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Your Favourite Performances from 1930 to present are...


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Before hitting 1936 tomorrow I would just like to mention that I am going with 1936 with regards Garbo’s film, Camille.  She was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for the film in 1937 but Camille was released in December 1936.

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As we are about to close out 1935, I would like to pay tribute to one of my favourite scenes filmed that year. You might even call it a scene for the ages.

 

It's the legendary scene in The Bride of Frankenstein in which the Monster, wounded and on the run from angry villagers, encounters a small house in the woods occupied by a blind hermit, with whom he makes friends. It's a sequence distinguished by a bizarre combination of quirky humour, clearly the inspiration of director James Whale, and unexpected sensitivity.

 

Karloff is remarkable here, conveying the anguish of a tormented being, but also bringing humour to the scene with his childlike simplicity. At the heart of it, the scene is about loneliness. All those who have felt like outsiders rejected by society at some time in their lives will be able to identify with the Monster here.

 

Almost 40 years later, of course, Mel Brooks did his hilarious sendup of the scene in Young Frankenstein, with Peter Boyle as the Monster getting hot soup in his lap courtesy Gene Hackman's blind hermit. Even with the hysterical laughter of this sequence (Brooks at his most inspired), you can still feel the director's affection for James Whale's original.

 

Then, in 1998, came director Bill Condon's Gods and Monsters, his largely fictionalized account of the last year in the life of James Whale. At one point in the film Condon shows The Bride of Frankenstein being played on a television set in a small diner. The young 20-somethings watching the film are, initially, laughing at it and making comments. As the film proceeds, however, they start to become more captured by it.

 

Various clips from Bride appear on the small TV. At one point Brendan Fraser watching the film comments that the Monster is lonely and wants a mate, there's nothing funny about that. The wise cracks disappear at that moment from the younger people, for they, too, can identify with that sentiment. It's a universal truth about the need for companionship in the blind hermit scene which continues to make it as powerful as it is over 80 years later.

 

Bride-of-Frankenstein-2.jpg

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ANightattheOperaStateroom_zpssbdnvvdd.jp

Well, Tom I don't think we can leave 1935 before paying special tribute to my favourite film and performances of that year, namely The Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera.

Such comic genius springing from the minds of Morrie Riskind and George S. Kaufman.  You have to wonder if they were having some fun coming up with scenarios such as the stateroom sequence.

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ANightattheOperaStateroom_zpssbdnvvdd.jp

Well, Tom I don't think we can leave 1935 before paying special tribute to my favourite film and performances of that year, namely The Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera.

Such comic genius springing from the minds of Morrie Riskind and George S. Kaufman.  You have to wonder if they were having some fun coming up with scenarios such as the stateroom sequence.

 

"Is my Aunt Minnie in here?"

 

"Well, if she's not, you can probably find someone just as good."

 

That has got to be the least lonely scene of 1935.

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Before hitting 1936 tomorrow I would just like to mention that I am going with 1936 with regards Garbo’s film, Camille.  She was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for the film in 1937 but Camille was released in December 1936.

 

 

 

Okay, Bogie I will alter my list of seen films per year to accommodate this.

 

 

Thanks for the heads up.

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Camille is another I should rewatch. I just saw it once, around 25 years ago, and didn't like it at all. It bored me silly, and while I like Garbo now, I hadn't seen her before when I watched Camille, and subsequently I avoided her films for years. Thankfully, I overcame that, and have grown to like her and a few of her films. Robert Taylor stills remains my least favorite classic era male star, though.

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Camille is another I should rewatch. I just saw it once, around 25 years ago, and didn't like it at all. It bored me silly, and while I like Garbo now, I hadn't seen her before when I watched Camille, and subsequently I avoided her films for years. Thankfully, I overcame that, and have grown to like her and a few of her films. Robert Taylor stills remains my least favorite classic era male star, though.

 

It's ironic how your opinion of movie stars can change when you see more of their work or you get older.

 

 

Garbo was so closely identified with depressing character endings and yet when peoples ay her name I first think of Ninochka.

 

As for Robert Taylor, I can take him or leave him.  I don't care for him in dramas at all but he has made me laugh so hard I start to hyperventilate in his comedies.

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Before hitting 1936 tomorrow I would just like to mention that I am going with 1936 with regards Garbo’s film, Camille.  She was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for the film in 1937 but Camille was released in December 1936.

Thanks, Bogie. This means that Garbo's Camille will be competing with a different Irene Dunne performance.

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Camille is another I should rewatch. I just saw it once, around 25 years ago, and didn't like it at all. It bored me silly, and while I like Garbo now, I hadn't seen her before when I watched Camille, and subsequently I avoided her films for years. Thankfully, I overcame that, and have grown to like her and a few of her films. Robert Taylor stills remains my least favorite classic era male star, though.

 

I feel lucky that I first saw most of the Garbo 1930's films on the big screen at revue shows in the 1970's.  She definitely had a magic quality that was only amplified with a cinema experience.

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I feel lucky that I first saw most of the Garbo 1930's films on the big screen at revue shows in the 1970's.  She definitely had a magic quality that was only amplified with a cinema experience.

 

When I was just getting into studio-era movies I also was exposed to Garbo on the big screen at art houses and other revival theaters in Hollywood.    Such an experience to a novice did add a magic quality that amplified her screen persona.     I was exposed to Bette Davis and Bogart in a similar way before these type of theaters and associated events closed down (for the most part).

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When I was just getting into studio-era movies I also was exposed to Garbo on the big screen at art house and other revival theaters in Hollywood.    Such an experience to a novice did add a magic quality that amplified her screen persona.     I was exposed to Bette Davis and Bogart in a similar way before these type of theaters and associated events closed down (for the most part).

 

Yes, I saw about 20 Bogart films in the cinema for the first time thanks to the film director at the Ontario Science Centre, Gerald Pratley. That cinema can be seen at the start of Gorillas In the Mist when Sigourney Weaver is giving a lecture.  Pratley has a walk on in the lobby scene that follows.  I tried to add his name to the credits of that film on the imdb but they are locked.

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I feel lucky that I first saw most of the Garbo 1930's films on the big screen at revue shows in the 1970's.  She definitely had a magic quality that was only amplified with a cinema experience.

 

We never had anything like that around here. I wish we had. I used to dream of opening a theater here that showed only older films, but it never made financial sense. I'd be lucky if I had 15 customers a week.

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This week I will still spread out my categories but as I am singing on Palm Sunday, rehearsal on Tuesday, Good Friday , and Easter Sunday,  here are my proposed days to reveal categories and I hope it is acceptable:

 

 

1)  Sunday- Juvenile and unique categories

 

2) Monday - Best Ensemble

 

3) Tuesday - Best Supporting Actor

 

4) Wednesday - Best Supporting Actress

 

5) Thursday - Best Actor and Best Actress

 

6) Friday - Nothing at all

 

7) Saturday - To See films of 1936 based upon recommendations.

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This is just a reminder that like the Top Ten Films thread we will do a decade review list - Best Performances of the 1930's. This will happen for one day when we conclude 1939 and before moving on to 1940 in about a month's time.  I am going to recap only my winners in each of the four acting categories for each year of the 1930’s.  If you have had ties this will be the time to pick just one for this list.  You can add Juvenile performances to the 2 lead and 2 supporting lists if you like.  And within the recap I am also going to select one from each category that I consider the best of the decade.  My best Actor Recap would look like this so far with the ****’s denoting my choice for the best of the decade…

 

1930 Emil Jannings, The Blue Angel

1931 Peter Lorre, M ****

1932 Marx Brothers, Horse Feathers

1933 Charles Laughton, The Private Life of Henry VIII

 

So please keep note of your winners in each category if you wish to participate in the decade review after we have completed 1939 some weeks from now.  It will be interesting to see if there is a consensus in some years.

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It’s time for 1936.  We will be on 1936 for one week so plenty of time for everyone to respond.

 

Here are Oscar’s choices for 1936.  Winners in bold. 

 

1936 Oscars

 

Best Actor

 

Paul Muni, The Story of Louis Pasteur*  

Gary Cooper, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Walter Huston, Dodsworth

William Powell, My Man Godfrey

Spencer Tracy, San Francisco

 

Best Actress

 

Luise Rainer, The Great Ziegfeld*  

Irene Dunne, Theodora Goes Wild

Gladys George, Valiant Is the Word For Carrie

Carole Lombard, My Man Godfrey

Norma Shearer, Romeo and Juliet  

 

Best Supporting Actor

 

Walter Brennan, Come and Get It*  

Mischa Auer, My Man Godfrey

Stuart Erwin, Pigskin Parade

Basil Rathbone, Romeo and Juliet

Akim Tamiroff, The General Died at Dawn

 

Best Supporting Actress

 

Gale Sondergaard, Anthony Adverse*  

Beulah Bondi, The Gorgeous Hussy

Alice Brady, My Man Godfrey

Bonita Granville, These Three

Maria Ouspenskaya, Dodsworth

 

I’ll comment on Spencer Tracy and Stuart Erwin’s nominations in the next post.

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Many of us would probably agree that Oscar sometimes gets it wrong when deciding whether a performance belongs in the lead or supporting categories.  In recent years it is the studios who often put forward actors in the supporting categories so as not to split the vote with a co-lead or to take advantage of billing and thereby increase someone’s chances of taking home a statue.  As we go along I am going to mention some instances where I think Oscar got their Acting categories wrong.

 

In 1936, Oscar put Spencer Tracy in the lead Actor category for San Francisco.  This was obviously done because Tracy was a major studio star.  Personally, I would put him in the Supporting category for that film based on the size of his part.

 

It has been a while since I have seen Pigskin Parade but I am thinking that Stuart Erwin’s role in that film was that of a lead and he rightfully belongs in that category.  He may have ended up in the supporting category because he wasn’t a huge star.

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I have three choices for the Juvenile performance of 1936.  One male and one female lead and one supporting:

 

Freddie Bartholomew (Cedric Errol, Lord Fauntleroy), Little Lord Fauntleroy

Shirley Temple (Barbara Barrie/“Bessie Ware”/“Bonnie Dolan”), Poor little Rich Girl

Marcia Mae Jones (Rosalie Wells), These Three

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I'm on London time at the moment, so I'll begin:

 

1936 Favorites

 
Best Actor
 
Warner Baxter (The Prisoner of Shark Island)
Lionel Barrymore (The Devil Doll)
Rex Ingram (The Green Pastures)
Boris Karloff (The Invisible Ray)
Fredric March (Anthony Adverse)
Paul Muni (The Story of Louis Pasteur)
Tyrone Power (Lloyd’s of London)
 
Best Actress
 
Madeleine Carroll (Lloyd’s of London)
Olivia de Havilland (Anthony Adverse)
Irene Dunne (Show Boat)
Gladys George (Valient Is the Word for Carrie)
Gloria Holden (Dracula’s Daughter)
Silvia Sidney (Sabotage, and The Trail of the Lonesome Pine)
Mae West (Klondike Annie) "Fah Wong, turn back the bedsheets! I'm headed for the arms of Morpheus!"
 
Best Supporting Actor
 
Edmund Gwenn (Anthony Adverse)
Harold Huber (Klondike Annie)
Claude Rains (Anthony Adverse)
George Sanders (Lloyd’s of London)
Akim Tamiroff (Anthony Adverse)
Charles Winninger (Show Boat)
 
Best Supporting Actress
 
Mary Astor (Dodsworth)
Beulah Bondi (The Trail of the Lonesome Pine)
Violet Kemble Cooper (The Invisible Ray)
Helen Morgan (Show Boat)
Rafaela Ottiano (The Devil Doll)
Jessie Ralph (San Francisco)
Gale Sondergaard (Anthony Adverse) "You're so wise and so clever. But I know something that would kill you, if you knew!"
 
