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AIMING TO WATCH EVERY BEST PICTURE


diana.g1990
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First off, I'm a huge movie, Oscar, and TCM fan! Currently, I am aiming to watch every film ever nominated for the Academy's Best Picture Award. Yes all 494 of them! I've been at this for roughly two years and I still have 158 films to watch!! But every day I'm working on accomplishing this. Has anyone here ever tried or actually has watched every film nominated for the Best Picture Oscar? What has your journey been like?

 

- What have been your favorite films to watch? Any nominations you despised?

- What are your sources to watching these films? Any trouble finding certain movies?

 

Please do share! :)

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I'll do the first year: 1927-1928.

 

There were two categories this year only: Best Picture and Best Artistic Picture.

 

Best Picture:

Wings - Winner and now on Blu-Ray via Paramount as of 2012 after previously having no release at all on any format prior to this.

 

 

 

The Racket - Televised on TCM but no copy is in print. Flicker Alley planned to release this but cannot get rights cleared by the Howard Hughes' estate.

 

 

 

Seventh Heaven - On DVD as part of Borzage & Murnau at Fox set. Rather expensive but still in print.

 

 

 

Sunrise - Won "Best Artistic Picture".

Sunrise is also on Borzage & Murnau at Fox set. It was on Blu and DVD

individually but it is now out of print and scalpers are holding copies hostage.

 

 

 

The Crowd - Plays on Silent Sunday Nights on TCM. Was available on VHS.

Is not yet availablle via DVD-R in the Warner Archive but I imagine this is where it will wind up.

 

 

 

Chang - Has played on TCM before. DVD is out of print and outrageously priced by scalpers.

 

For the out of print titles, you might try a library and see if it is available.

 

Of the six I'd say "Sunrise" and "The Crowd" have stood the test of time the best.

"Seventh Heaven" and "The Racket" are also good.

I just wasn't that impressed by Wings overall. If you watch many films from 1925-1935, you'll see a strong anti-war message in many of them that was probably push-back from WWI seeming like such a pointless war in retrospect. This is one of those films, but it just didn't move me.

 

Chang is my least favorite of the six. I found it very odd.

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OK, so I'm up early and bored, so I'll do 1928-1929 too.

 

This was a weird year in which sound and silent films competed side by side.

This was the only year this happened.

 

 

Broadway Melody - Winner is on DVD and prices vary widely.

Alibi - On DVD via Kino and still in print. The sound is rather rough on this one.

Hollywood Revue - On DVD-R via Warner Archive and the print is very good.

In Old Arizona - On DVD via Fox and still in print.

The Patriot - The only silent nominated this year. Leave it to Paramount to

lose or neglect their film history. From the Wikipedia : "Only pieces of this film are left,

including trailers; there is no complete copy. It is the only Best Picture Academy Award nominee

for which no complete or near-complete copy exists."

 

 

The four surviving nominees are early talkies. Personally, I love this era, but most

people do not. Probably the best of the bunch in this case is the actual winner, "Broadway Melody".

You also do need to check out Hollywood Revue. It sags dreadfully in places, but you get to

see Joan Crawford and Jack Benny just as they were starting out in films, plus the last hurrah of

silent comic Buster Keaton and dramatic silent star John Gilbert.

There's even Ann Dvorak as a chorus girl who slaps Jack Benny's face for being fresh.

 

 

 

 

 

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Next is 1929-1930. The transition to sound is complete.

 

All Quiet on the Western Front - Winner and on DVD via Universal and in print.

The Big House - On DVD-R via Warner Archives. This was one of the first films to be put on the Archive and Warner Bros. did absolutely no restoration. Many say it looks like a public domain print.

Disraeli - Was on VHS, never on DVD. This one plays on TCM usually during Oscar month.

The Divorcee - On DVD in Forbidden Hollywood Volume 2 and still in print.

The Love Parade - On DVD via Eclipse Ernst Lubitsch Musicals and still in print.

 

The actual winner is probably the best of the bunch. It still holds up quite well today, but unlike most anti-war WWI films it tells its story from the German perspective.

Although all the nominees are excellent I would say second best is Paramount's "The Love Parade". It's so sophisticated and natural it looks like it is from another planet compared to other films made in 1929.

The only one that looks a bit rushed and stage-bound today is probably "The Divorcee". Still it is a very good example of a precode film if you are interested in exploring that era.

