The Dawn Patrol (1938) on IMDb

Imagine Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone and David Niven working together – can you imagine any three more dashing British* heroes? The Dawn Patrol was the only movie where they portrayed comrades, in this case Royal Flying Corps fighter pilots in World War I.

This was a remake of a 1930 film of the same name, and was co-written by Seton Miller, the original’s screenwriter. It also reused some of the aerial footage of the first movie. But its better-developed characters, action and star power make this version the one that landed on the Internet Archive Top 100.

*Flynn was born in Australia, but he was educated in England and seems pretty darned British to me.


 Our Town (1940) on IMDb

Our Town, an adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. It’s set in the fictional town of Grover’s Corners NH in the pre-World War I period of the 20th century and follows its residents as they grow up, get married, live, and die.

William Holden starred in one of the first lead roles of his long career, but many of the other parts were filled by the actors who originated them on Broadway, including Martha Scott who was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. Aaron Copland was nominated for Best Musical Score. All those awards and star power was enough to land it this high on the Internet Archive Top 100.


 The 39 Steps (1935) on IMDb

It’s time for another Alfred Hitchcock entry in the Internet Archive Top 100. It’s got the usual plot of a bystander swept into a world of mystery and intrigue, but with a bit more humor and romance than some of Hitchcock’s other work.

In his cameo this time, Hitchcock tosses a bit of litter in the foreground around the 6:35 mark. This was one of his favorite movies, and in 1999, the British Film Institute ranked it the fourth best British film of the 20th century, behind The Third Man, Brief Encounter, and Lawrence of Arabia.

 The Stars Look Down (1940) on IMDb

Leonard Maltin gave a full 4 stars to this British classic, an adaptation of A.J. Cronin’s novel. The Stars Look Down is about Welsh coal miners fighting dangerous working conditions and the destruction of one man’s life at the hands of a woman.

We’ll see this movie’s stars, Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood, together again in a movie ranked even higher in the Internet Archive Top 100.

 D.O.A. (1949) on IMDb

D.O.A. is a true film noir classic. From its first scene, with star Edmund O’Brien walking through the hallway of a police station to report his own murder, its fast pace and slowly unraveling mysteries keep the viewer on the edge of his seat. It’s the movie I remember when anyone says a notary’s job is dull.

In 2004, D.O.A. was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Leonard Maltin gave this gem 3½ (of 4) stars. It’s a great way to start the Top 20 countdown in the Internet Archive Top 100.