The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

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 Frankenstein
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 creation.

2. Mutiny on the Bounty
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 Spence

"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 Buchan

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 Opera
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 will change.

7. Toni
Directed by Jean Renoir
Written by Renoir and Carl Einstein, from a story by Andre Levert

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 game."

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.

posted by Jesse 4:44 PM
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