Cast: Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou, May Robson, Andy Devine, Lionel Stander
Running Time: 111 mins.

A Star is Born showcased Janet Gaynor's last great performance and established one of the screen's most enduring tales of tragic love. A triumph of top-grade production values, writing, and acting, it represented the zenith of efforts from United Artists in the late 1930s, and remains entertaining and relevant when viewed by current-day audiences. This is one of the best films of the 1930s, particularly notable for the acting and the high level of technical work, as director William Wellman adroitly combines a rich visual style with the luminous performances of the film's stars. An honorary Oscar selected by a panel of cinematographers went to Howard Greene's Technicolor work, helping to change Academy rules two years later to recognize color cinematography as a separate category from Black & White. The film received seven Oscar nominations overall, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress for Gaynor, and Best Actor for Fredric March, winning for Wellman and co-scripter Robert Carson as "Best Original Story.

Directed by William A. Wellman. Story by William A. Wellman and
Robert Carson. Screenplay by Dorothy Parker & Alan Campbell & Robert Carson.


Cast: Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire, Ernest Torrence, Tom Lewis, Marion Byron
Running Time: 69 mins.

Buster Keaton was the master of the physical stunts and expressive gestures that were the stuff of silent film comedy -- Steamboat Bill Jr. is one of Keaton's most popular features. The plot concerns a student who returns to small-town Mississippi to take over his father's steamboat. Predictably, he falls for the daughter of his chief business rival. The climax, in which Keaton battles a tornado, is the film's most memorable section, featuring some real physical danger for Keaton, who did all his own stunts. Co-directed by Keaton with Charles Riesner, the film marked the beginning of the end of Keaton's dominance of silent film comedies.


Cast: Bruce Bennett, Ula Holt, Frank Baker, Dale Walsh, Don Costello, Lewis Sargent
Running Time: 67 mins.

The creator of the famous jungle lord, Edgar Rice Burrough's and his production company are behind this Tarzan movie, and for added realism, he had it filmed on location in the Guatemalan jungles where the cast and crew really suffered for their art amidst the heat, humidity, poisonous snakes and voracious insects. This is the first, and maybe the only film in which Tarzan speaks fluent English, the kind he spoke in the original book. His latest adventure begins when he is searching for an old friend. Eventually, the great ape-man ends up in the fabulous temple of the Lost Goddess where he finds unimaginable treasure and horror.


Cast: David Love, Dawn Anderson, Harvey B. Dunn, Bryant Grant, King Moody, Tom Graeff, Kent Rogers, Bob Williams, Thomas Lockyear
Running Time: 86 mins.

This off-the-wall, low-budget sci-fi film was written, produced, directed, edited, photographed, and acted (one role) by Tom Graeff -- The unlikely story concerns a spaceship that lands on Earth from somewhere a lot less accommodating. On board are the space aliens' grazing animals, the Gorgons. These are huge, lobster monsters that quickly balloon up to a gigantic size and then proceed to devour any humans in sight. Soon the space aliens are split between the loner who would rather forget the gorgons and just stay here, and his two evil opponents. The single good guy appears to be the only hope for saving the people of the earth from turning into a snack food.


Cast: Harold Lloyd, Adolphe Menjou, Veree Teasdale, Helen Mack, William Gargan, Lionel Stander
Running Time: 88 mins.

One of the funniest, most sharply paced comedies of the 1930s, and perhaps the best of all of Harold Lloyd's talkies, The Milky Way was based on the Broadway play by Lynn Root and Harry Clork. Lloyd plays Burleigh Sullivan, a mild-mannered milkman who intercedes one night when his sister Mae (Helen Mack) is being accosted on the street by two obnoxious drunks -- they turn their wrath on him, his sister runs for help, and when she returns less than a minute later, both men are out cold on the pavement, with Burleigh standing over them. As one of them, Speed MacFarland (William Gargan), is the world's middleweight boxing champion, and the other, Spider Schultz (Lionel Stander), is his sparring partner, Burleigh makes the front page of every newspaper in New York. McFarland's manager, Gabby Sloan (Adolphe Menjou), has to figure out how to salvage the champ's career, but first he has to figure out exactly what happened, since both fighters were too drunk to remember anything about it. It turns out that Sullivan couldn't beat an egg, but he is good at one thing -- ducking. He can dodge any punch, and the two fighters knocked each other out in the process of trying to pummel him. What's more, on hearing this, they're so angry that Schultz accidentally knocks MacFarland out again, just ahead of the press' arrival, and the little milkman is given credit once more by the reporters for decking the champ. Burleigh loves the attention, even though he never claims to have hit anyone. Meanwhile, Sloan comes up with a way of salvaging his fighter's career, and convinces Burleigh to go along with it for a promised cash sum -- all Burleigh has to do is get in the ring in six fights, to build up his standing and reputation, and finish his "career" in a fight with MacFarland, who will win. In the meantime, complications arise when MacFarland falls in love with Burleigh's sister, while Burleigh himself meets and falls in love with Polly Pringle (Dorothy Wilson), a helpful neighbor. Gabby, Spider, and Speed also discover that turning tiny, wiry Burleigh Sullivan into something that even looks like a fighter is easier said than done -- all of his fights have to be fixed (and then some) behind his back to make his victories look remotely genuine. Finally, after starting to believe his own publicity, and then discovering that the fights were fixed, Burleigh goes through with the final match-up against MacFarland, the culmination of a comedy of errors involving horses, foals, and a wild chase to the arena.


