The 30s were the Hollywood 'golden age' of the big studio star system, the all-singing all-dancing musicals, the first great horror movies and, conversely, Disney. These and a still-strong European cinema makes a top 15 a hard choice, but here goes:
- The Blue Angel (von Sternberg, 1930)
- L'Age d'Or (Bunuel, 1930)
- Frankenstein (Whale, 1931)
- City Lights (Chaplin, 1931)
- M (Lang, 1931)
- Freaks (Browning, 1932)
- King Kong (Cooper & Schoedsack, 1933)
- The Goddess (Wu, 1934)
- The 39 Steps (Hitchcock, 1935)
- Things to Come (Cameron Menzies, 1936)
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Disney, 1937) - La Bete Humaine (Renoir, 1938) - The Adventures of Robin Hood (Curtiz, 1938) - Goodbye Mr Chips (Wood, 1939) - The Wizard of Oz (Fleming, 1939)
I probably first watched most of these on TV - Wizard of Oz, Goodbye Nr Chips, 39 Steps, Robin Hood etc on Sunday afternoons, The Blue Angel, M, Frankensteinetc late at night... but the arty ones would have been at Brighton's Duke of York or London Scala in fabulous double (or even triple) bills.
OK, the two weirdest ones first: L'Age d'Or must have been seriously shocking at the time, was certainly strange when I first saw it, but now seems quaintly 'avant garde'. But Freaks is just amazing and still shocks. I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking, is this real?? The rest are all fairly obvious, and don't need elaboration.
Could have gone for some (or all) of the big studio musicals like Busby Berkley's 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933 and Footlight Parade) or Leonard's The Great Ziegfeld ,or any Fred & Ginger title. Never could get into the Marx Brothers. Also just missing out is John Wayne in the first great Western, Stagecoach, Bette Davis in Jezebel and Korda's The Private Life of Henry VIII... as well as Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, Renoir's La Grande Illusion, Jean Vigo's L'Atalante and Cocteau's The Blood of a Poet.