It is time to begin another annual consideration of the best movies and performances. In order to move this project along and finish before 2019, it is necessary to condense the list a bit. Numbers 6 through 10 of my choices for the best pictures of 1936 are below. The top five will be coming later, along with best acting categories and the always challenging, sometimes controversial most overrated movie of the year.
6. The Only Son (Japan, Yasujio Ozu)
One of Ozu’s best about a mother who sacrifices everything for her son’s education only to be disappointed by his low level job.
7. Mayerling (France, Anatole Litvak)
If you know anything about royal scandals in European history, you probably know how this one turns out. If not, this tragic tale of love between a disillusioned young prince (Charles Boyer) and a naïve young girl (Danielle Darrieux) in the Viennese court of the 19th century is sure to impress.
8. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (U.S., Frank Capra)
I love that Gary Cooper’s rube who inherits a fortune doesn’t turn out to be a total dingbat, the way the Clampetts in The Beverly Hillbillies were. But his smarts can’t prepare him for all the dirty tricks waiting for him.
9. The Crime of M. Lange (France, Jean Renoir)
Trust me. You’d have killed the guy too.
10. The Charge of the Light Brigade (U.S., Michael Curtiz)
Loosely based on the Tennyson poem and historical events, this Errol Flynn-Olivia de Haviland picture is a gripping account of a colonial massacre in India, followed by a single-minded lust for revenge even in the face of almost certain death.
Next up: Best Supporting Actor of 1936