Part 6: The Players

The Stars

The depression years produced many beloved stars for the public. Although the STARS on this page did not become 'legends' in the big sense of the word, they were very popular and are generally remembered today. I might consider some of these STARS as NEAR LEGENDS.

Don Ameche
The Story of Alexander Graham Bell(1939) is probably Don's most remembered role although he is most renowned for his romantic leads as in One in a Million(1936) and Midnight(1939). He was still a prolific star into the 1940s. Many years later came a revival in Cocoon(1985).
Jean Arthur
A perfect formula for success was Jean Arthur + Jimmy Stewart + Frank Capra. A couple of good examples are You Can't Take it With You(1938), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington(1939).
John Barrymore
Everyone loved to ooh and aah over John's perfect profile and of course he is one of the main contributors to the Barrymore acting mystique. My favorites: Grand Hotel(1932), Dinner at Eight(1933), Twentieth Century(1934) and Midnight(1939).
Constance Bennett
The first film that should come to mind with Constance Bennett is What Price Hollywood(1932) but lets not forget Topper(1937).
Charles Boyer
Remember his suave, deep, thick accent? Think of Pepe le Moko in Algiers(1938) asking Hedy Lamarr to "come with me to the Casbah". Another good Boyer film is Love Affair(1939) with Irene Dunne.
Maurice Chevalier
He was at his debonaire best when handled by Ernst Lubitsch in films such as The Smiling Lieutenant(1931), One Hour With You(1932), and The Merry Widow(1934).
Claudette Colbert After Cecil B. DeMille's Sign of the Cross(1932) and her famous milk bath, she couldn't help but be noticed. Her best roles were comedies and they pushed her popularity to the top. My favorites are Three Cornered Moon(1933), It Happened One Night(1934), Cleopatra (1934), Tovarich(1937), I Met Him in Paris(1937), Bluebeard's Eighth Wife(1938), Midnight(1939) and Drums Along the Mohawk(1939).
Ronald Colman
Colman was the ultimate in 'class', no matter what situation he was in. To see what I mean, check out Raffles(1930), The Unholy Garden(1931), A Tale of Two Cities(1935), Lost Horizon(1937), The Prisoner of Zenda(1937) and The Light That Failed(1939).
Olivia de Havilland
Olivia was not really offered substantial roles until later decades but we were able to see glimmers of what would come in a few films such as Captain Blood(1935), The Adventures of Robin Hood(1938), Dodge City(1939) and of course Gone With the Wind(1939).
Irene Dunne
After making her first true impressions in the Academy Award winning Cimarron(1931), she eventually found her forte in comedy. Her two best of the decade are The Awful Truth(1937) and Love Affair(1939).
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
It must have been difficult starting out in the shadow of his father's reputation but junior did alright for himself. He made a lot of movies, although not many memorable ones. The most successful of this decade must be Gunga Din(1939).
Miriam Hopkins
One of Miriam Hopkins' best known films is The Story of Temple Drake(1933). Others that stand out in my mind are Trouble in Paradise(1932), Design for Living(1933), These Three(1936), Woman Chases Man(1937), and The Old Maid(1939).
Leslie Howard
After beginning his acting career on stage, he successfully progressed to Englishman roles in film. He made several fine films in this decade including The Scarlet Pimpernel(1934), Of Human Bondage(1934), The Petrified Forest(1936), Pygmalion(1938) and of course Gone With the Wind(1939).
Buster Keaton
An enormously popular star of the silent movies, Buster still found some of his comedic success would trickle into the 1930s. Some of the best examples are Free and Easy(1930), Doughboys(1930), Sidewalks of New York(1931), and Speak Easily(1932).
Carole Lombard Although she began rather quietly in films, Carole Lombard hit her stride in Twentieth Century(1934) with John Barrymore and never looked back. Her combination of beauty and screwball comedic talents were marvelous to watch. Classic Lombard can be seen in Hands Across the Table(1935), The Princess Comes Across(1936), My Man Godfrey(1936), Nothing Sacred(1937), Made For Each Other(1939) and In Name Only(1939).
