The Best Film The Year You Were Born! (1931-1971)
Before I set out to become a writer, I lived in the world of cinematography. I attended film history and theory classes and even worked on a few simple student films. A huge part of my life revolved around the film world, and I collected a massive library of favorites from across the decades, but soon found that I adored early films beyond most any others.
From the 1920s to the 1970s, a great change took place in the landscape of American society and in the development of film. They mirrored and affected one another, as the growing popularity of the medium, the impact of World War 2, and a wildly unsteady social landscape all collided on the silver screen.
I’ve set out to capture the best films from 1931 to 2021 in two massive articles, thereby chronicling life from the so-called “Silent Generation”, through the “Baby Boomers”, on to Generation X and the Millennial, and finally into the future of “iGen” and “Generation Alpha”. Cinema is a remarkable medium for exploring what mattered to people at a specific time, and for understanding the state of the world in an intimate, visceral way. It’s also an important vehicle for change, capable of enriching minds and shifting public discourse away from, or toward, vital topics not otherwise yet within the mainstream.
In this piece, I set out to capture the great landscape of films from the rise of the dominance of sound films (or “talkies”) out of the silent era, and into bold and transgressive films rising through the 1960s until 1971. This was an era of stark transitions in lifestyle and thought, in worldview and globalization; it was a time of great deeds and miserable follies, of horrors incomprehensible and hope springing eternal. It was the best of times… it was the worst of times, and out of this strange milieu our modern world was born.
I’ve assembled a list of the greatest comedies, dramas, horror classics, science fiction greats, and musical spectaculars of the age, films that would set the stage for everything to come. Check this out, dive on in, watch some of these amazing films… and when you’re done, check out part two for all the greatest films between 1971 and 2021 as well.