"Disraeli" could have been stage-bound, but the dynamic George Arliss in the title role keeps your attention riveted on his performance through the entire film.

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1930-31

One of the weirder Academy years. As the Great Depression takes hold it seems like some of the better more controversial movies are ignorred. For the modern viewer, watching this year's entries will be tough going and not really representative of the year's best films.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cimarron - The winner is on DVD and in print and very inexpensive - there's a reason for that.

East Lynne - From the Wikipedia: "Only one copy of the film is known to exist. This print is in good shape, although several frames have an "X" on them, indicating they were to be removed in the film editing stage. One frame has a "crosshairs" on it while several frames have ink marks. People may view the film at UCLA's Instructional Media Lab, Powell Library, after arranging an appointment."

The Front Page - Available only in pretty awful public domain prints. The copy TCM runs is watchable.

Skippy - Never available on any home video format. Made by Paramount but now owned by Universal, a very good print runs on TCM during Oscar Month occasionally.

Trader Horn - On VHS but never on DVD. This one is shown on TCM occasionally and really needs restoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best of the five nominees is probably The Front Page. Remember this was the first one and it was an original idea at the time. I just love Adolphe Menjou's performance.

Cimarron is a very long-winded film with a hammy performance by Richard Dix that just doesn't play well to modern audiences at all. It probably was picked due to the fact that it was (a) a great step forward in sound recording and in motion returning to film (B) harmless and not likely to ignite class warfare during the Depression.

East Lynne had the misfortune of being filmed by pre-Zanuck Fox and is in the same lost or unaccessible conditon that so many early Fox films are. People who have seen it say it does not follow the novel and pulls punches that would have been allowable in the precode era, but that Ann Harding was very good. I have personally not seen it.

Skippy played off of the popular comic Skippy and I really liked it. Probably second best of the five.

Trader Horn - For the same reasons that viewing live musical performances from 1970's TV don't excite in the age of the Ipod, anyone who views this from the perspective of someone who has 24/7 access to Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel won't get what the big deal is of seeing Africa's wildlife on film. From today's standards, the wildlife isn't even that clearly photographed.

In 1931, though, most people had never seen such sights.However, dramatically, it does not hold up that well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have to wonder why all of the films we associate with that year in film today - Public Enemy, Dracula, Little Caesar, Morocco, or even Eddie Cantor's Whoopee! were not Best Picture nominees.

The omission of City Lights has a reason - The Academy considered no silent films after 1928-1929, even though I consider it the best film of that competition period.

 

P.S. - I'll probably stop cluttering this thread with posts somewhere around WWII. That's usually where I lose interest.

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1931-32

The number of best pictures nominated expands from five to eight.

 

 

Grand Hotel - The winner and on DVD and in print.

Five Star Final - On DVD-R in the Warner Archive.

Shanghai Express - On DVD-R and sold either at a high but OK price by TCM with outrageous shipping costs or by a third party with an outrageous

price and OK shipping costs. Pick your poison.

Arrowsmith - On DVD and in print.

Bad Girl - In the Murnau & Borzage at Fox DVD set and in print.

One Hour With You - In the Eclipse Ernst Lubitsch Musicals DVD set.

The Smiling Lieutenant - Also in the Eclipse Ernst Lubitsch Musicals DVD set.

The Champ - On DVD and still in print.

 

 

I'd say the best of the lot is Five Star Final. At first glance it looks like it might be just another WB precode programmer but it really is outstanding. Great work by the WB contract players plus Boris Karloff as a drunken reporter.

Shanghai Express, The Smiling Lieutenant, and One Hour With You are sophisticated precode Paramount at its peak.

Bad Girl is very good but was largely unaccessible until the Borzage/Murnau set came out. Another one I highly recommend. It's a slice of life film about a working class couple as you see them go through courtship, marriage, and parenthood all the while struggling with the very real problems of the Depression.

Arrowsmith was OK but seemed truncated seeing how they were trying to stuff such a large novel into one feature film.

The Champ is OK, but there were better films that should have supplanted it.

Why Grand Hotel won is something for which I have no explanation. There are some good individual performances but it just doesn't gel the way Dinner at Eight does. Interesting today that it is set in Berlin right before the Nazis take over Germany.

 

 

Notable omissions: Frankenstein, Monkey Business, Scarface, Palmy Days, Over The Hill

My favorite film of this competition period: Monkey Business

 

 

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Something like this would be too arduous for me. But I wish you every bit of good fortune. It's a "fun" kind of project, costs little to accomplish(except in time) and hurts nobody.