Myrna Loy She proved to be very versatile in comedy, drama and exotic roles. Myrna could be evil or make the perfect wife--especially for William Powell. Her more memorable films include The Mask of Fu Manchu(1932), Topaze(1933), Manhattan Melodrama(1934), The Thin Man(1934), After the Thin Man(1936), Double Wedding(1937), Test Pilot(1938), Too Hot to Handle(1938) and Another Thin Man(1939).
Jeanette MacDonald
This gal could really sing as evidenced by operettas like Naughty Marietta(1935), Rose Marie(1936), and Maytime(1937) with Nelson Eddy. She certainly has some other excellent films in the decade as well. Count among them Love Me Tonight(1932), One Hour With You(1932), The Merry Widow(1934), and San Francisco(1936).
Fred MacMurray
We tend to remember Fred in fatherly roles as in his later movies or the TV series My Three Sons. However, he was a great comedic actor and leading man back in the 1930s and he made some good films. Most notable were Alice Adams(1935), Hands Across the Table(1935), The Princess Comes Acrosss(1936), and Trail of the Lonesome Pine(1936).
Joel McCrea
Joel was the epitome of a 'good guy' in his many leading man roles. His best performances include These Three(1936), Come and Get It(1936) and Dead End(1937).
Paul Muni
One of the finest actors of all time, he made too few films. In the 30s, some of his accomplishments include: Scarface(1932), I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang(1932), Bordertown(1935), The Good Earth(1937), The Life of Emile Zola(1937), and Juarez(1939).
Pat O'Brien
Although he was very prolific in the 1930s, His most memorable year to me was 1940 with The Fighting 69th, Torrid Zone , and Knute Rockne-All American.. In the 30s my favorite was Angels with Dirty Faces(1938).
Maureen O'Sullivan
Of course we remember all the Tarzan movies the best. However, a few of my other favorites were Just Imagine(1930), Skyscraper Souls(1932), The Devil-Doll(1936), and A Day at the Races(1937).
Dick Powell
Dick went on to more challenging acting assignments in the 1940s but in the 30s he was 'everywhere' in musicals like 42nd Street(1933), Gold Diggers of 1933(1933), Footlight Parade(1933),, and On the Avenue(1937).
William Powell He had a classy air and a flair for comedy that perfectly melded, especially in his sleuthing roles. They don't make them like this anymore. See what I mean in One Way Passage(1932), Manhattan Melodrama(1934), The Thin Man(1934), The Great Zigfeld(1936), The Ex-Mrs. Bradford(1936), My Man Godrey(1936), After the Thin Man(1936) and Double Wedding(1937).
Tyrone Power
His classic good looks made him the perfect leading man. The 1930s were his formative years as an actor but there were several very good films from this. My favorites are Lloyd's of London(1936), In Old Chicago(1937), The Rains Came(1939), and Jesse James(1939).
George Raft
Although he was first noted for hoofing, the gangster genre was a boon for George. Perhaps his real life association with gangsters helped him get into these tough-guy roles. Key performances include Scarface(1932), Bolero(1934), and Spawn of the North(1938).
Norma Shearer
Norma was a huge star in the 30s. She is remembered for being the wife of MGM wiz-kid Irving Thalberg but her most memorable roles include The Divorcee(1930), Riptide(1934), The Barretts of Wimpole Street(1934), Romeo and Juliet(1936), and The Women(1939).
Sylvia Sidney
A fine actress who starred in the likes of An American Tragedy(1931), Trail of the Lonesome Pine(1936), Fury(1936), and Dead End(1937).
Barbara Stanwyck
She left most of her classic performances for the next decade but we saw some memorable thirties work in The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), Baby Face(1933), Stella Dallas(1937), and Union Pacific(1939).
Loretta Young
She looked more like a model than an actress and that may have slowed the arrival of stardom until after this decade was over. Still, there are good films from her repertoire such as Big Business Girl(1931), Platinum Blonde(1931), Heroes For Sale(1933), Employees' Entrance(1933), and Zoo in Budapest(1933).

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The LEGENDARY 1930s Movie Stars
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