Sunday, July 7, 2019


This is my choice (choices) for Best Picture for the year 1931.  My criteria is that I can only use films that are on the 1001 list. To make it a little easier on myself, I am using the rules of the first Academy Award and name a winner for Best Picture (won by Wings for 1927-1928) and Best and Unique and Artistic Picture (won by Sunrise from 1927-1928). 

So many classics from this year, but what holds up the best?

And the nominees on the entries from every edition of 1001 Movie You Must See Before You Die are...
City Lights
The Public Enemy
La Chienne
And the winner for the Best Picture of 1931 is…M

It's hard to go against Frankenstein, but....

Fritz Lang’s M is considered by many to be the greatest of movies to come out of Germany during the pre-Nazi era. It’s difficult for me to not look at the story of a serial child murderer without thinking how it foreshadows the ascension of the most prolific serial killer of the century.

The film works as a police procedural of sorts, though the audience knows who the killer is long before the authorities do. The great conflict in the film is the competition between the police trying to find the killer and those in the criminal underworld who want to find the murderer for their own reasons.

The “kangaroo court” scene where the child murder is put on trial by criminals is truly the highlight of the film.

And let us not forget Peter Lorre’s memorable defense of himself before this tribunal of criminals:

Do you all want to kill me?
You just want to wipe me out?
But you can’t murder me just like that!
I demand to be handed over to the police!
I demand to be brought before a real court of law!

M will most likely be playing soon at a college film class near you.

This film would have been a fit for either of these categories, so I'm already seeing potential issues with placing these films in the proper category as I progress.


And the Award for Unique and Artistic Picture of 1931 is...City Lights

City Lights

Charlie Chaplin wasn't just the most popular comic actor of his day, he was also a great artist. There are plenty of funny moments here, but City Lights may be best remembered for his poignancy and heart. It was also unique to Chaplin that he was able to make such a successful silent film so late after the advent of "talkies." Modern Times is still my favorite Chaplin, but City Lights gets my Artistic Picture Award for 1931.

City Lights


  1. Certainly my favorites as well! It's really lucky you have given yourself two choices because I could not have picked between them.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Some upcoming years presented some very difficult choices, even choosing two!

  3. I agree with you on your pick. Both are eligible in both categories.

  4. 1931 was a great year for the movies! I would have tried to give a spot to Dracula … but I can't decide if I would jettison M or City Lights, both of which I absolutely love!

  5. I like the Spanish version of Dracula filmed the same time as much as the Lugosi/Browning version.