The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

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movielocke
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#51 Post by movielocke » Mon May 11, 2009 2:15 am

1937:

The Awful Truth - an excellent film, one of two nommed from this year that I've seen more than once. Not as superb as Make Way for Tomorrow, but it's a surprisingly modern film that is still brilliantly funny

Captains Courageous - despite having Mickey Rooney in the cast, the film is not awful. Tracy is over the top, but terribly sincere and the kid does a good job. One I quite enjoyed.

Dead End - Darker and far better than I expected, rather entertaining.

Good Earth - Fabulous effects work, and performances from Muni and Rainer that are very good, despite the modern day problematics we have with yellow face.

In Old Chicago - Eh. somewhat longish and over melodramatic, not very into this film. :-p

Life of Emile Zola - Very good film that still works quite well, Muni is excellent, as is the actor who plays Dreyfuss.

Lost Horizon - I wasn't terribly enamored by this particular Capra film, though it's an interesting film.

One Hundred Men and a Girl - Would someone please shut up Deanna Durbin. Good God, after 15 minutes of her plaintive moter mouth dialogue I was ready to give up, and then she kicks it into high gear, gets flustered and really starts talking fast. It doesn't really work. the story could almost be charming, but instead it's grating, and it feels much, much longer than 84 minutes.

Stage Door - a masterpiece, mesmerizing and captivating from beginning to end. Performances, photography, dialogue, story, editing all comes together beautifully in this film. and it even improves on repeat viewings. :D

A Star is Born - Very good, and actually my favorite of the three, but I'm still not crazy about it.


My vote: Stage Door

2. The Awful Truth
3. Captains Courageous
4. The Good Earth
5. Dead End
6. The Lost Horizon
7. The Life of Emile Zola
8. A Star is Born
9. In Old Chicago
10. 100 Men and a Girl
Last edited by movielocke on Sat May 16, 2009 2:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

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reno dakota
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#52 Post by reno dakota » Mon May 11, 2009 1:26 pm

1930-31:

Cimarron – A lifeless, overlong ordeal of a movie. There is no craft in Richard Dix’s performance, and Irene Dunne’s work here bears little trace of the presence and charm she would bring to her later roles. Apart from all the bad acting on display, the screenplay is stuffy and antiquated, and too often gives us expository dialogue in place of genuine storytelling. The highlights of the film are its sets (the town of Osage is impressively realized) and its spectacular land grab sequence near the beginning. But, these achievements are paltry when placed among those of the other nominees, and the awarding of this film over the eligible but entirely ignored City Lights is one the Academy’s great blunders.

East Lynne – Unavailable.

The Front Page – Nowhere near as funny or as delightful as His Girl Friday, to which this film pales in comparison (an unfair criticism, I know, but one I cannot help but make). The trouble is that the Walter and Hildy relationship doesn’t make as much sense here as it does in the later film, and their banter doesn’t work quite as well without the sexual tension between them. Nonetheless, the sharp screenplay and fine work from the cast make this a decent film in its own right.

Skippy – A delightfully intimate film that could easily pass for an extended episode of a 1950s television series—the kids are funny, the times are innocent, and everything falls neatly together by the end of the show. Jackie Cooper gives another impressive performance here (his comic sequences are occasionally over the top, but his quiet moments are astonishingly affecting), but he is surrounded by a great deal of bad, overly expressive acting from the other cast members (adults and children alike). Whether the film works for you or not will, I think, depend on whether you find Cooper’s performance endearing.

Trader Horn – A well-paced and fluidly directed film, with stunning on-location photography. The story itself is unremarkable, and there is certainly no shortage of racism and brutality on display here, but I admire the film for its energy and the sheer guts of its production. While watching it, I was reminded of some of Werner Herzog’s work. This film is hardly as rich or as provocative as Herzog’s projects tend to be, but it does have a similarly wild, mad ambition driving it along and the end result is strangely beautiful.

My vote: Another weak year for nominations, with plenty of excellent films overlooked. While I don’t love any of these, I enjoyed Trader Horn the most (just slightly over Skippy).

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movielocke
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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#53 Post by movielocke » Mon May 11, 2009 5:01 pm

1935 - twelve nominations! ugh

Alice Adams - Although I am in general a Hepburn fan, I didn't like this flick at all. I found the story repulsive.

Broadway Melody of 1936 - the best of this 'series' of films, imo. Decent all around, but not spectacular, though it is often quite funny and charming.

Captain Blood - Again, I'm not all that fond of the film, I think it's pretty uneven, I found the pacing to be especially weak. Unlike many thirties films, the content to this one makes me wish for a more modern take on the material.

David Copperfield - I thought this adaptation was appalling and other than Fields did not like anything about the film.

The Informer - Although heavily influence by M, the film is fascinating, dark and beautifully made. It certainly stands out from this particular crowd of nominees.

Les Miserables - a better adaptation than DC, and Laughton is really excellent, but it pales in comparison to the Bernard. I don't hold that against this film though, but it is simply too short to really get the entire emotional impact of the story.

Lives of a Bengal Lancer - I remember this bored me, and I had hoped it would be better.

Midsummer Night's Dream - A not very good adaptation, and iirc mickey Rooney is in this giving the worst performance of Puck of all time.

Mutiny on the Bounty - A very solid film, one I wouldn't mind revisiting. I remember loving the performances in particular.

Naughty Marietta - The ending is a bit abrupt and easy, but MacDonald's voice and songs aren't tremendously pleasant to me. Eddy is fine, the story goes from dull to interesting to dull with the best part being when they are abducted and then later rescued, but once they return to New Orleans it's no longer interesting. This story could be a quite good movie, but it never manages it.

Ruggles of Red Gap - a terrifically funny surprise, and in general a delight all around.

Top Hat - one of the best of the Astaire Rogers pictures, excellent and top notch throughout.

--
My vote. Essentially a three way tie with no truly great movie in the running, but I'll take Ruggles of Red Gap as the best of the lot.

2. Top Hat
2. The Informer
4. Mutiny on the Bounty
5. Broadway Melody of 1936
6. Les Miserables
7. Captain Blood
8. Naughty Marietta
9. Lives of a Bengal Lancer
10. A Midsummer Night's Dream
11. David Copperfield
12. Alice Adams

does anyone know what the availability of Hold Back the Dawn and One Foot in Heaven are? Are they often shown on TCM, have they ever had home video releases?
Last edited by movielocke on Sat May 16, 2009 2:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#54 Post by reno dakota » Fri May 15, 2009 4:43 am

1932-33:

42nd Street – A step up from the Broadway Melody films, but still hampered by some of the same problems that made those films less compelling than they ought to have been. The music and staging are what you would expect—good, solid, though not jaw-dropping—but the screenplay gives the players little to do when they’re not rehearsing or performing. Its first two thirds nearly eroded all of the good will I had toward it going in, but the final twenty minutes and those Busby Berkeley numbers gave the film a strong finish.

A Farewell to Arms – All the ingredients for a great film are here—Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes together, with Borzage at the helm, working from Hemingway material—but the film does not radiate the passion that lies at the core of this story. For too much of its running time, the narrative lacks urgency and, at times, even seems unsure of where it’s going. The conclusion is rousing, but it doesn’t feel genuinely connected to the dramatically inert material that has come before it. The production values, however, are first rate.

Cavalcade – Oscar does love an epic, and that’s no less the case when the film in question is one of the weakest in the field. Banal, overwrought, badly acted and mawkish from start to finish, it’s hard to see why this was the Noel Coward adaptation to garner so much attention and praise (over the vastly superior, and also eligible, Design for Living), or why 17 months worth of films—the longest eligibility period in Oscar history—couldn’t produce a more deserving, less embalmed, winner of the top prize.

I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang! – What a comeback for LeRoy, after the disappointing Five Star Final! Here we have a great film—full-blooded, thrilling and heartbreaking. We follow Paul Muni’s character from a time of great hope to moments of deepest despair, and his performance is so immediate and affecting that it’s hard not to feel the sting of each hard-luck turn along with him. The film does stumble slightly during the climactic legal proceeding (did we really need Hale Hamilton’s preachy monologue when every point it makes has already been driven home, with more subtlety and grace, by Muni’s performance and story arc?), but the rousing final ten minutes are atonement enough for this misstep, and give the film a powerful, albeit bleak, conclusion.

Lady For a Day – A sweet and charming fairytale of a film. The story is engaging, and the performances are quirky and fun, but what I appreciated most was Capra’s light, whimsical shaping of this material (which I much prefer to his more heavy-handed, overly sentimental approach in later projects). This is a good film, for sure, but certainly not an outstanding one.

Little Women – A solid film that succeeds largely due to fine ensemble work from the cast, including a standout performance from Hepburn. She glows in this role, and the film is at its most engaging when she is on screen. However, like many of the nominees from this lot, the film itself is warm and enjoyable without being terribly compelling or remarkable otherwise. I cannot say that I love this one, but I certainly do admire it.

The Private Life of Henry VIII – 94 minutes of Charles Laughton behaving like a wild animal and shoving obscene amounts of roasted meat down his throat. The story itself—covering five of the six wives—is told without much flair, and at such break-neck speed that it’s hard to care about any of the characters (most register as little more than plot points) or events as they zoom past. Perhaps that is a blessing, though, as an epic presentation of this material would have been unbearable.

She Done Him Wrong – A narratively uneven film that seems to have been little more than a showcase for Mae West’s saucy performance and famous dialogue. It’s a short film—clocking in at just 65 minutes—whose elliptical editing gives the impression that significant story developments are missing from the final cut. Still, it’s worth a look for its overall salaciousness and the added treat of a young Cary Grant in a supporting role.

Smilin’ Through – A marginally decent film, but not worthy of much praise. The story itself is rife with implausible coincidences and bone-dry dialogue, but it’s more often engaging than not. The acting, however, is a weak spot. Norma Shearer’s performance as Kathleen is a miscalculation—she often seems to think she’s doing theater, projecting her lines emphatically to the back rows until she really should be exhausted from all the effort—and Leslie Howard does what he can—which is to say, not much—with a character that is little more than a plot obstacle. Fredric March, on the other hand, seems to understand the limitations of this material and turns in a wonderfully understated performance. The film’s best moments are his, and when he was on screen I desperately wanted to see him surrounded by a better film.

State Fair – A sweet and innocent film, with a good performance from Janet Gaynor at its heart. For a pre-Code romantic drama, the film’s attitude to sex and relationships is surprisingly chaste, which is unfortunate, and there is not much dramatic tension to drive the story along. However, the final scene—the one that will stay with you—is passionate, beautifully photographed, and very satisfying.

My vote: I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang!

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Hard to Find Movies (esp. North West Mounted Police)

#55 Post by nighthawk4486 » Tue May 19, 2009 6:57 pm

I've been scouring the web and video stores trying to find a few films on my quest to see all the Oscar nominated films (impossible, I know, thanks to the lost The Patriot and Four Devils, but I'm trying to see how high I can go) and certain movies are proving a real bitch. So any info on any of the following films (other than just waiting for them to show up on TCM) is helpful -

1931-32 - The Guardsman
1931-32 - Transatlantic (Oscar winner)
1932-33 - State Fair (I know Eddie Brandt's in Hollywood is supposed to have this, but I'm looking for something closer to me than 3000 miles)
1934 - The Affairs of Cellini
1935 - The Scoundrel (Oscar winner)
1940 - North West Mounted Police (Oscar winner)
1945 - Marie-Louise (Oscar winner)
1948 - When My Baby Smiles at Me
1950 - Mister 880
1951 - Bright Victory
1951 - The Blue Veil
1956 - The Bold and the Brave
1959 - The Big Fisherman
1963 - Twilight of Honor
1964 - Fate is the Hunter
1968 - The Fox
1969 - Gaily, Gaily
1975 - Lies My Father Told Me
1995 - Dust of Life

There are others as well (I am missing 287 of the 2967 films nominated for feature film Oscars), but these are the ones that are driving me the most nuts. And libraries are not the answer, as I have scoured OCLC for many of these and the only copies around in libraries are copies on film at the UCLA Archive (again, not helpful when I'm in Boston). So any place on the web, any place available to rent, anything is appreciated. And if you have ones that drive you nuts, I'll offer up whatever I might have.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#56 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 19, 2009 11:37 pm

State Fair is up on iOffer for cheap

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#57 Post by nsps » Wed May 20, 2009 2:02 pm

Where have people found The Racket?

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#58 Post by nighthawk4486 » Wed May 20, 2009 9:46 pm

nsps wrote:Where have people found The Racket?
Unfortunately, since I asked people not to just say TCM, that is my answer. It was on TCM either during Oscar month or just before.

By the way, thanks to whoever posted the link to my Best Picture rankings (couldn't find who just now) - it was because of that that I ended up creating this login (it was a closed subject unless you had a login). My four part Best Picture history has my feelings on all the nominees.

And movielocke - I saw One Foot in Heaven last year on TCM (it was the reason I got TCM - so I could finally see it) and Hold Back the Dawn recently showed up in multiple parts on Youtube.