Cast: Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Philip Merivale, Richard Long
Running Time: 91 mins.

The Stranger is often considered Orson Welles' most "traditional" Hollywood-style directorial effort. Welles plays a college professor named Charles Rankin, who lives in a pastoral Connecticut town with his lovely wife Mary (Loretta Young). One afternoon, an extremely nervous German gentleman named Meineke (Konstantin Shayne) arrives in town. Professor Rankin seems disturbed--but not unduly so--by Meineke's presence. He invites the stranger for a walk in the woods, and as they journey farther and farther away from the center of town, we learn that kindly professor Rankin is actually notorious Nazi war criminal Franz Kindler. Conscience-stricken by his own genocidal wartime activities, Meineke has come to town to beg his ex-superior Kindler to give himself up. The professor responds by brutally murdering his old associate. If Kindler believes himself safe--and he has every reason to do so, since no one in town, especially Mary, has any inkling of his previous life--he will change his mind in a hurry when mild-mannered war crimes commissioner Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) pays a visit, posing as an antiques dealer.


Cast: Boris Karloff, Jack Nicholson, Sandra Knight, Dick Miller, Dorothy Neumann, Jonathan Haze
Running Time: 79 mins.

In this horror chiller, an intriguing, beautiful woman (Sandra Knight) keeps re-appearing to early 19th-century Lieutenant Duvalier (Jack Nicholson), and he is led to a castle where he finds an imposter of Baron Von Leppe (Boris Karloff). He becomes trapped in the ancient castle and tries to make sense of the eerie situation. Director Roger Corman (with the help of a few other directors, including Francis Ford Coppola) shot most of this within a few days after finishing The Raven -- utilizing the same set.


Cast: Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Paul Hoerbiger, Bernard Lee
Running Time: 104 mins.

An out of work pulp fiction novelist, Holly Martins, arrives in a grim post war Vienna divided into sectors by the victorious allies, and where a shortage of supplies has lead to a flourishing black market. He arrives at the invitation of an ex-school friend, Harry Lime, who has offered him a job, only to discover that Lime has recently died in a peculiar traffic accident. From talking to Lime's friends and associates Martins soon notices that some of the stories are inconsistent, and determines to discover what really happened to Harry Lime. Carol Reed's The Third Man is one of the odder successes among international films of the late 1940s. At a time when movies were supposedly getting dulled-down, in keeping with audience sensibilities, here was a quirky movie from England, with Hitchcock-like touches and an odd sense of humor, that manages to be grim, topical, and wryly witty, while retaining, even augmenting, a good bit of author Graham Greene's sensibility. For all the film's virtues, its making was a tale of compromises turned into inspiration. Producer Alexander Korda wanted NoŽl Coward to play the mysterious Harry Lime, but, once Orson Welles was cast in the part, the movie became a testament to his presence and impact; he's only on screen for about a quarter of the movie, but he's the actor that everyone remembers. In fact, Welles was off shooting another movie, reporting to The Third Man only late in the shooting, and he was doubled for many scenes: that was Carol Reed's assistant, future Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton, in the black trench coat running down Vienna's darkened streets, and those were director Reed's fingers reaching through the sewer grating at the chase's end. Recasting Joseph Cotten's Holly Martins as an American in turn allowed Greene to bring to the screen for the first time his antipathy toward Americans and their bright-eyed, bushy-tailed innocence in approaching the world's problems, a theme that would manifest itself even more directly in relation to Vietnam in The Quiet American.


Cast: Raymond Massey, Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Richardson, Margaretta Scott
Running Time: 93 mins.

1936's visually spectacular Things to Come, holds an important place in the history of science fiction cinema -- as a visionary work that aims to honestly tackle the devastating consequences of international warfare, this is one of the few science fiction films that's about something, that's meant to offer you mental popcorn to munch on long after the "The End" card. It "predicts" television, jet planes, and evil dictators. Things to Come spans an entire Apocalyptic century and three generations of story time, ending in 2036 with a rocket to the moon. The war-ravaged world it depicts is saved by Science and scientists, both personified with messianic rectitude by Raymond Massey. In its vast scope and its visualizations of global war and a civilizing techno-utopia, it's epic on a Cecil B. DeMille Bible movie scale. Directed by William Cameron Menzies. Written by H.G. Wells (also the novel The Shape of Things to Come).


Cast: Buster Keaton, Margaret Leahy, Wallace Beery, Oliver Hardy, Lillian Lawrence, Joe Roberts
Running Time: 63 mins.

Buster Keaton's hilarious first feature offers three plots in three different historical periods -- prehistoric times, ancient Rome, and modern times (the Roaring Twenties) are intercut to prove the point that mens' love for woman have not significantly changed throughout history. In all three plots, characters played by Buster Keaton and Wallace Beery compete for the attention of the same woman, played by Margaret Leahy.