TEN BEST PERFORMANCES OF THE 1930S

My favorite performance of the decade is noted below in the first position; my nine other favorites are thereafter listed in alphabetical order by the actor’s last name.

1. As Marguerite Gautier, the Lady of the Camellias, Greta Garbo in Camille (George Cukor, 1936) rises to the peak of her captivating beauty and talent, giving cinema’s greatest performance by a woman, and—along with Falconetti’s Jeanne d’Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928) and Per Oscarsson’s starving writer in Hunger (Henning Carlsen, 1966)—one of the three most brilliant performances in all of cinema. Grace, irony, gravity, timeless loveliness: Garbo is cinema’s most enchanting tragedienne—all in all, its greatest actress. “Garbo,” critic Andrew Sarris writes, “is and always has been her own mise-en-scène.”

2. Marlene Dietrich, Blonde Venus (Josef von Sternberg, 1032)

3. Harry Baur, Crime and Punishment (Pierre Chenal, 1935).

4. Charles Chaplin, City Lights (Chaplin, 1930).

5. Bette Davis, Jezebel (William Wyler, 1938).

6. Greta Garbo, Anna Karenina (Clarence Brown, 1935)

7. Marlene Dietrich, The Blue Angel (Josef von Sternberg, 1930).

8. Jean Gabin, Port of Shadows (Marcel Carné, 1938).

9. Chouko Iida, A Story of Floating Weeds (Yasujiro Ozu, 1934).

10. Fredric March, A Star Is Born (William A. Wellman, 1937).

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