1930s

Lost Horizon (1937)

There is a fragility to the precision of Frank Capra’s visual and narrative creations in Lost Horizon, establishing an order in the Eastern utopia of Shangri-La that is threatened by the arrival of cynical British expats, powerfully backing up this grand moral fable with potent mythological archetypes of paradise, innocence, and corruption.

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Scarface (1932)

Within the Prohibition era that Scarface is set, where a coward like Tony Camonte can reign supreme, violence is conducted with secrecy and treachery, intermittently rupturing Howard Hawk’s patient, brooding narrative with bursts of brutality and cutting right to the menacing heart of the gangster genre.

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Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

James Whale steps up the subtext, camp theatrics, and Gothic aesthetic in his sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, delivering not just a lynchpin of horror cinema, but a piece of film that feels even truer to his own humanistic and dramatic sensibilities.

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Le Jour se Leve (1939)

As a man driven to murder reminisces on the sequence of events that has led to this moment, Marcel Carne constructs a bitterly nostalgic narrative through masterful tracking shots and expressionist lighting, turning Le Jour se Leve into an indelibly moving portrait of France’s lost innocence as it heads into World War II.

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Ninotchka (1939)

It takes a director as known for his sophisticated “touch” as Ernst Lubitsch to smoothly integrate Greta Garbo’s brilliantly blunt deadpan into such an elegantly blossoming romance, thereby creating one of the great comedic characters of the 1930s in Ninotchka.

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Wuthering Heights (1939)

With a rigorous dedication to turning the Gothic architecture of Wuthering Heights into its own eerie character, William Wyler cuts right to the heart of Emily Brontë’s classic novel, submerging his tragic paramours in a ghostly melancholy that haunts them through life and death.

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