 

 

It's too late for me to accomplish one goal I used to have, which was to watch every minute of the Jerry Lewis Telethon on Labor Day weekend. Oh, he STILL has 'em, but they're not as long as they used to be. Nor as interesting.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}Just curious. Which film, in your opinion, is the worst of the 494? The worst Best Picture WINNER I have ever seen is probably AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS.

I know you were asking Diana, but I'll chime in too. 2005's "Crash" was probably the worst of the winners that I've seen. Note that I have not seen all 494 nominees but I believe I've seen all of the winners.

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I would have liked to have seen Around The World In 80 Days in CINERAMA as released in the 50s. I heard you felt like you were going to all those places. I don't think TV does it justice, probably.

 

I have tried to watch every best picture, Cavalcade and such. I found some gems I hadn't seen. Watched great movies again....myself, I had a hard time watching Tom Jones, which I think is just stupid and not romantic or funny, that stuff of the mid 60s only. There are movies like The English Patient or American Beauty that I would never try to watch again. ...but thats me......different strokes for different folks....You will find it hard to watch ALL best pictures for that reason.

 

Some of the nominated and not nominated are as good or better. I felt in the ealy 90s The Firm and Last Of The Mohicans were as good as any movies I had ever seen, yet not best picture, maybe not even nominated. Last Country For Old Men won, I think, but is it all that ?

 

What the Acadamy says is BEST in a certain year may be just their opinion, and there often are other pictures more worth watching of that year.

 

Edited by: WhyaDuck on Aug 25, 2012 2:27 PM

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I liked No Country For Old Men a little, it was no The Big Country, but I liked it a little.

 

Just saying, that if you watch every single Acadamy Best Picture ever, you may come to the conclusion that I did, don't go on what the Acadamy says, use your own eyes and ears and mind, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. You don't have to say you like it because it won a statue.

 

 

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First off thank you everyone for responding and keeping this post going! I really do enjoy reading your thoughts!

 

For starters, I would absolutely agree with many of you in the fact that yes, the Academy Awards have overlooked many exceptional films over the years and have not nominated them for the Best Picture award. I would also say that I often do disagree with who The Academy does reward the Best Picture Oscar to.

 

And just to join in on some of the discussion, I would say the worse films I have seen, thus far, of the 494 nominees would have to be: Disraeli, The Front Page, Viva Villa!, David Copperfield, The Citadel, Our Town, The Invaders, The Pied Piper, Wake Island, Watch on the Rhine, Henry V, Ivanhoe, Julius Caesar, The Guns of Navarone, The Dresser, and Good Night, and Good Luck. And overall I would say Hamlet is actually the worst Best Picture winner. Yes I am well aware that many of you reading this will disagree completely with me but this is just my personal opinion.

 

On the other hand, of the 494 nominations that I have seen, I have been absolutely impressed with: Mildred Pierce, The Heiress, All About Eve, Sunset Blvd., A Place in the Sun, The Apartment, The Exorcist, Dog Day Afternoon, Rain Man, GoodFellas, Titanic, Life Is Beautiful, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Chicago, Ray, The Departed, Atonement, An Education, The Social Network, and The Artist.

 

Again this is just my personal opinion thus far. I still have 158 films left to watch! Please do keep posting. I apperciate all your responses!

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1932-1933

Nominees grow to ten.

This is the last year the competition period will not be a calendar year.

The competition period ran from August 1932 - December 1933 and began the custom of the Academy Awards being held in early spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cavalcade (Fox) - Winner - From the Wikipedia:"The film is, at present, the only Best Picture Oscar winner not currently available on a solitary DVD in Region 1 (with Wings released on January 24, 2012). Cavalcade was released on DVD December 7, 2010, as part of the three-volume "Twentieth Century Fox 75th Anniversary Collection", a collection that sells for well over four hundred dollars. Fox has no plans to release Cavalcade separately.

A Farewell to Arms (Paramount) - On Kino DVD and in print.

42nd Street (Warner Bros.) - On WHV DVD and in print.

I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (Warner Bros.) - On WHV DVD and in print.

Lady for a Day (Columbia) - On Blu and DVD and in print.

Little Women (RKO Radio) - On DVD and in print.

The Private Life of Henry VIII (London Films; United Artists) - Best print is in Eclipse 16 set: Alexander Korda's Private Lives.

She Done Him Wrong (Paramount) - On DVD and in print.

Smilin' Through (MGM) - Was on VHS, not yet on Warner Archive. Plays on TCM periodically.

State Fair (Fox) - Not available in any format. Played in Feb. 2012 on TCM as part of Oscar Month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would say my two favorites of the nominees are "Smilin Through" as a just a good fantasy-romance and "42nd Street" for transforming cinematic choreography, which had been very boring up to that point.

"I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang" still holds up, but it is really hard to watch Muni's character so mistreated.

"Lady for a Day" is still a delight because of Warren William and Mae Robson.

"Private Life of Henry VIII" is great mainly because of Laughton's performance. The script is ridiculous at points.

I haven't seen State Fair, so I can't comment on it.

A Farewell To Arms, She Done Him Wrong, and Little Women are films I like, I'm just not sure they're best picture material.

As for the winner, Cavalcade, let me say this about that - It is an average "march of time" period piece leading up to the present, with that present being 1933.It is a moment frozen both in time and geography. Unlike "42nd Street" and "Dinner at Eight" which are other films from 1933 that I think most Americans would find very accessible today, you might not care for Cavalcade if you don't know what to look for. This film is totally British in its perspective and it is also very much in the anti-war spirit of films of that time.

The family featured in this film - The Marryotts - have to grow used to downstairs coming upstairs and their loss of unquestioned prominence in British society, on top of all of the other changes over the first 30 years of the 20th century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Films not nominated that I think deserved the honor : Trouble in Paradise, Dinner at Eight, Duck Soup, Gold Diggers of 1933 (which I actually liked better than 42nd Street)

My favorite film of the competition period: tie between Dinner at Eight and Trouble in Paradise.

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1934

Number of nominees grows to an all time high of 12.

This is the first year that the production code is enforced beginning July 1, 1934.

 

 

 

It Happened One Night (Columbia) -Winner and on DVD and in print.

The Thin Man (MGM) - On DVD and in print.

The Gay Divorcee (RKO) - On DVD and in print.

Barretts of Wimpole Street (MGM) -was on VHS and never on DVD.

House of Rothschild (Fox) - Unavailable but played during Oscar MOnth on TCM in Feb. 2011.

One Night of Love (Columbia) - Was on VHS never on DVD.

Here Comes The Navy (Warner Bros) - Unavailable in any format but plays on TCM periodically.

Imitation of Life (Paramount) - On DVD and DVD-R. Hard to tell if DVD is out of print as prices vary widely.

Flirtation Walk (Warner Bros.) - On DVD-R in Warner Archive.

Cleopatra (Paramount) - On DVD and in print.

Viva Villa (MGM) - Was on VHS not on DVD.

The White Parade (Fox)- From the Wikipedia : "The only surviving print is located at the UCLA film archive, and can be view at the Instructional Media Lab, Powell Library, after making an appointment. The print is in rough shape; several frames are out of alignment, at times, while the whole picture looks bleached out and very fuzzy. As well, near the end of the film, a sign pops up indicating "reel 7"; fast forward and you can see the rest of the film.

 

 

 

I prefer "The Thin Man" to "It Happened One Night", but both hold up very well.

They were both released precode so they have subject matter you won't see again for 30 years such as Nick Charles admitting that he enjoys drinking too much and living on his wife's money in "The Thin Man", and realistic scenes of suffering and hunger in the Depression in "It Happened One Night".

Other really good nominees from that year: Gay Divorcee, House of Rothschild, Cleopatra, Imitation of Life, and Barretts of Wimpole Street.

I love James Cagney, but I can't figure why "Here Comes The Navy" deserves a nod.

"Viva Villa" and "Flirtation Walk" are also ponderous choices.

I've never seen "One Night of Love" or what's left of "White Parade" so I cannot comment.

 

 

 

Overlooked films: Of Human Bondage, The Merry Widow, Death Takes a Holiday, Dangerous Corner

My favorite of this year: The Thin Man

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1935

First time statuettes were called Oscars.

First full year under the production code.

You'll notice many more historical dramas and period pieces beginning this year and continuing until the beginning of WWII, probably because Hollywood felt that head censor Joe Breen would have to figure nobody could be having sex with all of those petticoats and corsets in the way.

