best film:  Duck Soup. King Kong is a fine choice as well. Both are genre staples. I’d give the edge to duck soup for its all-out comic assault and just about as good as a film can get without being overly impressed with who is directing it (though clearly the Marx Brothers work with McCarey- a known talent- is stronger than their other work and I don’t think it’s a coincidence).

most overrated:  Zero for Conduct at #248 on TSPDT is overrated. It’s in incomplete work of course- and there are some moments of brilliance- I just can’t get behind it in the top 250.

most underrated:   Lang’s the testament of dr. mabuse is underrated at #704. It’s vividly shot, narratively deft and ambitious in style. It should be ranked higher.

gem I want to spotlight:  Busby Berkeley’s choreography (and he know exactly how to best shoot it for effect) is on full display here. It’s very different from love me tonight but a genre mainstay nonetheless.

trends and notables:  Depression-era escapism is in full effect here with 42nd street, gold diggers of 33’, and other light fare. King Kong and Duck Soup would make the high water-mark for adventure and laughs for many critics for years to come. Spencer Tracy would make his first archiveable film with the power and the glory– he’d go on to have a tremendous rest of the 30’s decade.

best performance male: it’s a weaker year all-around for performances so it makes it pretty easy for me to pick Groucho Marx for his performance in duck soup. Chico and Harpo are hilarious and talented but clearly Groucho is the straw that stirs the drink and his performance as Rufus T. Firefly would go down in cinema history.

best performance female: Again, pretty slim pickings here but I’ll pick Hepburn for her Oscar nominated performance in morning glory.


top 10

  1. Duck Soup
  2. King Kong
  3. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
  4. 42nd Street
  5. Footlight Parade
  6. Zero for Conduct
  7. Gold Diggers of 33’
  8. The Invisible Man
  9. Dinner at Eight
  10. The Bitter Tea of General Yen


Archives, Directors, and Grades

42nd Street- Bacon HR
Baby Face R
Cavalcade R
Design For Living- Lubitsch R
Dinner at Eight- Cukor R
Don Quixote- Pabst
Duck Soup- McCarey MP
Footlight Parade- Bacon HR
Gold Diggers of 33′- Leroy HR
I’m No Angel R
King Kong MS
Lady For a Day- Capra R
Little Women- Cukor R
Morning Glory- R
She Done Him Wrong R
The Bitter Tea of General Yen- Capra R
The Invisible Man- Whale R
The Power and the Glory- Tracy R
The Private Life of Henry VIII- Korda R
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse- Lang HR
The World Changes- LeRoy R
Wild Boys of the Road- Wellman R
Woman of Tokyo- Ozu
Zero For Conduct- Vigo HR

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives