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what would YOUR best picture choice (1933-1936) have been?


DickLindsay
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I was looking this morning at a list of early Academy Award contenders and the actual winners.  I think my choices for most of the BEST PICTURE categories would be different. Here are the lists of nominees  and winners (winners are first on the list in BOLD).  I've added my thoughts on which film I would have chosen and would be curious to hear thoughts of others on the TCM forum.

 


1932/33
Cavalcade
42nd Street
A Farewell to Arms
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Lady for a Day
Little Women
The Private Life of Henry VIII
She Done Him Wrong
Smilin' Through
State Fair
 
Hands down, there's only once choice here to for me: LITTLE WOMEN.
 
The film is nothing short of sheer perfection. Everyone in it was wonderful, the script was terrific and it was filmed beautifully.  I was lucky enough to meet one of the stars FRANCES DEE and I told her that LITTLE WOMEN was one of my favorite films and that I don't know how many times I've seen it.  She responded that George Cukor was responsible adding that he did a wonderful job with his direction of the film.
 

1w.jpg

 
1934
It Happened One Night 
The Barretts of Wimpole Street
Cleopatra
Flirtation Walk
The Gay Divorcee
Here Comes the Navy
The House of Rothschild
Imitation of Life
One Night of Love
The Thin Man
Viva Villa!
The White Parade
 
From this list,  I would choose IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT.  I know most everyone remembers the great hitch-hiking scene, but I like the scene when Clark Gable gives us a demonstration of "how a man undresses" (I think that scene must have got in just before the code).
 
However, I would give a very close runner-up to  THE GAY DIVORCEE because, as a musical, it stands out when you compare it to other musicals of the day. 
 
 
 
1935
Mutiny on the Bounty
Alice Adams
Broadway Melody of 1936
Captain Blood
David Copperfield
The Informer
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Les Misérables
Naughty Marietta
Ruggles of Red Gap
Top Hat
 
Couple of good choices here. Broadway Melody of 1936 is difficult to get through now (the non--musical scenes), and I'm not a big fan of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.  While I do like Mutiny on the Bounty very much, my pick for Best Picture on this list would definitely be ALICE ADAMS.  It's really wonderful with a terrific performance by Katharine Hepburn and direction by George Stevens, and supporting actress Hattie McDaniels was great too.
 
Bette Davis won the Best Actress that year for DANGEROUS but she always said it was a consolation prize because she wasn't nominated for OF HUMAN BONDAGE, and the award really should have went to Katharine Hepburn for ALICE ADAMS.  
 
1936
The Great Ziegfeld
Anthony Adverse
Dodsworth
Libeled Lady
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Romeo and Juliet
San Francisco
The Story of Louis Pasteur
A Tale of Two Cities
Three Smart Girls
 
I like GREAT ZIEGFELD and would go with the Academy's choice on this one.  It's great to see some of Ziegfeld's stars in the film especially Ray Bolger and Fanny Brice.  Although, I am always disappointed that the camera moves away from Ms. Brice while she is singing her famous song, and it doesn't go back to her... Consequently, we don't see her finishing the song!  Billie Burke was supposed to play herself but dropped out.  
 
I love the spectacle of the musical numbers which probably emulate a Ziegfeld show from the early part of the 20th century.
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Interesting topic... In these early years the Academy obviously had different criteria for picking movies from what they have today, and we must remember that if a film from these years is considered a classic today it doesn't mean it was considered to be the best when it was released...

 

In 1933, I think that the best few films weren't even nominated. My personal favorites have always been classic comedies SONS OF THE DESERT and DUCK SOUP, along with the great comedy-drama DINNER AT EIGHT. From the films that got a nomination, I would go with LITTLE WOMEN for its artistic quality (and Katharine Hepburn) or SHE DONE HIM WRONG for its influence, and surely not with the winner CAVALCADE.

 

In 1934, there is little doubt in my opinion. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT is one of the first films resembling a modern one with classic performances from Gable and Colbert, and it's still considered one of the best. Alternatives to this could be THE THIN MAN or THE GAY DIVORCEE with the great duo of Astaire and Rogers, but I think that the film that won the award deserved to win. And you're right, it was released a couple of months before the Code was enforced.