Best performance by Nature in all her glory: Partie de Campagne
Best musical performance of the year: Paul Robeson “Old Man River” (Show Boat)
Best music performance/runner up: Fred Astaire, “Never Gonna Dance” (Swing Time)
Best music performance circumventing the Hays Code: Mae West "I'm an Occidental Woman in an Oriental Mood for Love" (Klondike Annie)
Best song written for a movie: "The Way You Look Tonight" (Swing Time)
Best music score: Erich Wolfgang Korngold (Anthony Adverse)
Best dance performance: Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” (Follow the Fleet)
Best  child performances: Freddie Bartholomew and Douglas Scott (Lloyd’s of London); `Billy Mauch (Anthony Adverse); Spanky McFarland (The Trail of the Lonesome Pine); Marcia Mae Jones (These Three)
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My 1936 Favourites, In Approximate Order of Preference:

 

BEST ACTOR

 

Charles Laughton, REMBRANDT

Charlie Chaplin, MODERN TIMES

William Powell, MY MAN GODFREY

Walter Huston, DODSWORTH

Gary Cooper, DESIRE

 

Honourable Mention:

 

William Powell in After the Thin Man, Gary Cooper in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Clark Gable in San Francisco, Warner Baxter in Prisoner of Shark Island, William Powell in Libelled Lady, Robert Donat in Ghost Goes West, Leslie Howard in Petrified Forest, Paul Muni in Story of Louis Pasteur, Warner Baxter in Road to Glory.

 

BEST ACTRESS:

 

Greta Garbo, CAMILLE

Jean Arthur, MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN

Carole Lombard, MY MAN GODFREY

Miriam Hopkins, THESE THREE

Jeanette MacDonald, ROSE MARIE

 

Honourable Mention:

 

Ruth Chatterton in Dodsworth, Myrna Loy in After the Thin Man, Madeleine Carroll in General Died at Dawn, Paulette Goddard in Modern Times, Marlene Dietrich in Desire, Irene Dunne in Show Boat, Jean Harlow in Wife Versus Secretary, Myrna Loy in Libelled Lady, Bette Davis in Petrified Forest.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

 

Humphrey Bogart, PETRIFIED FOREST

Henry Daniell, CAMILLE

C. Aubrey Smith, LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY

Mischa Auer, MY MAN GODFREY

Eugene Pallette, MY MAN GODFREY

 

Honourable Mention:

 

Charles Winninger in Show Boat, Akim Tamiroff in General Died at Dawn, Peter Lorre in Secret Agent, John Carradine in Prisoner of Shark Island, C. Henry Gordon in Charge of the Light Brigade.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

 

Mary Astor, DODSWORTH

Alma Kruger, THESE THREE

Alice Brady, MY MAN GODFREY

Elsa Lanchester, REMBRANDT

Helen Morgan, SHOW BOAT

 

Honourable Mention:

 

Genevieve Tobin in Petrified Forest, Laura Hope Crews in Camille.

 

BEST CHILD ACTOR:

 

Bonita Granville, THESE THREE

 

Enjoyable Ham of the Year Award:

 

Claude Rains, ANTHONY ADVERSE

 

Special "Boo! Hiss!" Award:

 

Charles Middleton as Ming the Merciless, FLASH GORDON

 

Special "It Never Did That To Me" Award:

 

The cast of REEFER MADNESS

 

reefer_madness_reverse.gif

 

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Three special awards all involve COME AND GET IT:

 

1935/1936 Tag Team Directors Award to Howard Hawks and William Wyler - In 1935 Wyler began BARBARY COAST, but was fired and replaced by Hawks. In 1936 Hawks began COME AND GET IT, but was fired and replaced by Wyler.