Hold Back the Dawn can be found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ocv69C2K ... re=related

As you've seen if you looked at my full ranking, I have listed all the years, but I'll participate more in depth here. Besides, my numbers fluctuate.

1927-28

Wings - Won Best Picture. I rate it a high ***, almost a ***.5 and it comes in at about #17. Good picture, but not great. I think it's more remembered today for being the first Best Picture.

Seventh Heaven - A very good film. ***.5 My #7 of the year.

The Racket - An okay gangster film. Lower ***. #33 of the year.

Originally, the Oscars listed The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh among the nominees and Inside Oscar lists them. The Way of All Flesh is, sadly, lost. The Last Command is a **** and my #3 of the year. (4 and 5 on my list are The Circus and The Cat and the Canary).

Sunrise - Won Best Artistic Production and absolutely deserved it. Inside Oscar claims that Metropolis was Oscar eligible and thus that is my #1, but Sunrise is definitely #2. A truly great film.

Chang - a good film, a solid ***. #23 of the year.

The Crowd - this is what doesn't win me fans. I thought when my list was posted on Awards Daily that I would be attacked for the low placement of Nashville, but there, like here, this is the film that caught me all the grief. I think the Art Direction and Cinematography are good, but I found the film slow and boring. Vidor has always seemed over-rated to me. Yes, I really rate it at ** and it really is the lowest on my list of the 40 eligible films from that year that I've seen.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#59 Post by movielocke » Wed May 20, 2009 11:17 pm

yes, Eddie Brandt's has State Fair and it's a legit release rather than a loaner list item. I think they do a mail service as well, but I"m not certain. I think they also have North West Mounted Police (or Vidiots has it). Their site is down (has been since I asked my question about Hold Back the Dawn and One Foot in Heaven), and their hours are annoying (I think they close at 6pm PST) but if you call, I'd ask if they have any of those films on their loaner list which is a 'ghost catalog' of films that have never been given an official video release, but have been shown on TV and they recorded them. The loaner list films aren't officially available for rent, but they are free to rent so long as you rent a regular catalog release. That's how I saw Make Way for Tomorrow long before the r2 dvd showed up, that's how you can see Kubrick's short films as well. :) Seeing Fear and Desire is more complicated but if one wanted to, one would be on the right path by starting their search there.

I saw the Racket on TCM last July or so, I think it was on Silent Sunday Nights.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#60 Post by domino harvey » Thu May 21, 2009 5:26 am

Well I just had the horrifying experience of popping in the R1 disc of Joshua Logan's Picnic and seeing the absurd screen telling the viewer that the film has been formatted to fit the screen. Does anyone know if the R2 disc, which was released only a few years ago, is the proper anamorphic 'Scope? If not, where can a copy of the film in the proper aspect ratio be found?

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#61 Post by tojoed » Thu May 21, 2009 5:52 am

The UK DVD is anamorphic 2.35:1.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#62 Post by nighthawk4486 » Thu May 21, 2009 10:12 am

1928-29

Oh god, the worst year for nominees ever.

Broadway Melody - Won Best Picture, the worst ever, the start of the trend of the melody and variety films that didn't really have plots, but just featured a lot of numbers - these were especially popular during WWII and got constant Oscar nominations - not the worst film I've seen from that year because of Coquette

In Old Arizona - barely making ***, a tolerable Western, yet the best of the four available nominees

Alibi - a mediocre crime film

Hollywood Revue of 1929 - the same problems as Broadway Melody

The Patriot - sadly, sadly, lost - almost certainly the best of the nominees

my top 5 eligible films of that year -
Nosferatu (released in the states in 29, probably eligible)
October (Eisenstein's great film)
Steamboat Bill Jr
Napoleon
The Fall of the House of Usher

so 4 of my top 5 for the year were foreign films - top 5 English language -

Steamboat Bill Jr
The Wind
The Wedding March
Street Angel (yes, also nominated in 27-28, but received two nominations in this year)
Divine Lady

still not a great top 5

1929-30

also not a good year for nominees and just not a good year overall - I only have one **** and two ***.5 out of 28 films

All Quiet on the Western Front - far and away the best film of the year - IMO, the best English language film made by this date, third best film made by this date (behind Battleship Potemkin and Metropolis) - stays the best English language film until 1936 (Modern Times) and stays the best film to win Best Picture until 1943 (Casablanca)

