THE MIDDLE THIRTIES: Over the last few weeks, I've written
about my favorite films of 2005
But wait, there's more!
When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked
back at 1935, it gave its Best Picture award to Mutiny on the Bounty. That's an excellent film, and it's close to
the top of my list. But there's another movie that I think is better:
1. The Bride of
Directed by James Whale
Written by William Hurlbut and John L. Balderston
A young scientist named Frankenstein feels torn between a
conventional marriage and a same-sex liason with his mentor, an old queen named
Pretorius. The latter persuades the protagonist to reproduce with him through unnatural
means. Upon succeeding, Pretorius proclaims himself "the bride of
Frankenstein." Careless viewers assume he's referring to the couple's
2. Mutiny on the
Directed by Frank Lloyd
Written by Talbot Jennings, Jules Furthman, and Carey Wilson,
from a novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
Revolution on the high seas.
3. Top Hat
Directed by Mark Sandrich
Written by Allan Scott, Dwight Taylor, Ben Holmes, and Ralph
"You mean to sit there and tell me that that girl
slapped your face in front of all those people for nothing?" "Well,
what would you have done? Sold tickets?"
4. Ruggles of Red Gap
Directed by Leo McCarey
Written by Walter DeLeon, Harlan Thompson, and Humphrey
Pearson, from a novel by Harry Leon Wilson
The first great comedy western.
5. The 39 Steps
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Charles Bennett and Ian Hay, from a novel by John
Hitchcock wouldn't perfect
the lightly comic conspiracy movie til he made The Lady Vanishes, but I think it's fair to say that this is where
he mastered it.
6. A Night at the
Directed by Sam Wood
Written by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind
The taming of the Marx Brothers begins here, but in this
case the film is so funny that you barely notice. In later pictures, alas, that
Directed by Jean Renoir
Written by Renoir and Carl Einstein, from a story by Andre
Neorealism was a film movement born in Italy in the 1940s, yet
somehow Renoir made a neorealist movie in France in the 1930s. Go figure.
8. Sazen Tange and
the Pot Worth a Million Ryo
Directed by Sadao Yamanaka
Written by Shintarô Mimura
"Why is that man groaning?" "He lost a
9. A Colour Box
Directed by Len Lye
This is one of Lye's crazed abstract avant-garde animations.
It is also, technically, an advertisement for the British General Post Office.
10. Captain Blood
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Written by Casey Robinson, from a novel by Rafael Sabatini
Almost as insurrectionary as Mutiny on the Bounty, almost as kinky as The Bride of Frankenstein.
I'm not going to include a full honorable mentions list for
this year, but I will give a shout-out to Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle's
take on A Midsummer Night's Dream—a picture
for people who like high camp in their high art.
Of the films of 1935 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in La Bandera, The Scoundrel,
Pie in the Sky, and Night Life of the Gods.