Best Movie Genres The Best Pre-Code Movies  

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1.2k votes 144 voters 18.1k views 136 items

List Rules Vote for your personal favorite Pre-code films, regardless of how popular or successful they were at the box office.

A list of all the best pre-code movies ever made, many of which are streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime. This pre-code movie list can be sorted by cast, year, director and more. This list of pre-code films also contains pre-code movie titles that can be clicked on for more information about the film. This pre-code films list can also be copied to start your own. This list, though, contains the best pre-code movies of all time, as voted on by fans of the films This pre-code movie list can be sorted by alphabetically, by director, by year and more, but is currently ordered from best to worst. Help out your favorites on this list by upvoting them to the top of the list.

List of pre-code films includes pre-code movie titles that can be clicked on for more information about the film. Make this list even more social by re-ranking it to fit your opinions, making it votable then sharing it with your friends on social networks.

These are the top films in the pre-code genre, meaning that each and every one of these is a movie with at least a single element of the pre-code genre in it. Be it the motifs of the pre-code genre or just some of the most common archetypes.

Be sure to thums up movies like The Gay Divorcee or Hold Your Man if you like them. If we missed any pre-code movies on this list, please add them to the list yourself, as this is an open list which means you can add any movies whenever you like (choices are subject to moderation). The films on this list cover the most famous pre-code movies of all time and are voted on by people who really care about pre-code movie lists.
You can find the release information for any of the films listed below. It's often available in the data set, so you can even find the cast of some of these by clicking on the names of the pre-code movies. List includes photos and pre-code movie trailers next to the names of the movies.

List features Wonder Bar, The Wet Parade and more movies.

Whether you're at home and want to watch these pre-code movies on DVD, streaming Blu-ray or streaming, or if you're seeing them in theatres for the first time, this is a list of good pre-code movies that can be helpful in either situation to see where they all stack up. So from the latest, to the greatest pre-code movies, here is the full pre-code movies list, ordered from best to worst.

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Footlight Parade James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Dorothy Lamour Footlight Parade is a 1933 American musical film starring James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell and featuring Frank McHugh, Guy Kibbee, Hugh Herbert and Ruth Donnelly. The ...more

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Fashions of 1934 Bette Davis, William Powell, Reginald Owen Fashions of 1934 is a 1934 Pre-Code American musical comedy film directed by William Dieterle with musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. The screenplay by F. Hugh Herbert and ...more

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Gold Diggers of 1933 Ginger Rogers, Joan Blondell, Billy Barty Gold Diggers of 1933 is a pre-code Warner Bros. musical film directed by Mervyn LeRoy with songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, staged and choreographed by Busby Berkeley. It stars Warren ...more

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Gold Diggers of Broadway George Raft, Nick Lucas, Winnie Lightner Gold Diggers of Broadway is a 1929 Warner Bros. comedy/musical film which is historically important as the second two-strip Technicolor all-talking feature length movie. Gold Diggers of Broadway ...more

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Bombshell Jean Harlow, Frank Morgan, Franchot Tone Bombshell is a 1933 American Pre-Code romantic comedy-drama film directed by Victor Fleming and starring Jean Harlow, Lee Tracy, Frank Morgan, C. Aubrey Smith, Mary Forbes and Franchot Tone. The ...more

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Platinum Blonde Jean Harlow, Loretta Young, Halliwell Hobbes Platinum Blonde is a 1931 American romantic comedy motion picture starring Jean Harlow, Robert Williams, and Loretta Young. The film was written by Jo Swerling and directed by Frank Capra. ...more

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The Maltese Falcon Thelma Todd, William Dieterle, Bebe Daniels The Maltese Falcon is an American pre-code crime film, based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett and directed by Roy Del Ruth. The film stars Ricardo Cortez as private detective ...more

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42nd Street Ginger Rogers, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler 42nd Street is a 1933 American Warner Bros. musical film directed by Lloyd Bacon with choreography by Busby Berkeley. The songs were written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, and the script was ...more

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The Love Parade Jean Harlow, Jeanette MacDonald, Maurice Chevalier The Love Parade is a 1929 musical comedy film about the marital difficulties of Queen Louise of Sylvania and her consort, Count Alfred Renard. Despite his love for Louise and his promise to be ...more

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It Happened One Night Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Ward Bond It Happened One Night is a 1934 American romantic comedy film with elements of screwball comedy directed by Frank Capra, in which a pampered socialite tries to get out from under her father's ...more

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Baby Face John Wayne, Barbara Stanwyck, Margaret Lindsay Baby Face is a 1933 American dramatic film directed by Alfred E. Green, and starring Barbara Stanwyck and George Brent. Based on a story by Darryl F. Zanuck, this sexually charged, Pre-Code ...more

