1930/31 in Review


Nominees that didn’t make it:
N/A. East Lynne-release it, UCLA
4. Trader Horn-racist snuff film
3. Cimarron-peaks very quickly
2. Skippy-children annoy me

For Twitter length reviews click here

33. The Skin Game
Hugely dull, Hitchcock’s basically playing hack here.
Favorite Moment: Auction.
32. Mary
Probably better than Murder! but I speak English and this is in German, so I can’t be bothered to judge performances.
Favorite Moment: Expressionist title cards.
31. Laughter
Story of a threesome of sorts is subversive and risky, but seems awfully quaint today.
Favorite Moment: “Who’s Ralph? Is he good looking?”
30. Smart Money
For Cagney/Robinson fans, this is catnap. For someone who liked Little Caesar and Public Enemy just fine, it’s pleasant.
Favorite Moment: The final scene.
29. Murder!
What the hell kind of name is Edna Druce? Some isolated good bits.
Favorite Moment: Backstage of the theater.
28. Woman in the Moon
I found this an easier sit than Dr. Mabuse the Gambler and Spione for some reason, but there’s still so much time spent on the setup for the mission.
Favorite Moment: The exploding title card.
27. The Public Enemy
Pure boilerplate with a great Cagney performance that justifies its iconic reputation.
Favorite Moment: Grapefruit for breakfast.
26. Other Men’s Women
Astor’s analysis of it as a piece of cheese feels pretty accurate. Blondell and Cagney were better. Still a fun watch.
Favorite Moment: The train collision.
25. Little Caesar
Watch The Public Enemy as a film, watch this for the better leading man performance.
Favorite Moment: Our introduction to the gang.
24. The Devil to Pay
Very witty film that passes the time easily, but it’s no The Thin Man.
Favorite Moment: Buying the dog.
23. Storm Over Asia
I think Pudovkin is just too difficult for me, but this is really fucking pretty anyway.
Favorite Moment: The final deranged montage.
22. Holiday
The ensemble is fantastic and the broad strokes are great, but I think the consensus skewing towards the remake will turn out to be accurate if the camerawork improves.
Favorite Moment: The description of the various jobs.
21. Animal Crackers
Some moments are brilliant (the recap of the trip to Africa, the card counting act), but so many are utterly banal (romances are not necessary).
Favorite Moment: The trip to Africa recap.

For my Top 20 of 1930/31 click here.

BEST ACTING (Finalists in bold)
Nominees that didn’t make it (Actor):
5. Richard Dix, Cimarron-an awful, loud ham
4. Fredric March, Royal Family of Broadway-a collection of tics
3. Lionel Barrymore, A Free Soul-prototypical winner

Nominees that didn’t make it (Actress):
5. Norma Shearer, A Free Soul-supporting wife
4. Irene Dunne, Cimarron-and another one


Robert Ames, Holiday
Wallace Beery, Min and Bill
James Cagney, Public Enemy
Charles Chaplin, City Lights
Ronald Colman, Devil to Pay
Jackie Coogan, Skippy-a little too convincing to fully embrace
Emil Jannings, Blue Angel
Bela Lugosi, Dracula
Fredric March, Honor Among Lovers
Victor McLagen, Dishonored
Adolphe Menjou, Front Page-hard boiled in a soft film
Edward G. Robinson, Little Caesar

Virginia Cherrill, City Lights
Claudette Colbert, Honor Among Lovers
Marlene Dietrich, Blue Angel
Marlene Dietrich, Dishonored
Marlene Dietrich, Morocco-sexy movie star overwhelms the acting in all the right ways
Marie Dressler, Min and Bill-broad comedy, subtle tragedy
Ann Harding, Holiday-the only girl who wants to have fun
Sylvia Sidney, City Streets

Dwight Frye, Dracula
Edward Everett Horton, Holiday
Harry Myers, City Lights

Mary Astor, Holiday
Helga Doorn, Borderline
Margaret Dumont, Animal Crackers
Mitzi Green, Skippy
Jean Harlow, Public Enemy
Marjorie Rambeau, Min and Bill


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