Pre-Code 1930s Movies

by FilmFan2001 | created - 06 Feb 2018 | updated - 6 months ago | Public

A list of the Pre-Code Hollywood films in Danny Peary's Guide For The Film Fanatic.

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1. The Scoundrel (1935)

Approved | 76 min | Drama, Fantasy

A ruthless, cynical, hated publisher is killed in a plane crash, doomed to be a "restless" spirit for being unloved. A heavenly power gives him a month on Earth to find one person to shed a tear for him before his fate is sealed.

Directors: Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur | Stars: Noël Coward, Julie Haydon, Stanley Ridges, Martha Sleeper

Votes: 229

2. Maniac (1934)

Not Rated | 51 min | Horror

A former vaudevillian gifted at impersonation assists a mad scientist in reanimating corpses and soon goes mad himself.

Director: Dwain Esper | Stars: Bill Woods, Horace B. Carpenter, Ted Edwards, Phyllis Diller

Votes: 1,976

3. Cleopatra (1934)

Passed | 100 min | Biography, Drama, History

The man-hungry Queen of Egypt leads Julius Caesar and Mark Antony astray, amid scenes of DeMillean splendor.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille | Stars: Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Henry Wilcoxon, Joseph Schildkraut

Votes: 3,157

4. Hallelujah (1929)

Passed | 109 min | Drama, Musical

A sharecropper decides to become a preacher after falling for a vamp from the city.

Director: King Vidor | Stars: Daniel L. Haynes, Nina Mae McKinney, William Fountaine, Harry Gray

Votes: 1,457

5. The Love Parade (1929)

Passed | 107 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

The queen of mythical Sylvania marries a courtier, who finds his new life unsatisfying.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch | Stars: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Lupino Lane, Lillian Roth

Votes: 1,818

6. One Way Passage (1932)

Unrated | 67 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A terminally ill woman and a debonair murderer facing execution meet and fall in love on a trans-Pacific crossing, each without knowing the other's secret.

Director: Tay Garnett | Stars: William Powell, Kay Francis, Frank McHugh, Aline MacMahon

Votes: 3,142

7. Sanders of the River (1935)

Not Rated | 85 min | Adventure, Drama, Music

British District Officer in Nigeria in the 1930's rules his area strictly but justly, and struggles with gun-runners and slavers with the aid of a loyal native chief.

Directors: Zoltan Korda, Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Paul Robeson, Leslie Banks, Nina Mae McKinney, Robert Cochran

Votes: 481

8. Finishing School (1934)

Passed | 73 min | Drama, Romance

The trials and tribulations in a private, snobbish girls school.

Directors: George Nichols Jr., Wanda Tuchock | Stars: Frances Dee, Billie Burke, Ginger Rogers, Bruce Cabot

Votes: 421

9. I'm No Angel (1933)

Passed | 87 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

Circus performer Tira seeks a better life pursuing the company of wealthy New York men with improbable comic complications along the way.

Director: Wesley Ruggles | Stars: Mae West, Cary Grant, Gregory Ratoff, Edward Arnold

Votes: 2,738 | Gross: $2.85M

10. Svengali (1931)

Approved | 81 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

Through hypnotism and telepathic mind control, a sinister music maestro controls the singing voice, but not the heart, of the woman he loves.

Director: Archie Mayo | Stars: John Barrymore, Marian Marsh, Donald Crisp, Bramwell Fletcher

Votes: 1,614

11. Anna Christie (I) (1930)

Passed | 89 min | Drama, Romance

A young woman reunites with her estranged father and falls in love with a sailor, but struggles to tell them about her dark past.

Director: Clarence Brown | Stars: Greta Garbo, Charles Bickford, George F. Marion, Marie Dressler

Votes: 2,579 | Gross: $1.01M

12. The Bowery (1933)

Passed | 92 min | Comedy, Drama

"In the Gay Nineties New York had grown up into bustles and balloon Sleeves ... but The Bowery had grown younger, louder and more rowdy until it was known as the 'Livest Mile on the face of... See full summary »

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: Wallace Beery, George Raft, Jackie Cooper, Fay Wray

Votes: 403

13. Cimarron (1931)

Passed | 123 min | Drama, Western

A newspaper editor settles in an Oklahoma boom town with his reluctant wife at the end of the nineteenth century.

Director: Wesley Ruggles | Stars: Richard Dix, Irene Dunne, Estelle Taylor, Nance O'Neil

Votes: 4,944

14. City Streets (1931)

Passed | 83 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Man joins a gang to free his girlfriend from prison.

Director: Rouben Mamoulian | Stars: Gary Cooper, Sylvia Sidney, Paul Lukas, William 'Stage' Boyd

Votes: 1,139

15. Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)

78 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A drunken newspaperman is rescued from his alcoholic haze by an heiress whose love sobers him up and encourages him to write a play, but he lapses back into dipsomania.