 

 

 

Mutiny on the Bounty (MGM) - Winner - On DVD and in print.

Alice Adams (RKO) - DVD is out of print

Broadway Melody of 1936(MGM) - On DVD individually at an outrageous price. See "Classical Musicals From Dream Factory Vol. 3" for a more effective purchase.

Captain Blood (Warner Bros) - On DVD and in print.

David Copperfield (MGM) - On DVD and in print.

The Informer (RKO) - On DVD and in print in "John Ford Film Collection". Out of print individual DVD.

Les Miserable (Paramount) - On DVD and in print.

Lives of a Bengal Lancer (Paramount) - On DVD and in print.

Midsummer's Night's Dream (Warner Bros) - On DVD and in print.

Naughty Marietta (MGM) - On DVD-R in Warner Archive.

Ruggles of Red Gap (Paramount) - On Universal Vault Series DVD-R.

Top Hat (RKO) - On DVD and in print.

 

 

 

Films I liked in this bunch: All of them have their merits, although I found the actual winner, "Mutiny on the Bounty" a bit tiresome.

I've never cared for the pure operetta films of Jeanette McDonald, thus I don't much care for Naughty Marietta.

Broadway Melody of 1936 had a very interesting rework of the Broadway Melody formula that worked after the code and was entertaining to boot.

For sure the crop of nominees this year is better than 1934.

 

 

 

My favorite film from this year: Top Hat. It's the second film with Fred & Ginger that actually has them in the lead, and probably has the best combination of music, comedy, and inuendo of all of their joint efforts.

 

Edited by: calvinnme on Aug 26, 2012 2:06 PM

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1936

The number of nominees decrease to a more reasonable ten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Ziegfeld (MGM) - Winner on DVD and in print.

Anthony Adverse (Warner Bros.) - On VHS only. Plays on TCM periodically.

Dodsworth (United Artists) - On out of print DVD - price varies widely.

Libeled Lady (MGM) On out of print DVD.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Columbia) - On DVD and in print.

Romeo and Juliet (MGM) - On DVD and in print.

San Francisco (MGM) - On DVD and in print.

Story of Louis Pasteur (Warner Bros.) - Was on VHS not on DVD. Plays on TCM periodically.

A Tale of Two Cities (MGM) - On DVD and in print.

Three Smart Girls (Universal) - On DVD in "Deanna Durbin Sweetheart Pack" at minimal cost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year's winner, *The Great Ziegfeld*, is charming because of William Powell's great charisma. He and Myrna Loy do not really click in this film that makes Ziegfeld look like an innocent guy who just got caught in one compromising position after another. The truth was not that pretty, but with the production code, Ziegfeld only recently deceased, and it being necessary for his widow Billie Burke to be on board with whatever screenplay resulted, this was probably all that was possible at the time.

*Anthony Adverse* won 4 Oscars and was nominated for 3 more, but today it plays as a plodding ponderous tale that just lands with a thud.

I've never seen *Three Smart Girls* so I can't comment.

*San Francisco* is best for the scenes of the quake and Jeanette McDonald's singing. The good versus evil stuff with Jeanette McDonald in the middle really looks a bit heavy-handed and silly today, although the production code was probably the best thing that ever happened to Spencer Tracy since it gave him a chance to play great moral authority figures, which is something that he excelled at for decades.

*Romeo & Juliet* is very good, even though the leads were old enough to play Romeo and Juliet's actual parents. It's a shame Leslie Howard didn't do more Shakespeare than he did.

*Libeled Lady* is a hilarious romp with four of MGM's most talented players - Harlow, Powell, Loy, and Tracy in a virtual romantic rectangle versus a triangle.

I have nothing but high praise for *Tale of Two Cities, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town*, and *Story of Louis Pasteur.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite of the nominees and for the year is *Dodsworth*, a story with Walter Huston as a wealthy auto magnate who is nagged by his wife into retiring early and going to Europe. She's chasing a youth she can never reclaim, and while Dodsworth is waiting for her to regain her sanity he meets a widow with whom he has much in common. It's very honest and emotionally realistic for a production code era film.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worthy candidates not nominated: My Man Godfrey, After the Thin Man, Swing Time, Show Boat

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1937

The first full year MGM has had to do without Irving Thalberg, and the studio's ship still seems to be on autopilot to success. But their innovator was gone. Like I imagine Apple will eventually become without Steve Jobs, it is only a matter of time until innovation will be needed again to tweak the MGM formula, or reset the compass entirely, and the innovator will not be there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Life of Emile Zola (Warner Bros.) - Winner is on DVD and in print.