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King Kong Fay Wray, Merian C. Cooper, Bruce Cabot King Kong is a 1933 American fantasy monster/adventure film directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose was from an ...more

The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

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The Public Enemy Jean Harlow, James Cagney, Joan Blondell The Public Enemy is a 1931 American all-talking pre-code crime film produced and distributed by Warner Brothers. The film was directed by William A. Wellman and stars James Cagney, Jean Harlow, ...more

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Grand Hotel Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, John Barrymore Grand Hotel is a 1932 American drama film directed by Edmund Goulding. The screenplay by William A. Drake is based on the 1930 play of the same title by Drake, who had adapted it from the 1929 ...more

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Freaks Wallace Ford, Edward Brophy, Roscoe Ates Freaks is a 1932 American horror film in which the eponymous characters were played by people who worked as carnival sideshow performers and had real deformities. The original version was ...more

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Red Dust Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Maggie Cheung Red Dust is a 1932 American romantic drama film directed by Victor Fleming and starring Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and Mary Astor. The film is based on the 1928 play of the same name by Wilson ...more

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Duck Soup Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx Duck Soup is a 1933 Marx Brothers anarchic comedy film written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, with additional dialogue by Arthur Sheekman and Nat Perrin, and directed by Leo McCarey. First ...more

The Worst Movies Of All Time

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Dracula Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning, Carla Laemmle Dracula is a 1931 vampire-horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. The film was produced by Universal and is based on the 1924 stage play Dracula by ...more

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Little Caesar Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Little Caesar is a 1931 Warner Bros. Pre-Code crime film that tells the story of a hoodlum who ascends the ranks of organized crime until he reaches its upper echelons. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy ...more

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Three on a Match Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Joan Blondell Three on a Match is a 1932 American pre-Code crime drama released by Warner Bros. The film was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and stars Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak and Bette Davis. The film also ...more

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Of Human Bondage Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Reginald Denny Of Human Bondage is a 1934 American drama film directed by John Cromwell and is widely regarded by critics as the film that made Bette Davis a star. The screenplay by Lester Cohen is based on ...more

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A Free Soul Clark Gable, Norma Shearer, Lionel Barrymore A Free Soul is a 1931 Pre-Code film which tells the story of an alcoholic defense attorney who must defend his daughter's ex-boyfriend on a charge of murdering the mobster she had started a ...more

The Best Dance Movies Ever Made

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Red-Headed Woman Jean Harlow, Charles Boyer, Lewis Stone Red-Headed Woman is a 1932 American romantic comedy film, produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, based on a novel of the same name by Katherine Brush, and with a screenplay by Anita Loos. It was ...more

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The Divorcee Norma Shearer, Ethel Barrymore, Robert Montgomery The Divorcee is a 1930 American Pre-Code drama film written by Nick Grindé, John Meehan and Zelda Sears, based on the novel Ex-Wife by Ursula Parrott. It was directed by Robert Z. ...more

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I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Preston Foster I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is an American Pre-Code crime/drama film starring Paul Muni as a wrongfully convicted convict on a chain gang who escapes to Chicago. The film was written by ...more

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Night Nurse Clark Gable, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Blondell Night Nurse is a 1931 American pre-code crime drama and mystery film produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and directed by William A. Wellman. The film stars Barbara Stanwyck, Ben Lyon, Joan ...more

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Animal Crackers Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx Animal Crackers is a 1930 Marx Brothers comedy film, in which mayhem and zaniness ensue when a valuable painting goes missing during a party in honor of famed African explorer Captain Spaulding. ...more

The Best Movies of All Time

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Tom Webb added Heroes for Sale Loretta Young, Richard Barthelmess, Aline MacMahon Heroes for Sale is a Depression-era film directed by William Wellman, starring Richard Barthelmess, Aline MacMahon, and Loretta Young, and released by Warner Bros. and First National Pictures. ...more

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Ladies They Talk About Barbara Stanwyck, Lillian Roth, Preston Foster Ladies They Talk About is a 1933 Pre-Code American crime drama directed by Howard Bretherton and William Keighley, and starring Barbara Stanwyck, Preston Foster, and Lyle Talbot. Based on the ...more

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Cleopatra Claudette Colbert, Joseph Schildkraut, Warren William Cleopatra is a 1934 epic film directed by Cecil B. DeMille and distributed by Paramount Pictures, which retells the story of Cleopatra VII of Egypt. It was written by Waldemar Young, Vincent ...more

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The Smiling Lieutenant Claudette Colbert, Maurice Chevalier, Charlie Ruggles The Smiling Lieutenant is an American film directed by Ernst Lubitsch, starring Maurice Chevalier and Claudette Colbert, and released by Paramount Pictures. Made in the Pre-Code era, it was ...more