Director: Dorothy Arzner | Stars: Sylvia Sidney, Fredric March, Adrianne Allen, Richard 'Skeets' Gallagher

Votes: 718

16. Glorifying the American Girl (1929)

Passed | 95 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

The rise of a showgirl, Gloria Hughes, culminating in a Ziegfeld extravaganza "Glorifying the American Girl".

Director: Millard Webb | Stars: Mary Eaton, Eddie Cantor, Helen Morgan, Rudy Vallee

Votes: 580

17. Imitation of Life (1934)

Approved | 111 min | Drama, Romance

A struggling widow and her daughter take in a black housekeeper and her fair-skinned daughter; the two women start a successful business, but face familial, identity, and racial issues along the way.

Director: John M. Stahl | Stars: Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Rochelle Hudson, Ned Sparks

Votes: 3,693

18. Heroes for Sale (1933)

Passed | 76 min | Drama, War

A veteran fights drug addiction to make his way in the business world.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Loretta Young, Richard Barthelmess, Aline MacMahon, Gordon Westcott

Votes: 1,943

19. Kongo (1932)

Passed | 86 min | Drama, Horror

This remake of West of Zanzibar (1928) made four years later tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. From a wheelchair a handicapped white man rules an area of Africa as a ... See full summary »

Director: William J. Cowen | Stars: Walter Huston, Lupe Velez, Conrad Nagel, Virginia Bruce

Votes: 791

20. Ladies of Leisure (1930)

Passed | 99 min | Drama, Romance

An upper-crust artist hires a 'party girl' as a model; romance follows.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Ralph Graves, Lowell Sherman, Marie Prevost

Votes: 991

21. Little Miss Marker (1934)

Passed | 80 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

Little Martha Jane, aka Little Miss Marker (Temple) is left with the bookmaker Sorrowful Jones by her dad as part of a bet on a horserace. Sorrowful (Menjou) and his group of fellow bookies... See full summary »

Director: Alexander Hall | Stars: Adolphe Menjou, Dorothy Dell, Charles Bickford, Shirley Temple

Votes: 1,123

22. Manhattan Melodrama (1934)

Not Rated | 93 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

The friendship between two orphans endures even though they grow up on opposite sides of the law and fall in love with the same woman.

Directors: W.S. Van Dyke, George Cukor | Stars: Clark Gable, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Leo Carrillo

Votes: 3,308

23. The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

Passed | 109 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

Elizabeth Barrett's tyrannical father has forbidden any of his family to marry. Nevertheless, Elizabeth falls in love with the poet Robert Browning.

Director: Sidney Franklin | Stars: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Sullivan

Votes: 1,481

24. Massacre (1934)

Passed | 70 min | Drama

Joe Thunderhorse, a Sioux Indian who has become the wealthy star of a Wild West show, returns home to his reservation after years away and finds that his father is dying and his people are being abused by corrupt white officials.

Director: Alan Crosland | Stars: Richard Barthelmess, Ann Dvorak, Dudley Digges, Claire Dodd

Votes: 196

25. The Big House (1930)

Passed | 87 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A convict falls in love with his new cellmate's sister, only to become embroiled in a planned break-out which is certain to have lethal consequences.

Directors: George W. Hill, Ward Wing | Stars: Chester Morris, Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone, Robert Montgomery

Votes: 1,686

26. The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)

TV-PG | 73 min | Action, Drama, War

The pilots of a Royal Air Force squadron in World War I face not only physical but mental dangers in their struggle to survive while fighting the enemy.

Director: Stuart Walker | Stars: Fredric March, Cary Grant, Jack Oakie, Carole Lombard

Votes: 954

27. The Cabin in the Cotton (1932)

TV-G | 78 min | Drama

A tenant farmer's son is caught in the middle of owner-tenant disputes when he falls for the plantation owner's seductive daughter.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Richard Barthelmess, Bette Davis, Dorothy Jordan, Hardie Albright

Votes: 1,334

28. The Girl from Missouri (1934)

Approved | 75 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Chorus girl Eadie is determined to marry a millionaire without sacrificing her virtue.

Directors: Jack Conway, Sam Wood | Stars: Jean Harlow, Franchot Tone, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone

Votes: 1,000

29. The Little Giant (1933)

Approved | 76 min | Comedy, Crime, Romance

When Prohibition ends, a beer baron sees the writing on the wall, quits the rackets, and tries to break into California society.

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Mary Astor, Helen Vinson, Russell Hopton

Votes: 963

30. The Kiss Before the Mirror (1933)

Passed | 69 min | Drama, Mystery

When a famous doctor kills his adulterous wife, he is defended by his best friend, an attorney--who suspects that his own wife is having an affair.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Nancy Carroll, Frank Morgan, Paul Lukas, Gloria Stuart

Votes: 285

31. The Secret 6 (1931)

Passed | 83 min | Crime, Drama

After rising bootlegger Slaughterhouse Scorpio eliminates his gangland competition, two reporters and a cabal of six businessmen work to expose him.