The Awful Truth (Columbia) - on DVD and in print

Captains Courageous (MGM) - on DVD and in print

Dead End (Goldwyn; United Artists) - on DVD and out of print and being held hostage by scalpers.

The Good Earth (MGM) - on DVD and in print

In Old Chicago (Twentieth Century-Fox) - on DVD and in print.

Lost Horizon (Columbia) - On DVD and in print.

One Hundred Men and a Girl (Universal) - was on VHS but never on Region 1 DVD.

Stage Door (RKO Radio) - on DVD and out of print

A Star Is Born (Selznick International Pictures; United Artists) - on Kino DVD and restored as of 2012.

 

*Life of Emile Zola* is Warner Brothers' first Best Picture win, probably due to Paul Muni's performance in the title role. I don't think it was the best film made that year, but it certainly is a tribute to how far WB has come in just a few short years. In the early 30's they were still the maker of odd little films like *Dancing Sweeties, Matrimonial Bed,* and *Back Pay* with stars nobody remembers today, but they matured rapidly, and that's usually what I think about when I watch this 1937 Best Picture winner.

I've never see *One Hundred Men and a Girl,* so I can't comment.

I think that probably the one that holds up the worst over time is *Good Earth*. I just don't like the style or the pace.

The nominees that I like the best are *Stage Door*, *In Old Chicago* - which seems a lot like *San Francisco* without the stark contrast between protagonists, and *The Awful Truth* - the story of a marriage where love has not "gone with the wind" but the couple doesn't know it or can't admit it yet.

*A Star is Born* is much like 1932's "What Price Hollywood"?, just made more personal because here the successful new star is married to the boozing has-been. In *What Price Hollywood* the boozing has-been was a director who had discovered the star, but they never had any romantic involvement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worthy unnominated films: Topper, Stella Dallas, Night Must Fall, Prisoner of Zenda, Day at the Races, Shall We Dance, Maytime

 

 

 

 

 

 

My list of worthy unnominated films seem as good as some of those that were nominated. Some omissions are strange. If *Naughty Marietta* was worthy a nomination in 1935, I don't know why *Maytime*, which is much more of a general interest film with a much better romantic angle, would not be chosen in 1937. Likewise, if *Top Hat* was nominated in 1935, I don't know why *Shall We Dance* would be omitted in 1937. Maybe it was a matter of novelty wearing off?

*Captains Courageous* mainly had Tracy's performance going for it, while *Night Must Fall* mainly rested on Robert Montgomery's acting chops. The former was nominated, the latter was not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite film of the year did get major recognition at the Academy Awards but was ineligible for Best Picture: *Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs*.

What would have become of feature length animation had Snow White failed at the box office? 90% of the animation made today is as disposable as tissue paper, but people will still line up to get a Blu-Ray copy of Snow White 75 years after it was made. I remember seeing it in a theater at age 10 and it captured my imagination as few films did during my childhood. That's why I remember the experience today, 44 years later.

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1938

 

You Can't Take It With you (Columbia) - The winner is on DVD and in Print

Adventures of Robin Hood (Warner Bros) On DVD and in print

Alexander's Ragtime Band (Fox) On DVD and in print

Boys Town (MGM) - On DVD and in print

The Citadel (MGM) - On DVD-R via Warner Archives

Four Daughters (Warner Bros) - On DVD-R via Warner Archives

Grand Illusion - On Criterion DVD but out of print and held hostage by scalpers

Jezebel (Warner Bros) - On DVD and in print

Pygmalion - On Criterion "Essential Art House" DVD and in print

Test Pilot (MGM) - Was on VHS, not on DVD, plays on TCM periodically.

 

 

Of all the nominees I liked *Robin Hood* the best, and it's my favorite film of the year. It's just a great movie-going experience as far as adventure with Flynn at his best.

*Alexander's Ragtime Band* reunites the trio of stars from "In Old Chicago" with great tunes from Irving Berlin.

*Pygmalion* - Loved the movie but I missed the songs of "My Fair Lady" since I saw that first.

*Jezebel* - great acting by Bette Davis who discovered that Kay Francis' downfall was her great fortune. No more would she be the parachute jumping ex-lady of Warner B films.

