1930s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#751 Post by knives » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:42 am

Parts of it are I suppose. I tend to buy into the drama so hard I don't think I could recognize any comedy.

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matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#752 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:49 am

Between Pasqualito's pathetic, self-defeating attempt at a version of his experience with Concha which makes her look evil (and which only makes him sound like an idiot), Concha's fidgety little-girl antics, and Edward Everett Horton, I don't see how I could fail to laugh. I love the movie, though.

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#753 Post by knives » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:52 am

Those things are funny I suppose, I guess my sense of humour interprets that as more tragedy than comedy though both are valid.

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swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
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Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#754 Post by swo17 » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:21 pm

Anna und Elisabeth (Frank Wisbar)
As I was only the tenth person in the entire world to rate this film on the IMDb, I take it it could use a little push. We are definitely in Bergman/Dreyer territory here, as Tommaso suggested earlier. The film asks some pretty fascinating questions about faith, especially how you deal with it when confronted with evidence that goes against the miraculous events that gave rise to your faith in the first place. And then how do you deal with others who have experienced exactly the same things as you but decide to interpret them differently? The nature of miracles themselves is also called into question, as, say, a seemingly miraculous healing could simply be explained by the original diagnosis having been wrong. But can this really explain away all miracles? And how far can one walk the tightrope of faith without falling off? The film provides no clear answers, but leaves plenty of room for people of all backgrounds and beliefs to agree with certain decisions made by the characters and to perhaps accept the mystery in others. I haven't even spoken yet of Dorothea Wieck and Hertha Thiele, who are phenomenal as the titular leads, and who form a very strange sort of faith-based bond through their shared experiences.

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swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
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Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#755 Post by swo17 » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:06 pm

Hmmm...given that the forum is going to be down all day on the 29th and possibly longer, I'm wondering if we shouldn't extend the deadline another week or so. Thoughts?

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Murdoch
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#756 Post by Murdoch » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:09 pm

I'm for it, I can get in a few more viewings which makes it all the better!

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matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#757 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:13 pm

I'd be happy to have another couple of days, though I'm anxious to get to the 40s

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#758 Post by knives » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:19 pm

Whatever is easiest for you.

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reno dakota
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 11:30 am

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#759 Post by reno dakota » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:23 pm

Yes, please. Another week of viewings will help.

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#760 Post by zedz » Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:22 pm

I say yes (since I'm going to be completely overcommitted at the end of the month).

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Wu.Qinghua
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:31 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#761 Post by Wu.Qinghua » Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:43 pm

I'd be happy, because that would give me the chance to reduce the number of Shanghai films on my list ... :-#

If it suits you, too, I support an extension of the deadline.

Btw, though I'd never seen Carné's 'Drole de drame' before, I've been pretty sure that I would love it ... which I actually did. A pretty lovely farce it is, mocking the high and mighty ...
Last edited by Wu.Qinghua on Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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tojoed
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:47 am
Location: Cambridge, England

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#762 Post by tojoed » Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:43 pm

Yes from me, too. I have a list, but might change some with a little more time.

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swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
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Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#763 Post by swo17 » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:01 pm

It's official then: deadline moved to August 7th.

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domino harvey
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Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#764 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:02 pm

Fuck y'all, make the deadline next week

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Tommaso
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#765 Post by Tommaso » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:28 pm

swo17 wrote:Anna und Elisabeth (Frank Wisbar)
As I was only the tenth person in the entire world to rate this film on the IMDb, I take it it could use a little push. We are definitely in Bergman/Dreyer territory here, as Tommaso suggested earlier.
Thank you, swo. I hope your reaction makes it a bit clearer why the 'German crew' tries to push some films here, even if it perhaps comes over as somewhat 'weird' (or worse) from time to time. These great films are simply so completely unknown and neglected... and I can assure you that almost no-one has seen this film in particular even in the country of its origin.

And yes, extend the deadline if you like. Gives me the chance to watch perhaps a few more of those Duviviers and Ophuls' that I still haven't managed to see.

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Murdoch
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:59 pm
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Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#766 Post by Murdoch » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:33 pm

In my search for the mentioned Wisbar film I stumbled across this site selling many German films from the decade. Anyone had any experiences with them?

