Favourite pre-1930s film?

What’s your favourite pre-1930 film?

  • The Big Parade
  • Metropolis
  • Safety Last
  • The Man With a Movie Camera
  • Greed
  • Napoleon
  • Nosferatu
  • The Wheel
  • The Gold Rush
  • The General
  • Broken Blossoms
  • Way Down East
  • The Crowd
  • The Cabinet of Dr Caligari
  • Battleship Potemkin
  • Dr Mabuse
  • The Passion of Jean of Arc
  • Intolerance
  • Birth of a Nation
  • Sunrise
  • The Jazz Singer
  • Un Chien Andalou
  • Sherlock Jr
  • Nanook of the North
  • Haxan
  • The Last Laugh
  • Blackmail
  • Pandora’s Box
  • The Smiling Madame Beudet
  • Foolish Wives

0 voters

I like these favourite film of the decade polls. Thought I might fill in some gaps.

So what’s your favourite film of the 10s and 20s? (I left out the earlier decades, as I doubt many people these days find such classics as ‘Train Pulling into a Station’ as thrilling as they did 110 years ago).

I think I’ll go for Man With a Movie Camera - the version with the Alloy Orchestra soundtrack is great.


Metropolis. It’s the only pre 30’s movie I’ve seen in its entirety and it is surprisingly quite good.

So many great films. I don’t know which I’d pick.

I’ve seen Metropolis the most of those. When I was in high school the local cable TV ran it frequently on its movie channel. I’ve never gotten tired of it.

Nice to see Way Down East on the list. I saw that nearly twenty years ago on the big screen in a grand old theater (the Castro, in San Francisco) with a live organist. It was one of my life’s great movie experiences. Everyone should have the chance to see something like that under similar conditions.

Around the same year I wrote a poem about Man with a Camera. :beatnik: But I’ll spare everyone the recitation.

I really like CT Dreyer, and believe it or not I’ve seen The Passion of Joan of Arc a handful of times. What can I say, the guy obviously was a visual artist and it shows.

I also like his Vampyr; the scene where the hero appears to be dreaming that he’s being levitated in a coffin to the undead has real staying power (at least for me). I say “appears to be” because although the images are riveting the plot ain’t.*

*–And here’s probably why: the film’s distributors were apparently empowered to edit, including the right to add narration. This probably belongs over in your “30s movies” thead, but apparently somebody has posted a 73 minute version of Vampyr on Youtube. I haven’t watched it yet, but I bet it’s the kind of cut that drove Dreyer out of film and into depression.

EDIT: Ok, I let the Youtube file load and watched some of it. The scene I mentioned above begins, roughly, at 55 minutes in and runs for about 7.5 minutes. The quality ain’t that great, unfortunately. The DVD is much better.

The uncut version is something like 13 hours long.

I once saw Chaplin’s Gold Rush on a Japanese TV station … with Japanese narration. Lots of it. Talking and talking and talking, though I have no idea about what. Apparently that’s a tradition in Japan.

I saw Gold Rush in the Wellington Town Hall with the NZ Symphony Orchestra. It was cool.

Yeah, the Benshi were the MCs of Japanese silent film. I think Kurosawa’s brother was a benshi. There were native Taiwanese benshi too, who I presume spoke Taiwanese.


Any film by Fritz Lang

With all due respect to Metropolis, Modern Times and The General, Nosferatu gets my vote.

Max Schreck was simply terrifying.

I’d have to say “Metropolis” too, for sheer imaginativeness.

Some great genre fiction with “The Lost World”, “The Man Who Laughs” (maybe inspired Batman’s Joker character!), and “The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu,” which alerted the world to the danger posed by those devious Chinamen.

The movie that most needs to be remade is “Godless Girl.” Oh yeah, and “The Student Prince,” but I’d rather see a campy version of the later musical.

Potemkin. epic.

Nosferatu is pretty good too.

surprised you don’t have Ned Kelly on the list: the first feature length film ever, apparently… 1897 or something.

i almost picked Un Chien Andalou: reminded me a lot of Lynch’s classic Eraserhead… probably styled on it. see here. another good one from that period of surrealist films was L’Age d’Or. which sounds a bit like Large Door, but isn’t. very funny chaotic banquet hall scene.

I liked metropolis, but only saw a short version… apparently people have just found a much more complete version somewhere (Europe? Argentina?) just a couple of months ago that has much better balance and editing.

You’d have to have a pretty long memory. Only fragments have survived. (1907 - with 17mins surviving apparently). I think the first surviving feature length film is Birth of a Nation.

"mate, the moving pictures house was absolutely jam-packed when i saw it. then the great war came and that print was lost en route to gallipoli. "

thanks for the clarification.