Director: George W. Hill | Stars: Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone, Johnny Mack Brown, Jean Harlow

Votes: 655

32. Trader Horn (1931)

Passed | 122 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Two white traders in the darkest Africa of the 1870s find a missionary's daughter, who was captured as a child by a savage tribe and now worshiped as a goddess.

Director: W.S. Van Dyke | Stars: Harry Carey, Edwina Booth, Duncan Renaldo, Mutia Omoolu

Votes: 834

33. The Wet Parade (1932)

Passed | 118 min | Drama, History, Romance

The evils of alcohol before and during prohibition become evident as we see its effects on the rich Chilcote family.

Director: Victor Fleming | Stars: Dorothy Jordan, Lewis Stone, Neil Hamilton, Emma Dunn

Votes: 339

34. Up the River (1930)

Passed | 92 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

When paroled trustee Steve and former inmate Judy who try to put their criminal lives behind them are blackmailed, two career criminals come to their rescue.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Claire Luce, Warren Hymer, Humphrey Bogart

Votes: 957

35. Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

Approved | 68 min | Adventure, Drama

In the depths of the Depression, two teenage boys strike out on their own in order to help their struggling parents and find life on the road tougher than expected.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Frankie Darro, Rochelle Hudson, Edwin Phillips, Dorothy Coonan Wellman

Votes: 1,687

36. The Count of Monte Cristo (1934)

Passed | 113 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

After greedy men have Edmound Dantes unjustly imprisoned for 20 years for innocently delivering a letter entrusted to him, he escapes to get his revenge on them.

Director: Rowland V. Lee | Stars: Robert Donat, Elissa Landi, Louis Calhern, Sidney Blackmer

Votes: 2,274

37. The Emperor Jones (1933)

Not Rated | 72 min | Drama, Music

Unscrupulously ambitious Brutus Jones escapes from jail after killing a guard and through bluff and bravado finds himself the emperor of a Caribbean island.

Directors: Dudley Murphy, William C. de Mille | Stars: Paul Robeson, Dudley Digges, Frank H. Wilson, Fredi Washington

Votes: 781

38. Evergreen (1934)

Not Rated | 94 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

Harriet Green, a beloved and radiant music hall star of the Edwardian era, has a guilty secret: She has a baby daughter, born out of wedlock. Harriet leaves her public and flees to South ... See full summary »

Director: Victor Saville | Stars: Jessie Matthews, Sonnie Hale, Betty Balfour, Barry MacKay

Votes: 467

39. Hallelujah I'm a Bum (1933)

Passed | 82 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

A New York tramp (Jolson) falls in love with the mayor's amnesiac girlfriend after rescuing her from a suicide attempt

Director: Lewis Milestone | Stars: Al Jolson, Madge Evans, Frank Morgan, Harry Langdon

Votes: 708

40. The Greeks Had a Word for Them (1932)

Passed | 79 min | Comedy

Sophisticated comedy: a trio of money hungry women who all have sugar daddies who keep them in the lap of luxury, even as they drive the men crazy. Each woman represents a different ... See full summary »

Director: Lowell Sherman | Stars: Joan Blondell, Madge Evans, Ina Claire, David Manners

Votes: 323

41. Hold Your Man (1933)

Passed | 87 min | Drama, Romance

A woman is sent to a reformatory when her con artist lover flees after killing a man during a botched blackmail scheme.

Director: Sam Wood | Stars: Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Stuart Erwin, Dorothy Burgess

Votes: 1,218

42. Just Imagine (1930)

Passed | 113 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Musical

New York, 1980: airplanes have replaced cars, numbers have replaced names, pills have replaced food, government-arranged marriages have replaced love, and test tube babies have replaced ...... See full summary »

Director: David Butler | Stars: El Brendel, Maureen O'Sullivan, John Garrick, Marjorie White

Votes: 604

43. Lady for a Day (1933)

Passed | 96 min | Comedy, Drama

A gangster tries to make Apple Annie, the Times Square apple seller, a lady for a day.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Warren William, May Robson, Guy Kibbee, Glenda Farrell

Votes: 3,525

44. Hell's Angels (1930)

Passed | 127 min | Drama, War

Brothers Monte and Ray leave Oxford to join the Royal Flying Corps. Ray loves Helen; Helen enjoys an affair with Monte; before they leave on their mission over Germany they find her in still another man's arms.

Directors: Howard Hughes, Edmund Goulding, James Whale | Stars: Ben Lyon, James Hall, Jean Harlow, John Darrow

Votes: 4,545