Disraeli - okay historical film with a good performance by Arliss - but I still only rank it #17 of the year

The Love Parade - I'm not as big a fan of this as James Leer (kudos if you get that reference) - just an okay musical, just behind Disraeli at #18

The Big House - mediocre prison drama - my second worst film of that year (until I saw Rain or Shine the other day)

The Divorcee - I love Norma Shearer and she was good, but the film is not - my worst film I've seen from that year although Capra's Rain or Shine which was on TCM the other morning comes close

the only films that really deserve mention are All Quiet on the Western Front, City Girl and Arsenal (the Russian film, released in the states in 1930), but the next two films on my list are Hell's Angels (which I obviously don't love as much as Scorsese) and The Great Gabbo

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#63 Post by movielocke » Thu May 21, 2009 7:48 pm

lol at 1928/9 if given the opportunity I would vote for the Patriot, simply because the other four are so bad it couldn't possibly be worse. It's interesting, of those who have voted on that particular year, we have votes for Alibi, In Old Arizona and Hollywood Revue, and none for the actual winner.

It really is easily the worst year of BP nominees ever, and has the added shame of being the only year to lose one of the BP nominees. :/

I went back on the years I've covered and ranked the years' nominees.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#64 Post by reno dakota » Thu May 21, 2009 11:47 pm

movielocke wrote:lol at 1928/9 if given the opportunity I would vote for the Patriot, simply because the other four are so bad it couldn't possibly be worse. It's interesting, of those who have voted on that particular year, we have votes for Alibi, In Old Arizona and Hollywood Revue, and none for the actual winner.
The trailer for The Patriot is better than any of the other four nominees, so I would be happy to see it win the year.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#65 Post by nighthawk4486 » Fri May 22, 2009 7:01 pm

1930-31

Cimarron - winner, but weak film (my #29 of the year) - one of the weakest to win - the remake in 1961 was better

East Lynne - only exists in the UCLA archives

The Front Page - good film, high ***, easily the best of the nominees (my #9 of the year), though far inferior to His Girl Friday - Menjou is very well cast, possibly his best role

Skippy - finally saw this the other day - been trying to see it for years then randomly found that it would be on Retroplex three times in two weeks - very badly dated comedy that ends with ridiculous sappiness - my #30 of the year - **.5

Trader Horn - mediocre adventure film - my #28 of the year, just above Cimarron

My Top 5 of 1930-31
1 - City Lights - without question
2 - Dracula - nowhere close to City Lights and way above any other
3 - Three Penny Opera - great German film
4 - Le Million - great early Rene Clair film
5 - Earth - very good Russian film

if you just want English language, my 3-5 would be Public Enemy, Waterloo Bridge (the Whale version) and Little Caesar, followed by Front Page at #6

1931-32

Grand Hotel - a movie that for me actually gets better over time - recently got bumped from *** to ***.5, comes in at #9 on the year - although of the nominees, I agree it should have won

Shanghai Express - enjoyable film, high ***, comes in at #10

Five Star Final - enjoyable early LeRoy drama - #13

Arrowsmith - not as good as I would have expected given John Ford and Sinclair Lewis - but solid - #14 on the year

Bad Girl - this film drove me nuts for years trying to see it before the Borzage set was finally released - shouldn't have won Best Director or Adapted Screenplay, but a good film - #17

Smiling Lieutenant - okay musical - I'm not a big Lubitsch fan (certainly didn't buy that Eclipse set) - #18

One Hour With You - another Lubitsch musical - not as good, barely a *** - #27 on the year

The Champ - ridiculous sentimentality - almost as bad as the 1979 remake - appalling that just because Beery finished one vote behind March that he also got the Oscar - the worst of 31 films I've seen from this eligibility year

since there were 8 nominees and since I placed Grand Hotel 9th, I should list all 8 to be fair:
1 - Scarface
2 - Vampyr - almost a tie with those top two
3 - Frankenstein
4 - A Nous La Liberte (definitely eligible as it was nominated for Art Direction)
5 - Horse Feathers (second best Marx Brothers comedy)
6 - Freaks - creepy, but very good
7 - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - can't believe it wasn't nominated given the competition
8 - Wooden Crosses - possibly not eligible, in which case Grand Hotel slips in

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#66 Post by reno dakota » Mon May 25, 2009 4:41 am

1934:

The Barretts of Wimpole Street – After a miserably slow beginning, the film improves steadily as it goes along, but sadly it never quite breaks free of its stage roots. The dialogue is stiff, the acting is overly mannered, and the pacing is glacial, but the final half hour is alive and the finish is satisfying.

