Josef von Sternberg
1934 • 104 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #109 Edition: DVD
Filmmaker-svengali Josef von Sternberg escalates his obsession with screen legend Marlene Dietrich in this lavish depiction of sex and deceit in the eighteenth-century Russian court, a self-proclaimed “relentless excursion into style.”
1934 • 105 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #736 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
It Happened One Night is among the most gracefully constructed and edited films of the early sound era, packed with clever situations and gags that have entered the Hollywood comedy pantheon.
1934 • 75 minutes • 1.33:1 • United Kingdom
Spine: #643 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, iTunes
This fleet and gripping film is the first of the early thrillers the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, made during the fertile phase of his career spent at the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation.
1935 • 86 minutes • 1.33:1 • United Kingdom
Spine: #56 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets, iTunes
A heart-racing spy story by Alfred Hitchcock, The 39 Steps follows Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) as he stumbles upon a conspiracy that thrusts him into a hectic chase across the Scottish moors.
Gregory La Cava
1936 • 93 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #114 Edition: DVD
The definitive screwball comedy, My Man Godfrey follows the madcap antics of a wealthy and eccentric family when they hire a down-and-out “forgotten man” as their butler.
1936 • 41 minutes • 1.37:1 • France
Spine: #746 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, iTunes
This bittersweet film from Jean Renoir, based on a story by Guy de Maupassant, is a tenderly comic idyll about a city family’s picnic in the French countryside and the romancing of the mother and grown daughter by two local men.
1936 • 87 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #543 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin’s last outing as the Little Tramp, puts the iconic character to work as a giddily inept factory employee who becomes smitten with a gorgeous gamine (Paulette Goddard).
William Cameron Menzies
1936 • 97 minutes • 1.37:1 • United Kingdom
Spine: #660 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus
A landmark collaboration between writer H. G. Wells, producer Alexander Korda, and designer and director William Cameron Menzies, Things to Come is a science fiction film like no other, a prescient political work that predicts a century of turmoil and progress.
1937 • 114 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #1 Editions: DVD, Collector’s Sets
Jean Renoir’s antiwar masterpiece Grand Illusion, hailed as one of the greatest films ever made, stars Jean Gabin and Pierre Fresnay as French soldiers held in a World War I German prison camp.
1937 • 94 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #172 Editions: DVD, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus
Pépé le moko is a wanted man: women long for him, rivals hope to destroy him, and the law is breathing down his neck at every turn. On the lam, Pépé is safe from the clutches of the police, until a Parisian playgirl compels him to risk his life. Pépé le moko is a landmark of poetic realism.
1937 • 92 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #505 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
Make Way for Tomorrow, by Leo McCarey, is one of the great unsung Hollywood masterpieces, an enormously moving Depression-era depiction of the frustrations of family, aging, and the generation gap.
1938 • 96 minutes • 1.33:1 • United Kingdom
Spine: #3 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets, iTunes
In Alfred Hitchcock’s most quick-witted and devilish comic thriller, a young woman finds herself drawn into a complex web of mystery and high adventure while traveling across Europe by train. The Lady Vanishes remains one of the master filmmaker’s purest delights.
Cranky Professor Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard) takes a bet that he can turn Cockney guttersnipe Eliza Doolittle (Wendy Hiller) into a “proper lady” in a mere six months in this delightful comedy of bad manners, based on the play by George Bernard Shaw.
1938 • 96 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #324 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus
Based on the classic Emile Zola novel, Jean Renoir’s La bête humaine, a suspenseful journey into the tormented psyche of a workingman, was one of the director’s greatest popular successes—and earned star Jean Gabin a permanent place in the hearts of his countrymen.
1938 • 90 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #245 Edition: DVD
Jean Gabin stars as an army deserter looking for another chance to make good on life in Marcel Carné’s stark portrayal of an underworld of lonely souls wrestling with their own destinies. Port of Shadows is a quintessential example of poetic realism from the golden age of French cinema.
1939 • 106 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #216 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Considered one of the greatest films ever made, The Rules of the Game (La règle du jeu), by Jean Renoir, is a scathing critique of corrupt French society cloaked in a comedy of manners.
1939 • 100 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #320 Edition: DVD
In John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln, Henry Fonda gives one of the finest performances of his career, as the young president-to-be, struggling with an incendiary murder case as a novice lawyer. Compassionate and assured, this is an indelible piece of Americana.
1939 • 96 minutes • 1.37:1 • United States
Spine: #516 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, iTunes
This is where it all started. John Ford’s smash hit and enduring masterpiece Stagecoach revolutionized the western, elevating it from B movie to the A-list.
1939 • 91 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #559 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, iTunes
The legendary Gilbert and Sullivan troupe the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company joined forces with Hollywood for this 1939 Technicolor version of the beloved comic opera The Mikado, the first work by the famed duo to be adapted for the screen.
1939 • 115 minutes • 1.37:1 • United Kingdom
Spine: #583 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, iTunes
This Technicolor spectacular, directed by Zoltán Korda, is considered the finest of the many adaptations of A. E. W. Mason’s classic 1902 adventure novel about the British empire’s exploits in Africa, and a crowning achievement of Alexander Korda’s legendary production company, London Films.
Prince Ahmad, cast out of Bagdad by the nefarious Jaffar, joins forces with the scrappy thief Abu to win back his royal place and the heart of a princess in Alexander Korda’s The Thief of Bagdad, an eye-popping special-effects pioneer and one of the most spectacular fantasy films ever made.
1940 • 72 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #78 Edition: DVD
W.C. Fields stars as an unemployed, henpecked drunk who spends most of his time at the Black Pussy Cat café. Things take a turn for the absurd when he unwittingly captures a bank robber and lands a job as a security guard.
1940 • 130 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #135 Editions: DVD, Collector’s Sets
In Hitchcock’s romantic, suspenseful, elegant film, a young woman believes her every dream has come true when her whirlwind romance with the dashing Maxim de Winter culminates in marriage. But she soon realizes that Rebecca, her husband’s late first wife, haunts the de Winter mansion, Manderley.
1940 • 90 minutes • 1.33:1 • United Kingdom
Spine: #523 Edition: DVD
This captivating, long-overlooked adventure—with a clever screenplay by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, best known for writing Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes—is a deftly concocted spy game that could give the master of suspense a run for his money.
1940 • 125 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #565 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, iTunes
In his controversial masterpiece The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin offers both a cutting caricature of Adolf Hitler and a sly tweaking of his own comic persona.