 

Best Half-Performance of 1936 Award to Frances Farmer for COME AND GET IT. The hard-edged saloon gal she plays in the first half of the film is so much more interesting than the nice rich girl she plays in the second half. That's the fault of the script, not Miss Farmer.

 

Yumpin Yiminy Award to Walter Brennan - given to any actor doing a Swedish accent. It is not essential, but preferable, that the actor utter the phrase "Yumpin' Yiminy" at some point in the film. This award was eventually retired after numerous wins by John Qualen.

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Now that two of you have put Mary Astor in the supporting category, so will I. It's been a long time since I saw THE PETRIFIED FOREST, so I'm not sure exactly how those performances measure up against the others.

 

Best Actor of 1936:

 

William Powell, MY MAN GODFREY*

Walter Huston, DODSWORTH

Charles Chaplin, MODERN TIMES

Leslie Howard, THE PETRIFIED FOREST

Melvyn Douglas, THEODORA GOES WILD

 

Honorable mention: William Powell, LIBELED LADY; Spencer Tracy, LIBELED LADY; Spencer Tracy, FURY

 

Best Actress of 1936:

 

Greta Garbo, CAMILLE*

Irene Dunne, SHOW BOAT

Irene Dunne, THEODORA GOES WILD

Frances Farmer, COME AND GET IT

Carole Lombard, MY MAN GODFREY

Bette Davis, THE PETRIFIED FOREST

 

Honorable mention: Paulette Goddard, MODERN TIMES; Jean Harlow, LIBELED LADY; Miriam Hopkins, THESE THREE; Merle Oberon, THESE THREE; Rosalind Russell, CRAIG'S WIFE; Sylvia Sidney, FURY

 

Best Supporting Actor of 1936:

 

Henry Stephenson, BELOVED ENEMY*

Eugene Pallette, MY MAN GODFREY

Humphrey Bogart, THE PETRIFIED FOREST

Donald Crisp, BELOVED ENEMY

Paul Robeson, SHOW BOAT

 

Honorable mention: Spencer Tracy, SAN FRANCISCO

 

Best Supporting Actress of 1936:

 

Mary Astor, DODSWORTH*

Gail Patrick, MY MAN GODFREY

Bonita Granville, THESE THREE

Myrna Loy, LIBELED LADY

Karen Morley, BELOVED ENEMY

 

Honorable mention: Maria Ouspenskaya, DODSWORTH

 

 

 

 

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Best Half-Performance of 1936 Award to Frances Farmer for COME AND GET IT. The hard-edged saloon gal she plays in the first half of the film is so much more interesting than the nice rich girl she plays in the second half. That's the fault of the script, not Miss Farmer.

 

 

 

True. The tragic Frances Farmer, unfortunately, would never again be given the opportunity to realize the potential she revealed in her portrayal of the saloon thrush in this film. She's hard edged but shows vulnerability, as well. Thanks, kingrat, for acknowledging this lovely characterization in the film's first half before the actress then got saddled with the sweet-as-sugar daughter role in the same production.

 

come-and-get-it-frances-farmer-1936.jpg

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The New York Film Critics Circle Awards for 1936 were:

 

Best Actor

Walter Huston, Dodsworth*

Spencer Tracy, Fury

Gary Cooper, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

 

Best Actress

Luise Rainer, The Great Ziegfeld*

Ruth Chatterton, Dodsworth

Norma Shearer, Romeo and Juliet

 
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Now that two of you have put Mary Astor in the supporting category, so will I. It's been a long time since I saw THE PETRIFIED FOREST, so I'm not sure exactly how those performances measure up against the others.

 

I think Mary Astor gave a particularly great performance in Dodsworth. From the start of her career, right up to and including Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, she gave many great performances.

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