Cleopatra – It’s hard to imagine that this was ever anyone’s idea of a good film. Perhaps my dissatisfaction has more to do with DeMille’s style than anything else, but just about every aspect of this film irritated me. The screenplay is hackneyed, the acting is both over-the-top and dull, and the set design and costumes are ridiculously garish. I counted down the minutes while watching this one and was relieved when it was over.

Flirtation Walk – A good film, despite its obviously being aimed at selling the virtues of West Point and the Army in general. Dick Powell is good here, if occasionally a bit of a ham, but Pat O’Brien is better. Their father/son sort of relationship is well developed and anchors the film. I also enjoyed the Ruby Keeler storyline and Powell’s elaborate attempt to win her over. Not first-rate Borzage, for sure, but more enjoyable than either Bad Girl or A Farewell to Arms.

The Gay Divorcee – A light and entertaining film, with good chemistry between Astaire and Rogers, and a better plot than Top Hat. The showcase musical number at the end goes on far longer than it has any right to, but it is impressive and fits well within the story.

Here Comes the Navy – Not a great film, but enjoyable nonetheless. The plot is contrived and the tension between the Cagney and O’Brien characters doesn’t make much sense in context of the story, but the film is entertaining and occasionally quite funny. I gather that, in some quarters, this nomination is viewed as an embarrassment, but the film works just well enough for that reputation to be undeserved.

The House of Rothschild – There is a good story here, but Werker’s approach to this material certainly doesn’t do it any favors. Imagine a blend of Disraeli and Cavalcade, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this film is like. Not even George Arliss, in another solid performance, can breath life into this one.

Imitation of Life – A marginally decent film that could have been a great one, if not for its very awkward handling of the issue of race. From the outset, we know the story aims to drive home a progressive view of race relations, but its final position is incoherent. On the one hand, it condemns the Peola character for her racism because it is self-loathing and destructive (a point the film makes no fewer than three times). On the other hand, the screenplay soft-peddles the racist treatment of the Delilah character by dressing up her subservience in humor and hokey sentimentality. It seems to me that the film is not entitled to have it both ways. All of this is a shame, as otherwise the film is dramatically first-rate and the production values are strong.

It Happened One Night – Wonderful and charming from start to finish, this is the best Capra film I’ve seen to date. Gable and Colbert are mesmerizing together on screen and, though the story itself is a bit of a fairytale, the screenplay wisely sidesteps the mawkishness that tends to afflict so many of Capra’s projects. Here is a year where the Academy got it right.

One Night of Love – A curiously flat and unengaging film. Though the musical arrangements near the end are accomplished, even during these sequences the film rarely feels alive. I’m not really sure what this one is doing among the nominees.

The Thin Man – An enormously entertaining and wickedly funny film. The screenplay is elegantly constructed, offering us one delight after another, and Powell and Loy are great together on screen. The complex plot had me guessing until the very end, but the conclusion is thrilling and I couldn’t have been more satisfied with the whole experience.

Viva Villa! – A badly paced film with a truly irritating, caricatured performance at its center. Beery’s Villa comes across as an erratic buffoon (whether Beery or the screenplay deserves more blame for this is hard to say), and we are offered little more than a shallow depiction of Villa’s rebellious campaign. I found this to be an immensely disappointing film in almost every regard.

The White Parade – Unavailable.

My vote: It Happened One Night

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#67 Post by movielocke » Tue May 26, 2009 4:26 am

reno dakota wrote:1934:
Flirtation Walk – A good film, despite its obviously being aimed at selling the virtues of West Point and the Army in general. Dick Powell is good here, if occasionally a bit of a ham, but Pat O’Brien is better. Their father/son sort of relationship is well developed and anchors the film. I also enjoyed the Ruby Keeler storyline and Powell’s elaborate attempt to win her over. Not first-rate Borzage, for sure, but more enjoyable than either Bad Girl or A Farewell to Arms.
Gonna disagree, Flirtation Walk is simply awful. Bad Girl was excllenent and Farewell to Arms (which I didn't care for at all), was far better than Flirtation Walk. I'd forgotten it was directed by Borzage but that doesn't redeem it. Dick Powell is terrible, and I in particular hated everything to do with the Keeler storyline. Didn't care for Pat O'brien either, though he was the best part of the film.