 

In 1935 and 1936, I believe that the films that won the Best Director Award, THE INFORMER and MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, should also win Best Picture (especially the latter). In 1935, ALICE ADAMS, TOP HAT and the eventual winner MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY are fine films and along with the film I mentioned in the beginning they all could win the award, but for the next year, I don't like THE GREAT ZIEGFELD very much, and I think that Frank Capra's film has influenced his entire career and the leading stars, Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur, performed very well.

 

I hope my answers are clear and enlightening, and I think the topic is quite open for discussion. 

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  • 6 months later...

Well, let me clear. There will always be a difference of opinion in this topic.

According to me,

  • In 1934 there was a movie by Frank Capra "It Happened One Night" was arguably the best movie. Also Capra's imagination and style is one that changed the outlook of American films during those times.
  • And in 35 and 36 "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "The Tale of Two Cities" are one of the finest movies. Let me tell you something, there have been a few remakes for the big screen and TV but none come even close to the brilliance of this film.
  • Now lets come back, the 1933 version of KING KONG, is for me, the greatest film ever made. Sure, there are films with far better special effects (THE MATRIX, JURASSIC PARK) better acting but KING KONG is a film of tremendous excitement. (Note: The only film I loved of the year 1933 is this one).
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I usually forget to check out any forum but General Discussions. Glad I stumbled across this thread.

 

If I can pick ANY film, my winners would be:

 

1933 KING KONG

1934 IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT

1935 THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

1936 MY MAN GODFREY

 

If I have to pick from the list of nominees, I would say

1933 THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY VIII

1935 TOP HAT

1936 DODSWORTH

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Based on the nominees, I would pick:

 

1933: Little Women (though Big Women aka She Done Him Wrong is my second choice).

 

1934: Can't make up my mind, but not It Happened One Night. Of the nominees, I like House of Rothschild, The Thin Man, and The Gay Divorcee.

 

1935 A Midsummer Night's Dream (since Peter Ibbetson and A Tale of Two Cities weren't nominated).

 

1936 Anthony Adverse

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  • 2 weeks later...

1933 42 Second Street

1934 IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT

1935 Captain Blood

1936 Dodsworth

Great choices!  I really love the early 30's films and have watched many.  I like all of the above titles,  and a few that come to mind I viewed a number of years ago when a friend out of state I traded with sent me hundreds of VHS tapes!  These come to mind -

 

Devotion with Ann Harding and Leslie Howard,

Employee's Entrance with Loretta Young and Warren William, 

Skyscraper Souls with Warren William and Maureen O'Sullivan,

Walls of Gold with Sally Eilers and Ralph Morgan

Doctor's Wives with Loretta Young and Warner Baxter

My Woman with Helen Twelvetrees and Victor Jory

Ann Vickers with Irene Dunne

The Lady Refuses with Betty Compson

 

There is something very special about the pre-code era,  When I first started watching these about 10 or 12 years ago it struck me that

 many of the situations are relevant today though handled differently at times.  Loretta Young, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Claudette Colbert, Barbara Stanwyck, (to name a few -- Whew! )   radiate talent and charm in their roles.  I developed a real liking for these actresses and actors -  Charles Boyer, George Brent, Leslie Howard, Warren William, Victor Jory - and others too numerous to mention.  I became aware of many I had not heard of - Madge Evans, Sally Eilers, Anita Page, etc.  THough Film Noir is my favorite time period and genre recently I always return to my parents' Favorites, the early 30's.

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I was looking this morning at a list of early Academy Award contenders and the actual winners.  I think my choices for most of the BEST PICTURE categories would be different. Here are the lists of nominees  and winners (winners are first on the list in BOLD).  I've added my thoughts on which film I would have chosen and would be curious to hear thoughts of others on the TCM forum.

 

 

1932/33
Cavalcade
42nd Street
A Farewell to Arms
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Lady for a Day
Little Women
The Private Life of Henry VIII
She Done Him Wrong
Smilin' Through
State Fair
 
Hands down, there's only once choice here to for me: LITTLE WOMEN.
 
