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The worst film ever to win Best Picture and why . . .


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I'm not a negative nate but I've always been curious about what folks think are the worst films to be rewarded by the academy as Best Picture.

 

For me *The Great Ziegfeld*. Does anyone really think that this deserved an Oscar as Best Picture? MGM's expensive, overproduced musical biopic of showman Florenz Ziegfeld is a large lumbering, dinosaur with dull, incomprehensible musical numbers, a profane black-faced performance of "If you know Suzy"- YUCK! and a ridiculous running time of three hours! The performances by William Powell and Luis Rainer aren't bad but I can't imagine anyone today sitting through this movie with anything but blind curiosity.

 

The use of then state-of-the-art production values was widely praised at the time and it would become an example of just the kind of overdeveloped, overproduced hot air that Charlie Chaplin probably had in mind when he was putting together Modern Times which I think is the best film of that year

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"The Greatest Show On Earth", 1952.

Entertaining? Sure.

Best Picture?

It ran against "High Noon", "Ivanhoe", "Moulin Rouge", and "The Quiet Man".

"Singing In The Rain" wasn't even nominated. Neither was "The Bad And The Beautiful".

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> {quote:title=mickeeteeze wrote:}{quote}

> "The Greatest Show On Earth", 1952.

> Entertaining? Sure.

> Best Picture?

> It ran against "High Noon", "Ivanhoe", "Moulin Rouge", and "The Quiet Man".

> "Singing In The Rain" wasn't even nominated. Neither was "The Bad And The Beautiful".

 

 

Definitely either "The Quiet Man" OR "High Noon" should have won!

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I agree about The Greatest Show on Earth. I am shocked because for a man who stood atop the world of movie-making with a "super-size it" point of view and gave us such unforgettable epics as Cleopatra, Samson and Delilah and The Ten Commandments, it is strange that Cecil B. Demille's only Best Picture win came for a overblown chunk of flapdoodle about the behind the scenes antics of a travelling circus.

 

You can employ your own theories about why the academy was taken in by The Greatest Show on Earth but I choose to believe it's because everyone in Hollywood was either in the film or knew people who were. An even bigger mystery is why the academy completely missed Singin' in the Rain, the greatest of all movie musicals.

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I liked Crash but that year my choice would have been Brokeback Mountain.

 

My choice for the worst film in the modern era would be Gladiator, I haven't made myself very popular by saying that. That year my choice would have been Almost Famous, a film that I wish more people would see.

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I agree with you regarding THE GREAT ZEIGFELD, and most especially Louise Rainer's performance...dreadful actress!

More in the modern mode, I choose CHARIOTS OF FIRE., a little picture with little to recommend it, and considering what it was running against, it boggles the mind to think the "academy" would choose it. Possibly the dreary electronic score won them over....a real dud.

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THE GREAT ZIEGFELD has some good moments and a terrific performance by William Powell but it probably shouldn't have won as best film.....

 

CHARIOTS OF FIRE was a real shocker, especially losing to REDS and ON GOLDEN POND.... I think REDS should have won, especially since Warren Beatty won for best director...

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"Gentleman's Agreement"is considered by many today as a true curio, artifact and relic.It is preachy and without life.Imagine an audience of today sitting thru it..they wouldn't. It would go straight to video or cable.

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I definitely think that either *High Noon* or *Singin? in the Rain* should have won for ?52 (two of my very faves and definitely my faves from that year). With *High Noon* though you had all the political stuff going on behind the scenes with the screenwriter (Carl Foreman) being blacklisted and John Wayne calling out the film as un-American. Maybe at that point in time, the Academy didn?t want to give its highest award to a somewhat controversial film. Also it was a Western and they are typically snubbed by the Oscars. It really is hard to understand though why *Singin? in the Rain* wasn?t even nominated. I would say it?s not only the best musical ever made, but also one of the best pictures even made.

 

Here?s some more info I found about the awards that year at http://www.filmsite.org/aa52.html

 

The Best Picture Award was another surprise and is forever considered one of the Academy's worst choices for the top prize. 1952 has been considered one of the years in which the Academy blundered the greatest in its choice of Best Picture. The bloated, lumbering, melodramatic epic The Greatest Show on Earth was one of the Academy's biggest gaffes.