--
Nicely stated on Imitation of Life. That movie makes my skin crawl. attempting to be progressive while having a character saying she's scared of money and just wants to remain a slave... err I mean servant and have her master, err I mean employer, keep ALL her earnings is one of the most vile things I've seen. And then it condemns the poor daughter for wanting to be white, suggesting it's neurotic (or insane) for someone mixed or black to want to be treated as an equal.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#68 Post by reno dakota » Tue May 26, 2009 5:11 am

movielocke wrote: Gonna disagree, Flirtation Walk is simply awful. Bad Girl was excllenent and Farewell to Arms (which I didn't care for at all), was far better than Flirtation Walk. I'd forgotten it was directed by Borzage but that doesn't redeem it. Dick Powell is terrible, and I in particular hated everything to do with the Keeler storyline. Didn't care for Pat O'brien either, though he was the best part of the film.
Fair enough, but you still haven't said exactly how the film goes wrong, except to call it agonizing, awful, and terrible. I agree that it's not a great film, but I also don't think it's trying to be anything more than a light entertainment--hence Powell's hammy performance and the silliness of the plotline involving Keeler. None of this makes it terrible in my view because the film always feels alive and Borzage's approach is appropriate to the material (whereas in Bad Girl he plays a romantic comedy as high drama and in A Farewell to Arms he spins a romantic drama into a dirge). In any case, it seems you had a pretty strong reaction against the film that no amount of defense on my part is going to undo.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#69 Post by nighthawk4486 » Tue May 26, 2009 8:26 am

1932-1933

Cavalcade - the winner, but not particularly interesting - still stunned that it won over Fugitive - #28 on the year

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang - my #4 of the year, but to me clearly the best of the nominated films - the first great social drama and still one of the best - the best performance of Paul Muni's career (even including Scarface)

Little Women - #8 on the year - ***.5 - to me there are five **** from this year and two very high ***.5, followed by a bunch of weak ***.5, including this and the next two - far far better than the 1949, but not as good as the 1994 version

The Private Life of Henry VIII - #10 on the year - very enjoyable, especially for Laughton's performance

Lady for a Day - #11 of the year, like the two above it, a weaker ***.5, but still a very good film

A Farewell to Arms - #19 of the year, solid version of the Hemingway novel - Gary Cooper is really perfect for the role, but the film stresses too much of the romance and not enough of the war

Smilin Through - #25 of the year, decent film

42nd Street - #45 of the year - weak musical - in fact I am not a particular fan of any of the early musicals

She Done Him Wrong - #46 of the year - ** - I don't like Mae West and rarely like any films with her in it - just can't see the appeal from a cinematic standpoint

State Fair - driving me nuts as it's not only the only Best Picture from this year I haven't seen - it's the only nominee at all from this year I haven't seen

my top 10 (since there were 10 nominees):

#1 - M (eligible due to 1933 US release - best film ever made up to this point)
#2 - King Kong
#3 - Duck Soup (best of the Marx Brothers films)
#4 - I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang - best of the nominees by far
#5 - The Invisible Man
#6 - The Mummy
#7 - The Blood of a Poet (Cocteau's film released in the US in 1933)
#8 - Little Women
#9 - Dinner at Eight
#10 - The Private Life of Henry VIII

1934

It Happened One Night - great screwball comedy and the first of the great Capra films and it comes in a close third on the year for me, but the other two do beat it out

The Thin Man - #1 on the year - great comedy / detective story with truly great dialogue ("It says here you were shot twice in the tabloids." "That's not true. They never got anywhere near my tabloids.") - I also go with William Powell over Gable for Best Actor (both Loy and Colbert lose out to Bette Davis for Of Human Bondage)

The Gay Divorcee - #2 on the year - barely slides between the two, but all are fairly even - the best of the Rogers / Astaire musicals - these three are the only **** films of 1934

The Barretts of Wimpole Street - #12 on the year - I have a soft spot for March, Shearer and Laughton, so I think I rank this film a little higher than many people - but the performances are all very good

big drop after this

One Night of Love - weak *** - #22 on the year - very overblown musical - definitely not worth 6 nominations or 2 Oscars

Here Comes the Navy - #25 on the year - barely *** - finally saw this on TCM last year

The House of Rothschild - found this on YouTube earlier this year - also barely *** - #26 of the year - not worth the long wait and search

Imitation of Life - #29 on the year - **.5 - let's just say I pretty much agree with earlier comments