The film is nothing short of sheer perfection. Everyone in it was wonderful, the script was terrific and it was filmed beautifully.  I was lucky enough to meet one of the stars FRANCES DEE and I told her that LITTLE WOMEN was one of my favorite films and that I don't know how many times I've seen it.  She responded that George Cukor was responsible adding that he did a wonderful job with his direction of the film.
 

 

1w.jpg

 
1934
It Happened One Night 
The Barretts of Wimpole Street
Cleopatra
Flirtation Walk
The Gay Divorcee
Here Comes the Navy
The House of Rothschild
Imitation of Life
One Night of Love
The Thin Man
Viva Villa!
The White Parade
 
From this list,  I would choose IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT.  I know most everyone remembers the great hitch-hiking scene, but I like the scene when Clark Gable gives us a demonstration of "how a man undresses" (I think that scene must have got in just before the code).
 
However, I would give a very close runner-up to  THE GAY DIVORCEE because, as a musical, it stands out when you compare it to other musicals of the day. 
 
 
 
1935
Mutiny on the Bounty
Alice Adams
Broadway Melody of 1936
Captain Blood
David Copperfield
The Informer
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Les Misérables
Naughty Marietta
Ruggles of Red Gap
Top Hat
 
Couple of good choices here. Broadway Melody of 1936 is difficult to get through now (the non--musical scenes), and I'm not a big fan of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.  While I do like Mutiny on the Bounty very much, my pick for Best Picture on this list would definitely be ALICE ADAMS.  It's really wonderful with a terrific performance by Katharine Hepburn and direction by George Stevens, and supporting actress Hattie McDaniels was great too.
 
Bette Davis won the Best Actress that year for DANGEROUS but she always said it was a consolation prize because she wasn't nominated for OF HUMAN BONDAGE, and the award really should have went to Katharine Hepburn for ALICE ADAMS.  
 
1936
The Great Ziegfeld
Anthony Adverse
Dodsworth
Libeled Lady
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Romeo and Juliet
San Francisco
The Story of Louis Pasteur
A Tale of Two Cities
Three Smart Girls
 
I like GREAT ZIEGFELD and would go with the Academy's choice on this one.  It's great to see some of Ziegfeld's stars in the film especially Ray Bolger and Fanny Brice.  Although, I am always disappointed that the camera moves away from Ms. Brice while she is singing her famous song, and it doesn't go back to her... Consequently, we don't see her finishing the song!  Billie Burke was supposed to play herself but dropped out.  
 
I love the spectacle of the musical numbers which probably emulate a Ziegfeld show from the early part of the 20th century.

 

A wonderful list!  I too would choose Little Women.  From the very beginning music to the end the movie is fantastic!  Our daughter loved watching in her teens and is now in her 20's.  She likes to watch different versions of films and just finished watching the 90's version of Little Women which I watched with her.  THough it was well done, I would choose this version at the top.  I love the 40's one with June Allyson too, but this film is tops with me. 

 

To have met Frances Dee must have been a thrill!  She and her hubby and fellow actor Joel McCrea are 2 of my Golden Age favorites.  I have seen Frances in Finishing School, The Silver Cord and other pre-codes which were outstanding films as well.

 

Another great film from '32 was Back Street with Irene Dunne and John Boles.  It was re-made very well in the 40's with Margaret Sullavan and Charles Boyer and with Susan Hayward and John Gavin in the early 60's.

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Well, let me clear. There will always be a difference of opinion in this topic.

According to me,

  • In 1934 there was a movie by Frank Capra "It Happened One Night" was arguably the best movie. Also Capra's imagination and style is one that changed the outlook of American films during those times.
  • And in 35 and 36 "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "The Tale of Two Cities" are one of the finest movies. Let me tell you something, there have been a few remakes for the big screen and TV but none come even close to the brilliance of this film.
  • Now lets come back, the 1933 version of KING KONG, is for me, the greatest film ever made. Sure, there are films with far better special effects (THE MATRIX, JURASSIC PARK) better acting but KING KONG is a film of tremendous excitement. (Note: The only film I loved of the year 1933 is this one).