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lubitsch
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 4:20 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#767 Post by lubitsch » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:41 pm

The next episode of my country evaluation for undecisive last minute viewers

Soviet Union

Oy. I have a well known West German film history from 1960 where the Soviet cinema of the 30s is debated on 18 pages while Hollywood of the same era gets 16. These times are long long gone and all the better for it.
So what's there? Propaganda to a stunning degree pervading virtually each and every film no matter what genre. So one has to hope with every film that it's not too much and not too disturbing (Eisenstein can be happy that his Bezhin Meadow was destroyed, the script is genuinely frightening) and that it has enough pleasures in store who outweigh the datedness.
Therefore I'd say the less typical and official the film is the better it can be watched today. The last montage films like Deserteur, A Simple Case, Ivan or Nail in the Boot are rather boring exercises there's one stunning exception though and that's the well known powerhouse Salt for Svanetia, an equally moody and rousing documentary for which no excessive advertisement is necessary anymore. I am bored to tears by Vertov, others will have more enthusiasm for Entuziazm or Three Songs for Lenin. Biopic/revolution history stuff is also mostly a chore, yes the protagonist of the Maxim trilogy is likeable, the Gorki trilogy has quirky characters and Chapayev is a modestly anarchic military leader, but essentially the second half of the decade is a cruel illustration of how to murder a film industry, the qualities of these films are too insignificant. I have not much sympathy for a propaganda tract like Alexander Nevsky but even the formal brilliance is again and again undercut by silly scenes. The built up to the battle is great, but the battle itself is abominably staged with knights talking and whacking as if this would be a sunday carpet cleaning not a bloody fight. Also the eerie propaganda poisons films like Severe Young Man which has quite a reputation in Russia, but looks very stiff and not very playful. I was equally deeply disappointed by The Great Consoler supposed to be Kuleshov's masterpiece, but IMHO an equally stiff propaganda tract with Khokhlova thrown in with a parallel plot for no clear purpose.
Better are the more realistic or even poetic films. It's debatable if the world still needs The Road to Life, the Soviet Boys Town version, though it's easily better than the US counterpart. But when we get to some literary versions we have quite solid efforts like Quiet Don and some very good ones like Pyshka filmed by Mikhail Romm before Mizoguchi and John Ford also jumped the Maupassant bandwagon in this decade, three times filmed in three countries within five years, interesting accident. The strongest film of these is IMHO a rather forgotten film by now though it is sometimes quoted among the early sound films and that's Thunderstorm/Groza by Petrov. It's a classical literature adaptation, nothing really special storywise but very moody, very brooding and tragic, well acted, satiric and very serious at the same time. It's a classy but not glossy effort of a kind the Soviet cinema would only start again in the late 50s. A pity that a TV rip floating around is all that's available.
Even more attractive for some are the poetic films with Earth obviously being the most famous one though the shadows of the holodomor hang heavily over this film which is for me no less problematic than Jud Süß. Dovzhenko was a victim of Stalin's system, no doubt and a Ukrainian patriot for which he paid dearly, but this film remains very problematic. Other films of this school with an exotic touch are the surprisingly effective Odna and the films of Barnet Okraina and By the Bluest of Seas. Barnet has understandably become the darling of film critics though I think all these lovely atmospheric shots of a small city and the sea don't really jell together in thrilling films, but surely they belong to the ones worth watching.
But as is so often the case in repressive systems (Hays Hollywood also belongs here) comedies are the freshest representatives of national filmmaking. Medvedkin's Happiness is arguably the knockout Soviet masterpiece of the decade, more surrealist than Cocteau and Bunuel put together. It will be interesting how it fares against the two famous classics Earth and Nevsky. Also quite nice is Aleksandrov's Jolly Fellows though it's rather a grab bag of gags than a fully coherent film, but this needn't be a bad thing. I also thought Lieutenant Kizhe rather amusing, it's a single joke movie but manages to keep up the speed throughout its running time.
The other film which deserves attention is Ptushko's New Gulliver. He and Alexander Rou were the Russian fairy tale experts for decades to come, but Ptushko already here crafts a lovely puppet animation of the Gulliver story. Together with Starewicz and Disney this is one of the great animation films of this decade and it's genuinely funny not just touching in a historically-nostalgic way. There are even two Science fiction films which are however to heavy-handed and propagandistic to join the classic ranks.
But still the joys of Soviet cinema are obviously not there where Stalin led it, but in its quirky, poetic and realistic moments. It's still a rather depressing story, the Third Reich and Japan (at least until the war) never tried to reign in their own film industries to such a degree for propagandistic intentions which is their win and the Soviet Union's loss. A final note: the Soviet actors often are too broad, too much types, too youthful or too quirky, there are virtually no convincing stars with natural authority a la Hans Albers, Gary Cooper or Jean Gabin.

