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

Friday, January 05, 2018
EIGHTY YEARS BACK: favorite movies of 2007:
check. Of 1997: check. Of 1987: check. Of 1977: check. Of 1967: check. Of 1957: check. Of 1947: check. Have you spotted the pattern?

When the Motion Picture Academy looked back at 1937, it gave its Best Picture award to a formulaic biopic called The Life of Emile Zola. You won't find that one here:

1. Pépé le Moko
Directed by Julien Duvivier
Written by Duvivier, Henri La Barthe, Jacques Constant, and Henri Jeanson, from a novel by La Barthe

The Casbah Autonomous Zone.

2. Grand Illusion
Directed by Jean Renoir
Written by Renoir and Charles Spaak

"Frontiers are an invention of men. Nature doesn't give a hoot."

3. Night Must Fall
Directed by Richard Thorpe
Written by John Van Druten, from a play by Emlyn Williams

This atmospheric crime story's origins as a play are obvious but not overwhelming: It is dialogue-heavy but never too talky, placebound without seeming stagy.

4. Nothing Sacred
Directed by William Wellman
Written by Ben Hecht, Ring Lardner Jr., and Budd Schulberg, from a story by James H. Street

The secret origins of Oliver Stone.

5. The Awful Truth
Directed by Leo McCarey
Written by Viña Delmar and Sidney Buchman, from a play by Arthur Richman

"I've seen your picture in the paper and wondered what you looked like."

6. Make Way for Tomorrow
Directed by Leo McCarey
Written by Viña Delmar

That title—Make Way for Tomorrow—is about as bitterly ironic as Old Hollywood could get.

7. Un Carnet de Bal
Directed by Julien Duvivier
Written by Duvivier, Henri Jeanson, Yves Mirande, Jean Sarment, Pierre Wolff, and Bernard Zimmer

A widow tours her love life's garden of forking paths.

8. The Great Garrick
Directed by James Whale
Written by Ernest Vajda, from his novel

Imagine a Truman Show–style scenario where virtually everyone surrounding the protagonist is actually an actor. Now imagine that they all come from the Jon Lovitz "Master Thespian" school of acting.

9. Stage Door
Directed by Gregory La Cava
Written by Morrie Ryskind and Anthony Veiller, from a play by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman

It isn't as famous as the year's other aspiring-actress story, William Wellman's A Star is Born, but it's much, much better.

10. Easy Living
Directed by Mitchell Leisen
Written by Preston Sturges, from a story by Vera Caspary

Like many Sturges stories, this is stuffed with jokes about class, convention, hypocrisy, and mistaken identity.

Honorable mentions:

11. The Edge of the World (Michael Powell)
12. Pearls of the Crown (Sacha Guitry, Christian-Jaque)
13. On the Avenue (Roy Del Ruth)
14. Mr. Fantômas (Ernst Moerman)
15. Désiré (Sacha Guitry)
16. Shall We Dance (Mark Sandrich)
17. The Old Mill (Wilfred Jackson)
18. Stand-In (Tay Garnett)
19. Even—As You and I (Harry Hay, Roger Barlow, LeRoy Robbins)
20. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (David Hand)

Of the films of 1937 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in Harvest.

posted by Jesse 9:42 AM
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