), Nanook of the North (1922), Nosferatu (1922), anything by Buster Keaton or Charlie Chapman, who are brilliant by the way, The Jazz Singer, It, (both 1927), anything by the Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy, Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) [the best version by the way], and even the original Phantom of the Opera (1925) [not that faggoty 1986, Andy Webber crap].  I could go on for days.  The exploration of pre-1930s films dizzies the mind for there's some HUGE accomplishments back then, and the list goes into the thousands.  IMDB can be your friend here, and I recommend a look at this link:  If you're a true film-buff, historically it's very intense and worth a watch.  I suspect you already are if you're reading this very blog!  There's some great treasures to be found in this rare age.  So with nod to the greatness of those, allow me to be your sommelier!  We begin with..

Top 10 Best Movies of the 1930s

1. Gone with the Wind (1939)

   I love movies of this time, often with spanning scenes and sub-portions of Entrance and Intermissions where the viewer "enters" the theater to music, and takes a break to again, amazing music to stretch, get a smoke, and make a restroom break.  It's almost a shame to leave the film because of the great music played during this time.  Strangely, Star Trek: The Motion Picture had the audacity to actually have an Entrance and, well, I found that a bit pretentious.  Still, this movie has it all, the true cinema experience, even with an Overture section!

  Gone with the Wind is a love story set to the backdrop of the Civil War, often mirroring the destruction and re-evolution of the South along with the main character, Scarlet, played by Vivien Leigh.  It's a good flick and worth a watch.  A lot of people thought Scarlet was a bitch, but you have to remember she was a pampered and hyper-adored 16-year-old girl with a very wealthy father in the South.  All she knew was adoration and praise at the beginning.  By the end of it, she finds strength in herself and grows up.  If you ever met a 16-year-old spoiled rich girl, wide-eyed and happy she's goddess of her realm for no darn reason it makes sense. 

  The movie is sprawling and HUGE.  Giant, long-shots of battlement scenes and amazing backdrops.

  It's important to note is historical significance.  It did amazingly well for its time, and profanity was first uttered in this film, the scary word, "damn".

 At its time, very edgy, and banned in a few places because of it.  It played for over 2 years non-stop, sometimes longer in places, and 1/3rd of America's population watched it at least once, and and three times the going ticket price.  Great costumes, music, and good acting.

2. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

  I could talk a lot about this film, that it did rather poorly at the beginning, that there's symbolic references of the characters, that there's deleted scenes, that there's Pink Floyd references with it, as well as urban legends.  I need not.  It's all cult-status now, and currently, everyone knows about all the secrets for the most part, as well as the story. 
  Judy Garland did a fine job, and some of her songs became stuff of legend after-the-fact due to TV-movie releases for the holidays.  The play of sepia-tone to color was a big deal in 1939 as well. 

  There's an emotionally charged reprise of "Over the Rainbow" a lot of people don't know about that was too heavy for listeners and removed.  It occurs right after the Witch imprisons her and tells her she's going to kill her and her friends which was a deleted scene.  Her version is, again, the end of the age-of-innocence, a lot like the slower evolution of Scarlet in Gone with the Wind.

   It's a good example of what America will soon face in the 1940s.  An end of innocence for America as well.  I found the moral of the story a bit lacking, that you shouldn't explore the world or it'll eat you, only to be happy where you're at and, as Dorothy says, "Never leave her backyard again."  Frightening sentiment, and I dare one to be bold, as I disagree.  Still, amazing work here, and in itself, very bold and interesting.  There's earlier versions of the story, "The Wizard of Oz" I've watched but none are as gripping.

  To me, it's a cold realization that her flights of fancy and whimsy lead to the death of everyone she cared about because of her irresponsibility.  The Witch also concludes that she'll find her mother and kill her too, that she'll find a pathway to get to Kansas to murder her.  Dorothy tries the door, bangs on it in desperation as the Witch just locked it.  At the end, the director is moved and says, "..that was awesome."  I don't know where Judy got the emotional source from, but when someone can truly pull emotion from some hidden, darker place in their soul, it's amazing. Omitted, I leave it here for you to consider.  I dare you not to bust-out into tears.


