Lost Horizon (1937)

Set on the brink of WWII, this story follows 5 foreigners caught up in the civil unrest of China, who make it out with their lives on the last plane. Only to find themselves kidnapped and eventually crashing in a remote mountain region deep in the Himalayas. There they’re saved by a mysterious people who live in a fertile mountain valley called Shangri-La. Ronald Colman stars as a decorated writer, soldier and diplomat who may have just discovered a place where he can finally have peace.

Directed by Frank Capra, in a departure from his normal midwest small town setting. It still delves deep into personal drama as well as lofty and simple ideas of peace and goodwill towards our fellow man.  Dimitri Tiomkins’ ethereal and sweeping score perfectly matches the mystery and epic power of this timeless tale.

2hr. 12min.

Romance in Manhattan (1935)

When immigrant Karel Novak (Francis Lederer) arrives in New York he’s filled with optimism for his new life, but a change in rules is going to have him sent back home.  Acting on impulse he literally jumps ship and makes it back to the city.  With no money and nowhere to go, he runs into chorus girl Sylvia (Ginger Rogers) who decides to help him.  Sylvia, her brother and Karel are able to make something of a family together as they struggle to survive in this little gem.

1hr. 17min.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The classic tale of a girl named Dorothy (Judy Garland) who gets caught in a twister and whisked away to the magical land of Oz. There she meets Munchkins, talking trees and flying monkeys. She also runs afoul of and must outwit the evil Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton).  All while trying to find her way home.

This film also features the Acadamy Award winning song Somewhere Over the Rainbow, that would become Garlands’ signature song.

1hr. 41min.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

David O Selznick produced this sweeping epic, which spans twelve years in the life of a spoiled, clever and beautiful southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara, played to perfection by Vivian Leigh.  The story begins during the heyday of the plantation owners in the Deep South, continues through the horrors of the civil war and concludes with the rebuilding of more than homes during the post war era. Clark Gable also stars as the rogue and hero, Rhett Butler.

This film swept the oscars that year, winning eight academy awards. It was the first film to do so.

3hrs. 45min.

The Amazing Adventure (1939)

In probably one of the first “Cinderella stories in reverse”, Cary Grant stars as a rich young man who can’t seem to be able to figure out what’s wrong with himself lately. A wise doctor prescribes work and (after an altercation over it) Grant bets him that he can go out and earn his own living, like anybody else for a year. He sets out on his own and through his struggles is shown kindness from unexpected sources.

1hr. 3min.

Made for Each Other (1939)

Jimmy Stewart and Carol Lombard star in this touching drama, that tells the story of the first year of a couple’s marriage.  A whirlwind courtship starts things off as the couple must then contend with the grooms crotchety mother, the birth of a son and trouble at work.  Things come to the breaking point on New Years Eve, then a near tragedy just might bring them all together.

Most popular with her screwball comedies, Lombard proves here that she could handle drama as well.

1hr. 34min.

 

Bachelor Mother (1939)

Ginger Rogers and David Niven star in this “comedy of errors”.  Recently unemployed Polly Parrish (Rogers) is mistakenly believed to have abandoned a baby (because of being let go from her job).  There’s a simple explanation (of course) but nobody believes her.  Things get more complicated when the son (Niven) of her boss is suspected of being the father.  It’s one hilarious complication after another in this ultimately touching comedy.

1hr. 31min.

City Lights (1931)

Charlie Chaplin directed, wrote the story as well as the musical score and stars in this touching film.  Very effective in it’s silence, this film tells the story of ‘the Little Tramp’ (Chaplin), who falls in love with a blind flower girl and is determined to do whatever it takes to get the money for the operation that will restore her sight.

The ending is considered by many to be the most touching in cinematic history.

1hr. 31min.

 

If I were King (1938)

Ronald Coleman stars as the poet/rascal/Robin Hood of Paris, Francois Villon, who get’s caught up in some medieval intrigue, when he utters the title line “If I were king” to (unbeknownst to him at the time) King Louis XI (Basil Rathbone).  He get’s his wish, and seven days of royal splendor, in which time he woos the queen’s lady-in-waiting (Frances Dee), and tries to save the besieged city of Paris.

Preston Sturges adapted the screenplay from the play of the same name.

1hr. 43min.

Carefree (1938)

Fred Astaire stars as Tony, a psychiatrist who longs for a patient with “real problems”.  Into his office comes Amanda (Ginger Rogers) who is brought there because she keeps cancelling her wedding.  There is an instant attraction that Tony doesn’t feel is professional, not so for Amanda who pursues him with a will.  She even goes so far as to invent more neurosis for him to treat.  Things get more wacky and hilarious as it culminates with Tony hypnotizing Amanda (to help her get over him) and her leaving his office before he can bring her out of it!

1hr. 23min.