Neither *Four Daughters* nor *Boys Town* really did that much for me. They were just too sicky sweet, although Four Daughters had a great first role for John Garfield.

I've never seen *Grand Illusion* so I cannot comment.

*Test Pilot* was one of the weirdest films I've seen from that year. I don't see where Clark Gable and Myrna Loy's romance is coming from and Spencer Tracy spends the entire time jealous of Myrna Loy's relationship with Gable.

*The Citadel* has great performances by Robert Donat, Rosalind Russell, and Ralph Richardson early in their careers as well as a very young Rex Harrison playing a rather devilish doctor in a supporting role. The plot, however, is very predictable.

The winner, *You Can't Take it With You*, just tries too hard.

 

 

Overlooked films: Angels With Dirty Faces, Three Comrades, Mannequin, Vivacious Lady, Bringing Up Baby

 

 

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Calvin, thanks for your analysis. This is just great, and including info about availability is a huge plus. It's depressing that too many are out of print or not restored.

 

 

For 1933 I'd definitely add THE BITTER TEA OF GENERAL YEN, my favorite Frank Capra film. I can't decide if I prefer it or DUCK SOUP as best of the year--what a contrast. By the way, I agree that YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU tries too hard. I have to agree with Diana that HAMLET is one of the weakest Oscar winners. Because I'm allergic to Barry Fitzgerald, my least favorite Oscar winner so far is GOING MY WAY, with BRAVEHEART a close second. But then I haven't seen CRASH.

 

 

The 1930s Oscar choices before 1939 seem strange in retrospect. THE BROADWAY MELODY and CAVALCADE told stories that were new then, but overly familiar now, and the land rush scenes in CIMARRON don't make up for other shortcomings.

 

 

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1939 - The world went to war in September 1939, thus this is the last year films aren't touched by that fact.

One of the few years where every single nominee is great and appreciated today. This year as mainly touted as the peak of the studio era, so it's ironic that four of the ten nominees were from small independent producers and two more were from smaller conventional studios, although Selznick Studios surely benefited from the fact that David O. Selznick was Louis Mayer's son-in-law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gone With The Wind (Selznick International Pictures) - Winner and on DVD and Blu and in print.

Dark Victory (Warner Bros) - On DVD and in print.

Goodbye Mr. Chips (MGM) - Was on DVD but is now out of print and being scalped.

Love Affair (RKO) - In the public domain on DVDs of widely varying quality.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (Columbia) - On DVD and in print.

Ninotchka (MGM) - On DVD and in print.

Of Mice and Men (Hal Roach Studios) - On DVD and in print.

Stagecoach (United Artists/Walter Wanger Productions) - On DVD and Blu by Criterion and in print.

Wizard of Oz (MGM) - On DVD and Blu and in print.

Wuthering Heights (Sam Goldwyn) - Was on VHS, never on Region 1 DVD. However, Warner Home Video bought the rights to many of Sam Goldwyn's films and it will probably end up on DVD-R in the Warner Archive.

 

So maybe it was the Depression easing or the Nazis on the horizon, but whatever the reason, the production code isn't dictating so much silly fluff at this point. *Of Mice and Men* shows people struggling, dreaming, and having those dreams crushed, *Ninotchka* makes Communism the stuff of laughter, and American politics is shown as full of hypocrisy and cronyism in *Mr. Smith Goes To Washington*. The unnominated *Five Came Back* makes murder/suicide OK under extreme circumstances.

 

*Gone With the Wind* - Would many people remember Clark Gable today, if not for this film or It Happened One Night, neither of which were MGM - his home studio? Likewise for Olivia De Haviland. Most people don't remember her B Warner Bros. light comedienne days, instead she is remembered for this one and the other roles she picked for herself after she was free of her Warner Bros. contract. This is still my favorite film of 1939, but I think it's losing something over time. Maybe it's just due to the fact I can see it anytime I want in any conceivable format.

*Dark Victory* - A very good film with Bette Davis as a dying girl who is full of life and does not know her fate. Should they or shouldn't they have told her the truth? And how often do you see Humphrey Bogart in a bit part as a horse trainer speaking with an Irish Brogue?

*Goodbye Mr. Chips* - A sentimental favorite of mine. Very good subtle performance by Donat who won Best Actor in a year in which there was an obvious almost unbreakable three way tie - Gable, Stewart, and winner Donat.