Well played, Miss Garland
3.  Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
  Again with the Clark Gable, this version of the classic is a bit more fun than the 1916 Australian version or the 1933 version starring Errol Flynn.  Yeah, it's in black-and-white but receives better resolution than color films at the time.  The 1962 version starring Marlon Brando is a bit more famous, but it's a classic tale of a ship captain with too harsh rules making men mutiny on the ship the HMS Bounty near Tahiti. 
  Not particularly historically accurate, it's still a great telling of the fateful month in 1789 of the sailors that preferred the idyllic life on Tahiti to Britain's harsh rule, suggesting that back-to-basics is better than England and Society's path is not the best one despite technological advancements.  A good watch.  You know what?  I haven't seen it yet!  Not this version anyway, but I'm gonna.
4.  The Adventures of Robin Hood (1939)
  Errol Flynn personified the swashbuckler of his day.  He was one of the original action-heroes for the kids those days, and Robin Hood was being played-out over cowboys-and-Indians once this film came out, as well as a huge sale of bows, arrows, and pointy hats, as well as the fencing foil. 
  It doubled its money which was very good for its time.  The sword fighting is legit, and the arrow twaining-the-first in the bullseye-scene is the only legitimate one ever accomplished to this date.  No trickery here, the arrow is actually SPLIT legitimately!  (sorry Brave (2012)).  It captures the good-versus-evil nicely.  This film inspired a thousand spoof-films such as Men in Tights by Mel Brooks as well as the costuming.  Wildly popular, America embraced it whole-hartedly.  Parody aside, it's a very good film.  Only good films generally get parodied.  Everyone loves the underdog.  This version thankfully does not complete the entire tale of Robin Hood who's ending is grim, just the badass, cool parts that everyone likes. 
 Errol's horse was so admired and so skilled, he later became the famous, Trigger of Roy Roger fame, though Roy changed the name from "Golden Cloud" as he bought the horse for an astounding fee.  So you get Errol Flynn, Trigger, awesome sword battles and legit bow-and-arrowing.  It's good all around, AND it's in color which was a new 3-color technique at the time.  Very good, and no CGI!
5.  Dracula (1931)
  Bela Lugosi's masterpiece in acting.  Dracula personified the horror genre as one of Universal Studio's best "monster" themed films.  This is the penultimate vampire flick that spawned hundreds of others (aside from the more cult-y Nosferatu).  Unlike a few previous horror films such as Cat and the Canary (1927), this film did not let the viewer off-the-hood with a downplay of false-supernaturalism or comic relief.  No, sir.  This was the real-deal.  Audience members fainted in shock during the release.  America was not ready for this level of horror. 
  This movie inspired a lot more horror films by Universal Studios due to its success and was a bit of a sigh-of-relief due to the out-on-a-limb attempt at such a genre.  There's a lot of non-dialogue during this film to add suspense.  Some of the special-effects, such as the shapeshifted bat-form are a bit low-budget but bat-wranglers were hard to come by, so some suspension-of-disbelief is required for that.  Still, it's an American classic and it's good to see horror origins. 
  Without this film, the horror genre might not exist even to this day.  There are some deleted scenes that were too edgy that are lost, particularly an epilogue that is supposedly very, very grim.
6.  Frankenstein (1931) & Bride of Frankenstein (1935) 
  I put both of these movies together because they're both very relevant to each other and are about equal in quality and scope in the same way the Star Wars trilogy is similar.  Sure, I could have put Dracula's sequel, Daughter of Dracula in there as well, but these two are probably the closest than any other movie of that time.
  Boris Karloff's performance as Frankenstein's Monster is brilliant (yeah, I know Frankenstein was the scientist).  It's the quintessential Frakenstein movie.  All others pale in comparison.  Parodies ensue, but this is the real-deal.  Edward van Sloan gives a friendly "warning" before the movie starts so as the audience members wouldn't faint so badly, but it also gives a level of intensity when you're "warned" about a film.  Nicely done.  During the opening credits, Boris Karlof's name is not listed, only as a "?" being the "monster" as a nod to the fact that Frankenstein's creation had no name (and arguably no soul).   Interestingly, everyone knows about this film.  It had a deeper impact than Dracula (1931) did to the audience, and when interviewed at-random, members laughed nervously and were shuddering.  The movie had no soundtrack save the end-credits, which gave more suspense and was very unusual for its time.
  Bride did incredibly well as a sequel, making over $2M and was wildly popular.  It had a lot of hidden Christian imagry in it as well.  One should watch both back-to-back for effect.
7.  The Mummy (1932)