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The Sign of the Cross Charles Laughton, Claudette Colbert, Fredric March The Sign of the Cross is a pre-Code epic film released by Paramount Pictures, produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille from a screenplay by Waldemar Young and Sidney Buchman, and based on the ...more

New Movie Trailers 2012

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The Mummy Boris Karloff, Edward Van Sloan, Noble Johnson The Mummy is a 1932 horror film from Universal Studios directed by Karl Freund and stars Boris Karloff as a revived ancient Egyptian priest. The movie also features Zita Johann, David Manners ...more

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Scarface Jean Harlow, Boris Karloff, Paul Muni Scarface is a 1932 American gangster film starring Paul Muni, produced by Howard Hughes and Howard Hawks, directed by Hawks and Richard Rosson, and based on Armitage Trail's 1929 novel of the ...more

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Trouble in Paradise Herbert Marshall, Charlie Ruggles, Miriam Hopkins Trouble in Paradise is a 1932 American pre-Code romantic comedy film directed by Ernst Lubitsch, starring Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, and Herbert Marshall and featuring Charles Ruggles and ...more

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All Quiet on the Western Front Fred Zinnemann, Lew Ayres, ZaSu Pitts All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 American epic war film based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel of the same name. It was directed by Lewis Milestone, and stars Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, ...more

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Tom Webb added Frankenstein Boris Karloff, John Boles, Colin Clive Frankenstein is a 1931 horror monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling, which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by ...more

The Most Anticipated 2012 Films

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Doctor X Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill, Lee Tracy Doctor X is a First National/Warner Bros. horror and mystery film. Based on the play originally titled The Terror by Howard W. Comstock and Allen C. Miller. It was directed by Michael Curtiz and ...more

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Shanghai Express Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong, Eugene Pallette Shanghai Express is a 1932 American film directed by Josef von Sternberg. The pre-Code picture stars Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong, and Warner Oland. It was written by Jules ...more

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Fredric March, Wallace Beery, Miriam Hopkins Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1931 American Pre-Code horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, ...more

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Tom Webb added Dinner at Eight Jean Harlow, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore Dinner at Eight is a Pre-Code 1933 comedy of manners / drama starring Marie Dressler, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore, Lee Tracy, Edmund Lowe, and Billie Burke, and ...more

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Tom Webb added Employees' Entrance Loretta Young, Warren William, Wallace Ford Employees' Entrance is a 1933 Pre-Code film about the manager of a New York department store and an employee.

The Greatest Movie Villains of All Time

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She Done Him Wrong Cary Grant, Mae West, Rochelle Hudson She Done Him Wrong is a Pre-Code 1933 Paramount Pictures comedy romance starring Mae West and Cary Grant. Its plot includes melodramatic and musical elements. The supporting cast features Owen ...more

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Tarzan the Ape Man Maureen O'Sullivan, Johnny Weissmuller, C. Aubrey Smith Tarzan the Ape Man is a 1932 pre-Code American action adventure film featuring Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous jungle hero Tarzan and starring Johnny Weissmuller, Neil Hamilton, C. Aubrey Smith and ...more

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Dames Joan Blondell, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler Dames is a 1934 Warner Bros. musical comedy film directed by Ray Enright with dance numbers created by Busby Berkeley. The film stars Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, Guy Kibbee, ZaSu ...more

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Men in White Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Otto Kruger Men in White is a Pre-Code film starring Clark Gable and Myrna Loy, and directed by Ryszard Bolesławski. Because of the suggested illicit romance and the suggested abortion in the movie, it was ...more

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Manhattan Melodrama Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, William Powell Manhattan Melodrama is a 1934 crime melodrama film, produced by MGM, directed by W. S. Van Dyke, and starring Clark Gable, William Powell, and Myrna Loy. The movie also provided one of the ...more

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Mystery of the Wax Museum Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill, Glenda Farrell Mystery of the Wax Museum is a 1933 American mystery horror-thriller film released by Warner Bros. in two-color Technicolor and directed by Michael Curtiz. The film stars Lionel Atwill, Fay ...more

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Female Humphrey Bogart, Johnny Mack Brown, Ruth Chatterton Female is a 1933 Warner Bros. pre-code film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Ruth Chatterton and George Brent. It is based on the novel of the same name by Donald Henderson Clarke.

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The Most Dangerous Game Fay Wray, Joel McCrea, Buster Crabbe The Most Dangerous Game is a 1932 Pre-Code adaptation of the 1924 short story of the same name by Richard Connell, the first film version of that story. The plot concerns a big game hunter on an ...more