*Love Affair* - The original and my favorite of the three because of Irene Dunne and in spite of Boyer.

*Mr. Smith Goes To Washington* - Gives a portrayal of politics that, unfortunately, rings all too true today. If this film had been made in 1938, this would have been one of Capra's Best Picture winners.

*Ninotchka* - Garbo as a comedienne and Communism as comic material? But it works mainly because of the Ernst Lubitsch touch.

*Of Mice and Men* - Heavy stuff from the Hal Roach studios. Only because it came out in 1939 is this one not more widely celebrated today.

*Stagecoach* - John Wayne got a starring role in Fox's The Big Trail in 1930. After that film bombed, he rode out the depression in a multitude of forgettable B movies until he got this role. It's hard to believe John Ford was told he was committing professional suicide by directing a Western in 1939 - his first in the sound era.

*Wizard of Oz* - Judy Garland at her juvenile best and a most memorable fantasy I've loved since childhood.

*Wuthering Heights* - Probably my least favorite of all of the nominees, not to say it is bad or even mediocre. It's just filled with unlikeable characters doing bad things for all the wrong reasons with nobody willing to let go of a grudge or the past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unjustly omitted films: Frankly my dear, I can't think of any.

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> {quote:title=diana.g1990 wrote:}{quote}@calvinnme, maybe we can consider Gunga Din for being snubbed at the 1939 Oscars for a Best Picture nomination?

>

I'd agree, I'm just not sure which one of the ten nominees I'd knock out of the running to insert Gunga Din. There were just so many excellent films made in 1939.

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1940

The first full year of WWII is underway in Europe.

The first year the winners are in sealed envelopes.

 

 

Rebecca (Selznick International Pictures) -Winner is on DVD and in print.

All This and Heaven Too (Warner Bros) - On DVD and in print but prices are a bit high.

Foreign Correspondent (Walter Wanger Productions/United Artists) - On out of print DVD at high prices.

The Grapes of Wrath (Fox) - On DVD and in print.

The Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin Productions/United Artists) -On DVD and Blu via Criterion.

Kitty Foyle (RKO) - On out of print DVD at widely ranging prices.

The Letter (Warner Bros) - On DVD and in print.

The Long Voyage Home (Walter Wanger Productions/United Artists) - On out of print DVD and being scalped.

Our Town (Sol Lesser Productions/United Artists) - In public domain and on DVD in some really horrendous transfers.

The Philadelphia Story(MGM) - On DVD and in print.

 

 

My favorite film of the year and of the nominees is *The Philadelphia Story ,* which is a great unconventional look at the idle rich and at the self made man. Katharine Hepburn purchased rights to the script and set up the deal with MGM herself as a vehicle to get her out of the box office poison era of her career. It worked. James Stewart won a Best Actor Oscar for a part that obviously was not a leading role, and was probably consolation for not winning for Mr. Smith Goes To Washington the previous year. The only part I don't like is Hepburn's character groveling to her dad in apology. Dad played around with showgirls because the wife was getting older and less shapely and because he wanted to, not because of daughterly deficiency. How dare him blame his failings on her.

A close second is *The Great Dictator*. Chaplin had a tendency to get too sentimental as time went on but Chaplin as a Hitler clone and Oakie as a Mussolini clone are a delight.

*The Letter* has Davis' acting going for it plus some ridiculous plot points dictated by the production code. Great fun watching Herbert Marshall play the lover in the1929 version and the cuckolded husband in the 1940 version.

I have never seen *Our Town* or *The Long Voyage home*, so I can't comment.

*The Grapes of Wrath* is the first realistic depiction since 1934 of the the problems of the Depression, the powerless poor, and those that treat them like trash, so it must be that the Depression is over. Very

depressing but still a great film.

*All This and Heaven Too* is more Davis at her best in a period piece that mimics an actual murder and scandal in 1847 France.

*Kitty Foyle* is a real weeper that is well done.

I love Joel McCrea, but *Foreign Correspondent* just wandered too much compared to other Hitchcock films. There are some great action scenes though. I liked Hitchcock's other nominated film for that year, *Rebecca*, much better. Very good character development by Joan Fontaine, and even then Judith Anderson steals the show.

 

Worthy unnominated films: Primrose Path ( I liked it better than Kitty Foyle), My Favorite Wife, Doctor Ehrlich's Magic Bullet, Waterloo Bridge

 

 

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