Part 3: The Daring Films of 1930-1934


Mata Hari-

Greta Garbo gives one of her most alluring performances as a highly seductive German spy who is executed in France during World War I. This role suited Garbo's cool and mysterious personna. She systematically uses her sensuality to seduce both a boyish lieutenant, played by Ramon Novarro, and the crusty General Shubin, played by Lionel Barrymore. Although the film's dialogue could be stronger, it is Garbo in her Adrian fashions that the public wanted.


This classic horror movie features Boris Karloff as the monster and Colin Clive as the mad scientist. Some footage was censored for the original release (including a scene where the monster kills a little girl) but was restored in 1987. The original is skillfully filmed by director James Whale and is superior to almost all its sequels.

Monkey Business-

There is more Marx Brothers madness as they stowaway on an ocean liner. Sexy temptress Thelma Todd is the foil this time. There isn't much of a plot but watch them steal Maurice Chevalier's passport and all try to imitate him to get off of the ship. Harpo straps a gramophone to his back and mimes a recent Chevalier song. It is classic comedy, at least partly directed by Norman Z. McLeod.

Platinum Blonde-

Watch what happens when the worlds of a street smart newspaper reporter, and a classy young high society blonde collide. They elope! Robert Williams and Jean Harlow fill these roles but when you add beautiful Loretta Young to play Williams' "pal" reporter sidekick, it makes for a rocky marriage. Williams uses his charismatic charm to set the tone in this wisecracking comedy. It is a pity that Hollywood lost him shortly after this film.

The Public Enemy-

James Cagney is virile and sinister in this biography of a typical mobster from his formative youth until his gruesome end. The story is brought to the screen with realism and objectivity. Develop a feel for a gangster's life in the 1930s by seeing this one.

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Some of my favorite films from each year starting with 1930
Five of my favorites from 1932<--next
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