Printable Version of Topic

Click here to view this topic in its original format

Dismuke's Message Board _ 1900 - 1940 General Topics _ Movies & TV Shows Set in the '20s and '30s

Posted by: Victor C. Brunswick Aug 20 2006, 07:02 AM

What are some of your favorite movies and TV shows that's set in the 1920s and 30s?

My Favorites are:

--Thoroughly Modern Millie(1969) -- I especially like the opening credits sequence featuring the title song.
--Eight Men Out(1988) -- About the 1919 Black Sox scandal. It does a superb job of capturing the look of the era.
--Zelig(1983) -- I'm not a big Woody Allen fan but I particularly enjoyed the editing where they inserted the Woody Allen character into actual photos and footage from the 1920s and 30s and the movie's documentary-style treatment. Also Mae Questal who was the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl in the old Fleischer cartoons can be heard doing a song called "Do the Chameleon"
--The Front Page(1974)
--The Sting(1973) -- A veritable classic! I remember my parents taking me to see the movie in the theatre when it came out. The movie was also instrumental in reviving interest in ragtime music.
--Pennies From Heaven -- I like both the original 1978 mini-series that featured Bob Hoskins and the 1981 Steve Martin movie
--Bugsy Malone(1974 or 75) -- This quirky take off of the old gangster movies had an all child cast which included an unknown Scott Baio in the title role as well as Jodie Foster. Everything in the movie; the costumes, sets, vehicles, etc. were all scaled down to kid size. I also seem to recall that the mini-hoods in the film were armed with "splurge guns" that looked like Tommy guns but fired some sort of custard goop mixture. (I'd love to be able to find one of the splurge guns from the movie!)
The Untouchables(1987) -- Though the movie, in typical Hollywood fashion played fast and loose with the history, Sean Connery's famous line about doing things the "Chicago Way" is classic

TV Shows:
--The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles -- I especially liked the Al Capone episode and the one where Young Indy gets a summer job as a stage manager of George White Scandals of 1920
--Bernice Bobs Her Hair(1978?) -- this was an episode, based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald story, from the American Short Story series that I believe ran on PBS -- it featured Shelley Duvall, Brad Dourif and Polly Holliday (from TV's Alice) -- it also had some great music too!
--You're the Cream in My Coffee(1980) -- A British TV movie written by Dennis Potter (Pennies from Heaven) -- features some great 1930s dance band music.

Posted by: Ed Murphy Aug 20 2006, 10:37 AM

I agree Buggsy Malone is a "sleeper", the music is great as well as the entire idea. As for favorites of the 20s and 30s I think any of the Zigfield movies and Broadway Melodies are great and of course all the Fred Astaire, Ginger Rodgers movie music. The Busby Berkley productions are also clasic. ed murphy wink.gif

Posted by: Aaron2006 Aug 20 2006, 06:40 PM

Another Great Movie set in the 1920's is


A great TV show set in the 1930's would be

And in my favourite episode of the Twilight Zone, it is set in 1927.

Posted by: Fredrik Aug 21 2006, 06:49 PM

Speaking of Woody Allen I love his "The Purple Rose Of Cairo", set in the early 1930s.

He's also made "Bullets Over Broadway" which is set in the 1920s and features a nice soundtrack.


Posted by: Victor C. Brunswick Aug 21 2006, 07:41 PM

The Purple Rose of Cairo was one of Jeff Daniels' first starring roles. In the movie Ragtime (1981), which is set around 1910, an unknown Jeff Daniels had a bit part as the policeman whose help Howard E. Rollins, Jr. (TV's In the Heat of the Night) unsuccessfully tries to enlist when Rollins's car is trashed by bigoted firemen from a nearby firehouse. An unknown Fran Drescher was also in the movie but I don't know what her role was.

Another movie I forgot to mention is Footlight Parade (1933) one of my favorite of all of Busby Berkley's movies. The song By A Waterfall was featured in that film and my favorite scene is the Shanghai Lil number which has a somewhat funny moment where James Cagney is looking for Ruby Keeler in a seedy waterfront dive populated by various colorful characters. One of them, an Asian guy dressed as a merchant seaman, drawls, "Nahhhh, ain't seen Shanghai Lil" in the most perfect B-movie tough-guy voice.

And speaking of unknowns and Busby Berkely. An unknown Lucille Ball actually did a nude scene in Roman Scandals (1933).

Posted by: Victor C. Brunswick Aug 21 2006, 07:47 PM

Oops! I had double posted.

Posted by: Ed Vasicek Sep 6 2006, 02:46 AM

I was a real young kid (maybe 5 yers old, so perhaps 1961 or 62), but I remember a show called, "The Roaring Twenties;" we used to watch for the old vintage movie of a car jumping over a building onto a few bales of hay.

Does anybody else remember that? I think Dinah Shore was either in the show or had a show before or after it.

And then I remember another 20's setting short-lived gangster comedy called, "The Chicago Teddy Bears" from about 1969 or 70. It starred the guy who played Sargeant Schultz on Hogan's Heroes. It only lasted one season (if that).

Am I alone with my memories?

Posted by: gregoryagogo Sep 6 2006, 08:02 PM

I liked "Good News" Starring June Allison, and Peter Lawford...


Posted by: Protose Vegetable Meat Sep 9 2006, 02:05 AM

Maybe it's just because it's my favorite era, or maybe it's because it gives creative people such a temptation to indulge in easy archetypes, but I think the '30s are actually the most difficult to get right in a period drama. The British do it best, probably because they don't feel compelled to turn it all into one big dustbowl or one big Busby Berkeley.

Powered by Invision Power Board (
© Invision Power Services (