Instead of going to the favored, critically-acclaimed, definitive and popular western High Noon, the top Oscar - in a major upset - went to the "P.T. Barnum of Hollywood," legendary director/producer Cecil B. De Mille's gaudy epic spectacular about the struggling Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey Circus, The Greatest Show on Earth (with five nominations and two wins - Best Picture and Best Writing: Original Story). De Mille's cornball film chronicled the financial and personal problems (a romantic triangle) of the tough, three-ring circus manager (Charlton Heston in one of his earliest films), a beautiful, high-bar aerialist (Betty Hutton), a crippled trapeze artist/performer (Cornel Wilde), a clown (James Stewart), and others. This ponderous Best Picture is best known not for its acting (even though it was nominated and won for Best Original Story!) but for its spectacular train-wreck sequence.

 

The award, more than honoring the film, also saluted the film's producer, DeMille "the father (or founder) of Hollywood," with his only Best Picture Oscar - and his sole Best Director nomination. [Apologetically, in recognition of his outstanding years of producing and directing, De Mille received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award instead.] He was known for making the first feature-length movie in Hollywood, The Squaw Man (1914), and many other larger than life, 'cast of thousands' films in his past (including The Ten Commandments (1923), The Sign of the Cross (1932), Cleopatra (1934), Samson and Delilah (1949), and a second version of The Ten Commandments (1956), his last film). His The Greatest Show on Earth was one of the first Best Pictures that was a big-budget blockbuster with lots of special effects. The Academy felt obligated, presumably, to honor the great director as his career was coming to an end.

 

Oscar Omissions:

 

It was a remarkable year for awards mistakes and films that should have been nominated, but weren't. For instance, what about two major MGM classics:

? the top backstage musical by co-directors Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, Singin' In The Rain, which only received two nominations (for Best Supporting Actress (Jean Hagen) and Best Musical Score (for Lennie Hayton)) - and no awards! (A Best Musical Score award was taken away by perennial Oscar winner Alfred Newman for the competing With a Song in My Heart.) And where were nominations for Gene Kelly (as silent film star Don Lockwood, with his memorable splashing in the rain segment), Debbie Reynolds (as Kelly's love-interest), or the inimitable Donald O'Connor? And why did Jean Hagen's vibrant performance lose? By contrast, in the previous year, MGM's An American in Paris (1951) received critical acclaim, commercial success and six Oscars, with star and choreographer Gene Kelly receiving an Honorary Award

 

? and the melodramatic Hollywood satire, MGM's The Bad and the Beautiful which won a record five Oscars (Best Supporting Actress, Best Writing: Screenplay, Best Black and White Cinematography, Best Black and White Art/Set Direction, and Best Black and White Costume Design) was also not nominated for Best Picture. [The film received the most Oscar wins of any film without receiving a Best Picture nomination. It was supplanted by the very inferior Best Picture nominee by MGM, Ivanhoe, with Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, and Joan Fontaine.]

 

Lovely, young 23 year-old blonde actress Grace Kelly in her second screen role was not nominated for playing the pacifist Quaker wife of Best Actor-winning Gary Cooper in High Noon.

 

In my opinion, she didn?t get a nomination b/c you could have put a mannequin in her place and gotten a better performance. She?s stiff and unemotional and her inexperience is very obvious against more seasoned actors like Gary Cooper and Katy Jurado. Katy probably should have gotten a nomination but not Grace.

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Audiences today are brainless which is why they wouldn't watch GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT if it were made today. This was an important film in its day, based on a big-selling novel by Laura Hobson, with a big cast, etc. Like wow, a film you have to THINK about.... wouldn't play today, but that doesn't lessen its importance.

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drednm, I could not agree with you more about today's audiences. All they want is special effects, outlandish chase scenes, sex and bad language. A movie with a good plot, characters and interesting dialog would go begging at the box office.

