This entry is odd is so many ways. The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep. Production on the French animated film stopped suddenly in 1948, and its producer released it unfinished without the approval of its director or writer. This English-language version was released in 1952 starring Peter Ustinov as the bird, who narrates the story. Decades later, its director Paul Grimault acquired the rights to the film and finished it for a 1980 release. And the copy in the Internet Archive Feature Films collection is strangely misnamed “1989 summer drum party”.
Wikipedia writes that this movie is today regarded as a masterpiece of French animation and has been cited by the Japanese directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata as an influence. I just think it’s a fun cartoon movie, and I’m glad that its IMDb rating was enough to get it into the IA Top 100.
Will Hay was a big deal in the UK in the 1930s. In 1937, when he made Good Morning, Boys, British film exhibitors voted him the 4th-best box office draw. His signature character was a jocular schoolmaster, and in this movie he brings his pupils to Paris where they outwit a gang of crooks.
I had never heard of this movie or Will Hay before I began compiling this list. Even Leonard Maltin failed to mention most Hay movies, including this one. Finding gold like this and sharing it with you is, for me, the best part of compiling the Internet Archive Top 100.
The movies of the East Side Kids and Bowery Boys illustrate a drawback to relying on IMDb rankings alone. The site’s users review only the movies they’ve seen, and once they’ve seen an East Side Kids movie or two, they know whether they want to see more. The enthusiastic supporters who like the group would have packed the Internet Archive Top 100 with several examples.
Tempered by Leonard Maltin’s ratings, it’s easier to list only the best-ranked East Side Kids movie, Clancy Street Boys. In this entry, Muggs recruits the rest of the gang to be his siblings so his visiting rich uncle will see the seven kids Muggs’ dad said he had. If you want to see more of Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall et al, the Archive has you covered.
There’s no shortage of Alfred Hitchcock movies in the Internet Archive’s Feature Films collection. In Sabotage, Sylvia Sidney stars as the unwitting accomplice to her husband, who meets with his gang of foreign saboteurs in his cinema in London. A Scotland Yard detective goes undercover in a shop next door.
It’s tough to spot Hitchcock’s cameo in this one. It comes early, when he looks up just after the lights come up in front of the theater. The cartoon excerpt in the cinema near the end of the movie was from Who Killed Cock Robin?, a Silly Symphony by Walt Disney Studios.
One of the best-represented, critically acclaimed genres in the Internet Archive’s Feature Films collection is film noir, and this is the first example on this list. (Or the last example, if you’re reading 1 to 100.) Franchot Tone plays LA detective Stuart Bailey, the same character who would be the hero of the 1958 TV series 77 Sunset Strip.
In I Love Trouble, Bailey is hired by a wealthy man to investigate his missing wife’s background. Bailey pulls at the threads of information until he gets tangled up in at least one murder. It’s noir, which means that no one can be trusted, and I’ll leave it at that. The quality of the print starts out rough but quickly improves enough to keep this movie in the IA Top 100.