Best Kay Francis Movies

Considered one of the top-earning actresses and most recognizable faces in Hollywood during the 1930s, Kay Francis enjoyed a decades-long career full of dynamic leading and supporting roles. Although she appeared in films from 1929 to 1946, her best work can be found in the pictures released in the 1930s.

To help moviegoers better appreciate this iconic star’s legacy, we’ve evaluated her performances and compiled a list of her ten greatest movies: a selection of captivating works that signify the apex of her considerable talent. Not only do these films serve as an ideal introduction to her oeuvre, but they provide insight into the strength and skill of one of Hollywood’s most formidable stars.

The Top 10 Best Kay Francis Movies of All Time, Ranked From Worst to Best

10. Give Me Your Heart (1936)

  • Genre: Romance / Drama
  • Starring: Kay Francis, George Brent, Roland Young
  • Directed by: Archie Mayo

Coming in at #10, we’ve got 1936’s Give Me Your Heart. Francis was one of the highest-paid actresses from 1930 to 1936 — so this movie comes towards her popularity’s descent. While this movie is nowhere near as great as some of the movies we’ll talk about later on in this list, it’s still a great watch and highly recommended for Francis fans.

Give Me Your Heart pairs Kay Francis and George Brent together, their fifth out of six pairings. This movie follows a socialite (Francis) who has an affair with a married man, though must give up the child she bore him because she is not married. While she moves on from this affair and marries a new man, she can’t quite let go of the man she loved and the child she let him take and raise. An interesting, dramatic romance that is quite engaging.

Related — The Most Popular Kay Francis Movies Today

9. I Found Stella Parish (1935)

  • Genre: Romance / Drama
  • Starring: Kay Francis, Ian Hunter, Paul Lukas
  • Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy

I Found Stella Parish is another one of the best Kay Francis movies of all time. While not perfect, and while it does fall flat in some areas, this movie is still enjoyable, especially if you love melodramas.

I Found Stella Parish follows an actress in London who becomes a huge success, only for a dark secret from her past to come back to haunt her. The actress (Francis) struggles to save her career, as well as her daughter, from this secret, and a newspaperman (Ian Hunter) believes her to be innocent and wants to help her as well.

8. Charley’s Aunt (1941)

  • Genre: Romance / Comedy
  • Starring: Jack Benny, Kay Francis, Anne Baxter
  • Directed by: Archie Mayo

While Kay Francis was marvelous throughout most of the 1930s, she still had some wonderful films made in the 1940s! Charley’s Aunt is a fun example of this!

Charley’s Aunt follows two college friends who convince their friend to pose as their Brazilian aunt and chaperone a double date they have planned. However, things get out of control as more people are introduced to the film — including the real aunt (Francis). This movie is a lot of fun, and one of Jack Benny’s personal favorites!

7. Guilty Hands (1931)

Guilty Hands is full, FULL, of drama. A pre-code crime drama that stars an excellent cast and is directed by an equally as stunning director, there’s lots to love about Guilty Hands. This movie also happens to be one of the best Kay Francis movies!

Guilty Hands follows a district attorney (Barrymore) who kills his old friend after he learns that his daughter is going to marry him. When the old friend’s mistress (Francis) begins to suspect that the attorney murdered him, things get even more dramatic. A must-watch if you love early 1930s movies!

6. Girls About Town (1931)

  • Genre: Comedy
  • Starring: Kay Francis, Joel McCrea
  • Directed by: George Cukor

Girls About Town is an interesting and fun movie for many reasons. For one, the movie is much as the title suggests — the audience follows girls as they go about town and flirt. Secondly, this is one of the best early George Cukor films… so it’s definitely a film you’ll want to watch.

Girls About Town, as mentioned above, follows girls as they mingle about town. However, when one of the girls, a gold digger (Francis), actually falls in love with a handsome, rustic rich man (Joel McCrea), she agrees to marry him. This movie is just a fun pre-code film!

5. In Name Only (1939)

  • Genre: Romance / Drama
  • Starring: Cary Grant, Carole Lombard, Kay Francis, Charles Coburn
  • Directed by: John Cromwell

While Kay Francis is not the main female lead in this movie, In Name Only is still an excellent film. And when Francis is on the screen, she shines. Therefore, this is definitely one of the best Kay Francis movies ever. It’s just a phenomenal film!

In Name Only follows a wealthy man (Grant) who finds himself in a passionless marriage to a wife (Francis) who only married him for his money and social position. When he meets a widow (Lombard) and falls in love with her, he wants to divorce his wife for her — only his wife won’t give him the divorce that he so desperately wants.

Related — Cary Grant: Top 10 Movies From the 1930s

4. Confession (1937)

  • Genre: Crime / Romance / Drama
  • Starring: Kay Francis, Basil Rathbone
  • Directed by: Joe May

There is a lot to love about Confession. It’s just a great film, plain and simple. It happens to be one of the best Kay Francis movies ever made and when compared to the other top films on this list, feels as if it’s a bit of an underrated gem. Watch this movie. You won’t regret it.

Confession follows a glamorous singer (Francis) who shoots a concert pianist (Rathbone) after seeing him kiss another woman. As she is taken to court and charged with his murder, the woman slowly unveils the story of how she knew him — and why she had to kill him. Riveting, wonderful, and a must-watch.

3. Jewel Robbery (1932)

Whenever Kay Francis was opposite William Powell in a movie, you knew you had a good film on your hands. Two of Francis’s best movies of all time also star Powell. In the early 1930s, these two were like dynamite on screen together.

That’s definitely evident in 1932’s Jewel Robbery, a fun romantic comedy that never gets old. This film follows a Viennese aristocrat (Francis) who is bored with her life — and with her rich husband. When a jewel thief (Powell) targets her, she instantly loves all the drama and excitement. And, of course, the two end up falling in love with each other… and it’s great fun!

2. One Way Passage (1932)

  • Genre: Romance / Comedy / Drama
  • Starring: William Powell, Kay Francis
  • Directed by: Kay Garnett

One Way Passage is, hands down, one of the absolute best Kay Francis movies. It’s very close to being THE best Kay Francis movie. It was hard to choose between this movie and #1, but the choice had to be made.

One Way Passage was one of the first doomed-romances-that-take-place-on-ships-or-cruise-liners types of stories ever told on film. Many other movies would be made that follow this type of plot, but there will always be something special about One Way Passage, possibly because of the chemistry between William Powell and Kay Francis. This film follows a dying heiress (Francis) and a condemned criminal (Powell) who meet on an ocean liner and fall in love, even though they both know they could never have a future together. Heartbreak and romance, all wrapped up into one perfect film.

Related — The Top 10 Best William Powell Movies of All Time

1. Trouble in Paradise (1932)

  • Genre: Crime / Romance / Comedy
  • Starring: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall
  • Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch

The best Kay Francis movie EVER? Why, that would be Trouble in Paradise, of course! What’s not to love about this absolutely phenomenal movie? You’ve got Miriam Hopkins and Kay Francis in one movie together? Genius!

Trouble in Paradise follows two thieves (Hopkins and Marshall) who also happen to be in a romance together. They set their sights on a perfume company executive (Francis) and began to work for her to get closer to their target. However, things become rather tricky and dramatic when the male thief ends up falling in love with his target!

Related — The Top 10 Best Miriam Hopkins Movies of All Time

What’s Your Favorite Kay Francis Movie?

Comment below your absolute favorite Kay Francis movie. Do you prefer Trouble in ParadiseJewel Robbery, or maybe something else? Is there a Francis movie you believe should be on this list that isn’t? Hit the comments below with your thoughts and opinions! I’d love to hear them!

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