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I agree with the negative comments on The Greatest Show on Earth. When I first saw it, I was very disappointed. I was expecting more action, perhaps more suspense. I've seen most of DeMille's films, and this is probably my least favorite, despite a pretty good cast. I'd prefer to watch two other films about the circus: Ring of Fear and The Big Circus. At least both of those have a lunatic killer running amuck.

 

In fairness, I haven't seen every Best Picture winner, so I may yet discover one that's worse.

 

As a side note, Silence of the Lambs, though not the "worst" film, is very unpleasant, and I was disappointed when it won Best Picture.

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thanks... GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT might not be the best film ever made but it's an important film in Hollywood history because of the subject matter, the great cast, and the terrific script by Moss Hart.

 

John Garfield was so excited about this project he took a small part just be part of it.

 

Literate films today, even the best, hardly make a profit.... THERE WILL BE BLOOD, ATONEMENT, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN all did pretty well at the box office (to be fair) and were all well done. I enjoyed them all.

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His The Greatest Show on Earth was one of the first Best Pictures that was a big-budget blockbuster with lots of special effects.

 

Try GONE WITH THE WIND, thirteen years earlier.

 

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH was originally supposed to star Kirk Douglas as circus manager Brad Braden, instead of Charlton Heston. It would have had a lot more focus and energy with Douglas, and been a lot better film all 'round.

 

? the top backstage musical by co-directors Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, Singin' In The Rain, which only received two nominations (for Best Supporting Actress (Jean Hagen) and Best Musical Score (for Lennie Hayton)) - and no awards! (A Best Musical Score award was taken away by perennial Oscar winner Alfred Newman for the competing With a Song in My Heart.) And where were nominations for Gene Kelly (as silent film star Don Lockwood, with his memorable splashing in the rain segment), Debbie Reynolds (as Kelly's love-interest), or the inimitable Donald O'Connor? And why did Jean Hagen's vibrant performance lose? By contrast, in the previous year, MGM's An American in Paris (1951) received critical acclaim, commercial success and six Oscars, with star and choreographer Gene Kelly receiving an Honorary Award

 

Until the 1960s, when the "prestige" road-show musical held sway, the Academy has seldom looked favorably upon the form: no musical won Best Picture between 1936 (THE GREAT ZIEGFELD and 1951 (AN AMERICAN IN PARIS). In fact, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN's greatness lies not in its musical numbers (whch are good, but not great, and were, in any case, mostly off-the-shelf numbers taken from the Arthur Freed-Nacio Herb Brown catalog) but by virtue of its being one of the best comedies ever made -- and the Academy has been even less recptive to them.

 

Come to think of it, is there a more undeserving Best Picture winner than 1938's YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (over THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, of all things)?

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I like "Greatest Show," though, I agree it wasn't the best of that year. CHARIOTS OF FIRE put me to sleep. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN? If that was the best...There is no shortage of material here. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS was an absurd choice. The songs aren't even original. GIGI is a little better. But it's not that impressive. REBECCA. Hitchcock made a lot of fine movies. Why this one? AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS? What part of that awkward three hours is so good? Even Olivier's HAMLET gives me pause. You can't fault Mr. Shakespeare's script. But it works a lot better as a play than a movie.

 

The Academy's picks don't make that much sense the next morning. Decades later, we're really scratching our heads!

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Nobody's mentioned *Going My Way* yet. It beat out a slew of better movies in a bunch of categories.

 

*Double Indemnity* is a better picture (and thanks to the idiotic nomination of Barry Fitzgerald in both acting categories, Fred MacMurray was snubbed in the Best Actor category).

 

Alfred Hitchcock should have won the directing award hands-down for *Lifeboat*. The other four times he lost, he was at least up against some great directing performances. Losing to Elia Kazan's *On the Waterfront*, for example, is nothing to sneeze at. It's probably due to the fact that *Lifeboat* is a World War II movie showing the ugly side of the Allies that it didn't win. But even then, Otto Preminger's *Laura* would have been a better choice than the treacly *Going My Way* .

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Good topic, Selk!

 

I always enjoy a entertaining musical. HOWEVER....I certainly do not believe that

"GIGI" should have won although it wasn't the "worst" film to have ever won.

