History remembers the 1930s as a period of immense turmoil and economic strife, as the U.S. struggled through the Great Depression. But at the same time, the films of that period were wonderful -- from Fred Astaire's toe-tapping to Cary Grant's charm to Jimmy Stewart's visit to Washington.

Where did such great art come from? Was it pure escapism, a reflection of the times, or both? After listing our picks for the best '30s movies of all time, we turned to an expert -- Morris Dickstein, author of the '30s cultural history 'Dancing in the Dark' -- for his take on the films of the period, the importance of screwball comedies and his picks for the most enduring movies of the era ... not to mention the film we honored that he considers "not a good movie." (Ouch!)