Meet John Doe (1941) on IMDb

Frank Capra directed Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck in this classic, ranked #49 in AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Cheers list of inspiring films.

Stanwyck plays a newspaper columnist who prints a letter from an imaginary “John Doe” who writes “the whole world’s going to pot, so in protest I’m going to commit suicide by jumping off the City Hall roof.” When the column becomes a hit, she has to find someone (Cooper of course) to stand in for Doe. Capra’s earnest populism and smart characterizations push Meet John Doe to the 29th position in the Internet Archive Top 100.

 My Favorite Brunette (1947) on IMDb

There’s a good amount of film noir in the Internet Archive Top 100, but I think this is the only film noir parody. The story is told in flashback as Bob Hope, as a baby photographer, relates how he was caught up in a world of mistaken identity and subterfuge. Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney provide the humorous menace, and with Dorothy Lamour as the love interest, you might be able to guess who appears in a cameo.

The IMDb’s users don’t give comedies the high rankings they give more serious films. Adjusted for that, plus Leonard Maltin’s endorsement, it’s enough to keep this fun movie in the top 30.

 Love Affair (1939) on IMDb

A painter meets a young American woman on a ship bound for New York. This isn’t Titanic, but Love Affair definitely steers towards romance. Charles Boyer plays the French painter who, ducking notoriety, promises to meet Irene Dunne six months after they disembark. As you might guess, plenty of stuff happens in those six months.

Leonard Maltin gave this movie 3½ (of 4) stars, and you can see the high IMDb user rating above. Boyer and Dunne’s chemistry make this drama with a touch of comedy better than most, even in the Internet Archive Top 100.

 The Flying Deuces (1939) on IMDb

I hope this won’t spoil your enjoyment of the rest of this list, but The Flying Deuces is the only Laurel and Hardy movie in the Internet Archive Top 100. Its fast pace and “Shine On Harvest Moon” dance number make it an excellent representative for the boys’ talents.

Ollie suffers a broken romance and joins the French Foreign Legion to forget. Stan comes along, of course. And of course the boys have no idea of the rough business they’ve just volunteered for. It’s a wonderful comedy, and I’m grateful that there’s at least one L&H in the IA.

 Oh, Mr. Porter! (1937) on IMDb

Will Hay was very big in the UK in 1937, and Oh, Mr. Porter! is a good example why. Instead of his usual schoolmaster roles, here he plays a stationmaster in Northern Ireland on the border with Ireland. He renovates the station, then gets involved with gunrunners posing as ghosts.

The British Film Institute included this movie in its 360 Classic Feature Films list. TV Cream, a British nostalgia web site, listed it at number 41 of cinema’s Top 100 Films. Leonard Maltin gave it 3½ stars, which is one reason why it’s 33 in the Internet Archive Top 100.