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lubitsch
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 4:20 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#768 Post by lubitsch » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:57 pm

Murdoch wrote:In my search for the mentioned Wisbar film I stumbled across this site selling many German films from the decade. Anyone had any experiences with them?
Never seen this page but they seem to have mostly no subs. I think it would be best if we choose 6-10 masterpieces with subs but no release and put them up at a filehoster until the end of this project for those who can't access them elsewhere. Der Kongreß tanzt (which is probably the most often referenced film in Japanese cinema of the 30s where "Das gibt's nur einmal" is sung everywhere from Ozu to Naruse), two Hochbaums, two Wysbars, Student of Prague, a Schünzel and so on.

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swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#769 Post by swo17 » Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:07 pm

lubitsch wrote:I think it would be best if we choose 6-10 masterpieces with subs but no release and put them up at a filehoster until the end of this project for those who can't access them elsewhere. Der Kongreß tanzt (which is probably the most often referenced film in Japanese cinema of the 30s where "Das gibt's nur einmal" is sung everywhere from Ozu to Naruse), two Hochbaums, two Wysbars, Student of Prague, a Schünzel and so on.
I've been including links for otherwise unavailable films in the first post's spotlight section. Anything you want to host somewhere like megaupload, feel free to share the links and I can include them there. I'll try to host Anna und Elisabeth tonight.

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#770 Post by knives » Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:15 pm

I doubt it will even be top 1000 material, but is Resnais' first film available anywhere?

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Cold Bishop
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#771 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:31 pm

Another recommendation for Okraina and Happiness, which are available on DVD in the U.S. via Facets and Icarus.

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Tommaso
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#772 Post by Tommaso » Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:55 pm

Murdoch wrote:In my search for the mentioned Wisbar film I stumbled across this site selling many German films from the decade. Anyone had any experiences with them?
No, but you can bet that these people only put films on dvd that the collectors and fans have painstakingly brought to the more secretive places of the internet for free (I admit that this 'reichskino' site has a few films that I haven't managed to track down yet, but they are indeed very few). There's some guy on Austrian ebay who does something similar, and I have a very clear idea where he got his rarities from. Don't waste your money on these people.

Otherwise, I completely agree with lubitsch's suggestion (and don't forget "Ich bei Tag und du bei Nacht"). And thanks, swo, for hosting "Anna und Elisabeth" somewhere. I simply have such a damn slow upload...

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Murdoch
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#773 Post by Murdoch » Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:15 pm

Ah, that's what I thought but as someone unfamiliar with the secretive torrent sites out there I'm easily lured. So I'm all for the initial post hosting whatever films posters have, would add to an already much appreciated resource.

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#774 Post by zedz » Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:23 pm

Further to lubitsch's Soviet round-up, which I largely agree with, the 'Socialist Realist' film I like best, though it won't be gracing my list this time around, was unmentioned: Dzigan's We from Kronstadt. It's a long time since I've seen it, but I remember it as a bit moodier and more dynamic than the likes of Chapayev or the Gorky films, and it's got a powerful climax.

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matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: 1930s List Discussion and Suggestions

#775 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:15 am

I'm rewatching the Scarlet Empress, and it has if anything moved still higher on my list.

I still think it's a movie of surfaces- not in the sense that it's shallow, but in the way that Kane is a movie of surfaces, because shots and looks and things so overwhelm the people in it that their personalities almost become objects, as strange and baroque as the art design. Which isn't to say that the performances aren't marvelous- Dietrich's transformation from innocent little girl to calculating powerbroker is so abrupt as to be funny, but she plays both as expertly as one would expect, and both Peter and the empress are wonderfully entertaining monsters.

Again, I find von Sternberg slyly hilarious, from the nasty comments on the action the intertitles provide to the way that Dietrich within the movie dominates and manipulates everyone around her (in the second half, anyway) to the open mockery of class, royalty, and gender roles, everything is observed as though by a distant, dry narrator. The slapstick comedy villainy of Peter, in particular- the giant drill going into his mother's room, his idiot refusal even to pretend to care for the poor, and Dietrich's contempt for his power even within the movie- is particularly funny, both in of itself and as a commentary on the powerful.

What's strange to me is that in spite of being consistently funny, the movie is also somehow stirring, and moving as a well made historical romance played straight might be. I have no idea of how von Sternberg and co manage both at once, but I'm guessing this will wind up in my top five. I'm really excited to keep working through von Sternberg's filmography now.

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