  The last of my "horror" themed films of this decade, The Mummy's, Boris Karloff was on the top of his game in the 1930s with his penetrating gaze of expressive eyes and empty, grim face.  It took an unheard-of 8 hours to apply the makeup and another 2 to remove it.  Originally titled, Imhotep based on the Egyptian mummy, the film did incredibly well as mummies were wildly popular around this time.  Insanely popular.  Like, iTunes popular, perhaps more-so.  The opening music is cleverly the same as Dracula (1931).  It's a story of Imhotep who was mummified alive, and, as a mummy is discovered by archeologists.  Imhotep sees a woman who reminds him of his princess and attempts to mummify her so he can give her immortality as well to live forever.  She does not care for this, however, to be mummified alive.  Mummies have incredible strength in mythos and are undead.  Makes for a good, striking film and has several sequels.  I decided not to include The Invisible Man or Dr. Jeckly and Mr. Hyde, but I give those honorable mention.
8. All's Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
  Another film I haven't seen but should.  Hitler banned it during WWII in Germany for it's anti-war, and anti-German theme.  A young soldier is disillusioned from war during World War I.  It's interesting because it follows the enemy's point-of-view during the Great War, particularly of an enlisted one, which is far more interesting and action-y than an officer's dull existence of personnel management.  This movie sounds like it'd be similar to Das Boot (1981). 
I'm excited to watch it.  It's pretty grim, though, focusing on intraflection on chemical-warfare and unfair combat and cruelty.  A lot of kids are eager to join the Service these days, but few realize how intense it really is, and the dark side of Mankind often shows; something Call of Duty can't relay.
9. Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
  James Cagney and Humphry Bogart (gets no top-billing as his early work he's still not that famous plays as a crooked lawyer to justify James' theme) star in a gangster movie that was quite poignant for its time.  Two kids rob a railroad car as kids grow up on separate paths, one becoming a gangster and one a priest.  This is replayed well in a later western, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly by the way.  Both try to convince an orphanage of kids which path to take.  James plays the gangster and gets the kids to believe that the government is corrupt and that the mob is more "good" where Pat O'Brien as the priest explains the opposite. 
  Quite a gripping tale of two brothers and their view on good and evil.  It brings up the question of what is evil anyway?  The poster of James holding a gun to the priest is particularly amazing and drew quite a crowd, and has been rated as the US Film Institutes's current Top 10 Gangster Films of All Time.  Seen it, and yeah, it's good, even by today's standards.
10.  The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
  It's difficult to pick a final film.  There's so many genre, so many great films out there of this decade.  I'm sure I missed dozens, from Heidi to Animal Crackers, Tarzan, et al. from Alfred Hitchcock and Laurel and Hardy.  Still, there are amazing films in this decade.  It'd take years to watch them all.  It's nice to know this decade has so much to offer, and I strongly recommend checking out IMDB to watch them in order of popularity.
  I end my list with Arty Doyle's adaptation of Hound of the Baskervilles.  It's a Sherlock Holmes adventure story from a book of the same name written in 1901 to 1902 as a newspaper serial story. 
  Arguably, Basil Rathbone is the absolute quintessential Sherlock Holmes of Sherlock Holmes.  I belive I'm an expert in this fact that I've seen a LOT of Sherlock adaptations.  WAY too many, in fact, to probably ever get a date (luckily, I married a sci-fi girl so I'm good).  Not so pulp-fiction as Downey Jr. of late, or other "BBC America" twist-angled versions, the interaction of him and Nigel Bruce as Watson is amazing.  Never before have I seen such personality in film between both characters.  Nigel makes sure the acting is not stiff and the flow is incredibly good.  So good, in fact, FOURTEEN films are made using this pair.  It's a witty horror film.  Arguably, Doyle's best work in the Holme's series, the story builds suspense to a crescendo as Sherlock's most difficult case ever.  This film is actually better than the 1959 adaptation staring Star Wars' "Grand Moff Tarkin" as Holmes aka Peter Cushing.  You won't get bored with it, as a lot of folks roll their eyes to "Sherlock Holmes".  I do, in fact.  I find it droll and boring as all heck, normally.  Basil and Nigel make it worth the watch of all fourteen movies which span into the 1940s, my next segment!
  Thanks for reading.  Again, I'm sure I missed a few.  Feel free to comment anonymously or otherwise for honorable mention.  Blondie was not mentioned because that gets a place in the '40s.  ;)  Gotta love Penny Singleton!  But.. what will I pick for the 40s?  You'll have to wait and see! 
Happy viewing, cinemaphiles!