 

You're right, there will always be differing opinions.  It Happened One Night is one of the best early 30's films.  Gable and Colbert were marvelous in their roles.

 

I agree!  No one could top the brilliance and superb acting of the A Tale of Two Cities.  Ronald Colman and Elizabeth Allen were marvelous in their roles as well as a fine supporting cast with Basil Rathbone,  Edna Mae Oliver, Blanche Yurka, etc,

 

Mutiny on the Bounty '35 is the very best version of this film.  THe cast, fine acting with Clark Gable heading the cast is marvelous.

 

No doubt about it according to me , of course.  King Kong '33 surpasses any other version!   It is one of the best of '33 films,   The special effects are certainly different and are still very impressive and realistic  even today.  (I did see it on TV when I was a kid in the 60's.  I was not aware of the miniatures that were used with the buildings, etc. at the time).  THat to me is even more impressive and inventive!  Today's CGI is good, but so were the fine graphic of yesteryear! :)

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I wanted to add my acclaim for THe Barretts of WImpole Street '34.  It is nothing short of sheer genius.  The beautiful words and music of a song Elizabeth Barrett Browning had written really stirs the soul (well, my soul and many others).  Norma Shearer is marvelous in the role of Elizabeth and actually sang the lyrics of the song.  CHarles Laughton was also superb as the tyrannical father of the Barrett children.  (I just re-watched this film last week and love it more with every viewing).

 

David Copperfield  '34  really stirs one's soul as well.  Freddie Bartholomew is wonderful portraying David as a child.  A great supporting cast with the great Edna Mae Oliver as Aunt Betsy and Basil Rathbone as David's evil stepfather enhance the film still more.  Again, Elizabeth Allen turns in a fine performance as David's fragile mother who died giving birth to a new baby.

 

Of course I will have to watch these fine movies again and also Frances Dee's Little Women  '33.   And though Film Noir seems to be my favorite in recent years, I always return to the fine films of the 30's and 40's.   

 

I remember when my big sister and I were growing up in the 50's and 60's and watched many of these films on TV as kids.  Our dad said they would never be able to duplicate the marvelous films of the 30's.  Mom said the 40's appealed to her the most.  Now that I have come full circle, I find that they were both right!  And though I enjoy a 50's or 60's or more recent film now and then, my heart is with the earlier films!

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  • 1 month later...

I haven't seen many of the films in all these lists.  

 

1932/33, I'd give it to 42nd Street.  

 

1934, I'm torn between The Thin Man and It Happened One Night, but I'd have to give it to the Capra flick, if only because it basically innovated the romantic comedy.

 

1935, Again, I'm torn between Alice Adams, Top Hat and Captain Blood.  I'd probably have to give the edge to Captain Blood.  Not only because it was my beloved Errol's breakout film, but because the film featured some unique camera work and had beautiful costumes and sets.  

 

1936 I haven't seen The Great Ziegfeld, but it sounds like it was probably the best picture.  Personally, of the films on the list I've seen, I really liked Libeled Lady.    

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I haven't seen many of the films in all these lists.  

 

1932/33, I'd give it to 42nd Street.  

 

1934, I'm torn between The Thin Man and It Happened One Night, but I'd have to give it to the Capra flick, if only because it basically innovated the romantic comedy.

 

1935, Again, I'm torn between Alice Adams, Top Hat and Captain Blood.  I'd probably have to give the edge to Captain Blood.  Not only because it was my beloved Errol's breakout film, but because the film featured some unique camera work and had beautiful costumes and sets.  

 

1936 I haven't seen The Great Ziegfeld, but it sounds like it was probably the best picture.  Personally, of the films on the list I've seen, I really liked Libeled Lady.    

 

Surprised you haven't seen THE GREAT ZIEGFELD. It is airing on November 10th on TCM.

 

In the meantime, I am going to have to think about my choices for the other years on the OP's list. I will post again later once I have reflected more about it.

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