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, nor in the IA Top 100. 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.
The Internet Archive’s Feature Film collection includes a lot of relatively short westerns from the first couple of decades of talking pictures. Winning the West, also known as The Light of Western Stars, is the best-rated of that multitude, so it’s the lone representative in the IA Top 100.
Richard Arlen stars as an embittered ranch foreman who wants revenge against the bad guys who killed his buddy. The dead buddy’s wife arrives to take over the ranch, Arlen makes a bad first impression, and everything sorts itself out quickly, since the movie is less than 70 minutes long. If you like this one, there are hundreds more from the genre available in the same place.