 

When you consider that "Touch of Evil"(Orson Welles triumph) and "Vertigo" were

released at the same time as "Gigi", and weren't even nominated, that was a

major oversight, in my opinion. Considering J. Stewart's dark perfomance and Hitchcock's

direction, it puzzled me.

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GIGI sure ranks among my worst choices for best film winners... totally charmless and forced (like saccharine through a feeding tube)....

 

Message was edited by: drednm

 

Message was edited by: drednm

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I agree with you regarding THE GREAT ZEIGFELD, and most especially Louise Rainer's performance...dreadful actress!

 

*?The Viennese Teardrop?, yeah, she won the Oscar because of that phone conversation where she breaks down. But her performance is that film was only functional it was the NEXT performance in The Good Earth where she played a Chinese peasant with an Austrian accent.*

 

More in the modern mode, I choose CHARIOTS OF FIRE., a little picture with little to recommend it, and considering what it was running against, it boggles the mind to think the "academy" would choose it. Possibly the dreary electronic score won them over....a real dud.?

 

*Forgive me if this sounds a little over-familiar but I think that year?s Best Picture should have been Raiders of the Lost Ark, a great red-blooded action adventure. Chariots of Fire won for Vangelis? score and I think this one will perplex Oscar historians for decades.*

 

"Gentleman's Agreement"is considered by many today as a true curio, artifact and relic.It is preachy and without life.Imagine an audience of today sitting thru it..they wouldn't. It would go straight to video or cable.

 

*But for it?s time it was pretty revolutionary, think of a film this close to WWII about anti-semitism winning Best Picture. That?s bold stuff.*

 

It really is hard to understand though why Singin? in the Rain wasn?t even nominated. I would say it?s not only the best musical ever made, but also one of the best pictures even made.

 

*Consider this: In 1952, while Joe McCarthy and his sycophants were looking for communist messages in American movies, we were shipping movies to Europe. Singin? in the Rain was a modest hit here in it?s initial release but in Europe it was seen as an mirror of the American Dream. Those people assumed that we all drove cars, owned televisions, sang and danced and were dressed beautifully. They wanted that opulence and so it turned many away from Communism. So while we in America were looking for Communist messages in our own movies, our own movies were in Europe helping to fight off Communism.*

 

In fairness, I haven't seen every Best Picture winner, so I may yet discover one that's worse.

 

*The Oscars are a hobby of mine and years ago I made myself a mission to see every Best Picture winner. I've seen them all now. Recommendation: Stay away from*

 

*Cimarron - Three hours of Richard Dix on horseback, who needs that?*

*The Great Ziegfeld - Three hours of Florenz Ziegfeld, who wants that?*

*You Can?t Take It With You - Third rate Capra*

*Hamlet - Dry as dust, a curious misfire from Olivier*

*All the King?s Men - Two hours of a screaming Broderick Crawford, no thank you.*

*The Greatest Show on Earth - Trust me . . . it?s not*

*Gladiator - Muddy, mediocre, juvenile and dull*

 

Literate films today, even the best, hardly make a profit.... THERE WILL BE BLOOD, ATONEMENT, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN all did pretty well at the box office (to be fair) and were all well done. I enjoyed them all.

 

*I could not complain about any of the Best Picture nominees this year. However, my choice would have been Juno, a movie that gets better every time you see it.*

 

Come to think of it, is there a more undeserving Best Picture winner than 1938's YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (over THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, of all things)?

 

*That year my choice would have been Le Grande Illusion*

 

+Nobody's mentioned Going My Way yet. It beat out a slew of better movies in a bunch of categories.

 

Double Indemnity is a better picture (and thanks to the idiotic nomination of Barry Fitzgerald in both acting categories, Fred MacMurray was snubbed in the Best Actor category).+

 

*I liked Going My Way but as Best Picture? Not quite. That was the year of Double Indemity, one of the best films of the decade.*

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re: CIMARRON.... a terrific, sprawling Western... and Richard Dix disappears for a huge portion of the second half (a real plus in my book).... probably the first Best Picture winner to have LOST money at the box office....

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