Flirtation Walk - #31 on the year - kept out of the bottom two spots on the year by the other two nominees, which I dislike more - barely **.5 - my views on the film are pretty much summed up by movielocke

Cleopatra - #32 - I've never much understood the appeal of DeMille films - I've seen 12 of them and two of them (the original King of Kings and Union Pacific) have I ranked higher than a weak *** and they were still only a solid ***

Viva Villa - #34 - what a ridiculous film - I'll just leave it at that - barely **.5

White Parade - only available at UCLA

my choices - even though there were 12 nominees, I'm only listing my top 8 because I believe that you have to be ***.5 or **** to get Best Picture consideration

#1 - The Thin Man
#2 - The Gay Divorcee
#3 - It Happened One Night
#4 - Death Takes a Holiday
#5 - The Story of Floating Weeds (as far as I can tell, eligible in this year)
#6 - Mauvaise Graine - first Wilder film, ditto from above
#7 - Of Human Bondage
#8 - The Scarlet Empress

By the way, does anyone know where to find Affairs of Cellini or She Loves me Not?

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#70 Post by reno dakota » Tue May 26, 2009 8:43 am

nighthawk4486 wrote:1932-1933

State Fair - driving me nuts as it's not only the only Best Picture from this year I haven't seen - it's the only nominee at all from this year I haven't seen
Well, let it drive you nuts no longer. (Domino offered this suggestion several posts back, by the way, and I can attest that this is a reliable seller.)

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#71 Post by reno dakota » Wed May 27, 2009 4:03 am

1936:

Anthony Adverse – I suspect there is a good story buried somewhere in this messy, overlong epic, but the scope and pacing of the narrative stifle any hope of vitality or intrigue in the film. What we have here is a project that achieves breadth at the expense of depth, and even Fredric March’s engaging turn in the titular role cannot save the film from itself.

Dodsworth – A great film, with a deeply affecting performance from Walter Huston. Wyler’s approach to this material is so observant and intimate, and the story itself covers so much emotional ground, that I came to care more deeply for Dodsworth than I have for any film character in quite some time. And, to the film’s credit, the plot is not nearly as predictable as the setup may lead you to believe, and the conclusion is enormously satisfying.

The Great Ziegfeld – Punishingly long and badly paced, but not without some great moments along the way. The musical numbers here outdo anything found in the Broadway Melody films or 42nd Street, and Luise Rainer’s performance (particularly in the phone call scene) is heartbreaking. My guess is that the sheer scope of the production contributed to its Best Picture win, but for me it is one of the least deserving nominees in the lot.

Libeled Lady – A funny and sharply scripted film, with good performances all around. Tracy, Harlow, Powell and Loy work beautifully together here, and the screenplay is rich with humor and some pretty clever story developments. This is the sort of film that will get better and better with each viewing.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town – A compelling film for much of its runtime, but Capra and his screenwriter tank the whole thing with a tedious, unnecessary courtroom proceeding at the end. Gary Copper gives such a warm and likable performance here, and the story itself allows us to get to know this character very well. Then, inexplicably, we get a parade of characters to sing Deeds’ praises and tell us just how noble he is . . . you know, just in case we didn’t notice every element of the production driving this point home during the film’s first 90 minutes. I wanted to love this movie, but Capra’s lack of subtlety in these little-guy-prevailing-against-the-system films continues to irritate me.

Romeo and Juliet – I have never had much affection for this play, but even on the page it has never seemed as dull or as tedious as this adaptation. There is not a single good performance here, the passion between the leads—which is supposed to drive the story along—is unconvincing, and the whole thing is agonizingly overwrought.

San Francisco – I didn’t expect to like this one as much as I did, but the Gable/MacDonald/Tracy dynamic is an irresistible one, and the earthquake sequence at the end is stunning. The last two minutes or so are completely unnecessary and come close to ruining the emotional climax the film has reached by that point, but it is easy to overlook this misstep because the film is so strong and satisfying otherwise.

The Story of Louis Pasteur – A good film, anchored by a very endearing performance from Paul Muni. Dramatically, it does take some time to get going, but once it does and the story begins to come into focus, the film moves confidently and interestingly toward its conclusion. It might have been a better film had this material been infused with a bit more energy from the outset, but it works well enough despite this initial slowness.

A Tale of Two Cities – My new favorite Dickens adaptation. It’s been ages since I read the novel, but it all came rushing back to me as I watched this finely crafted, intensely alive film. Ronald Colman gives a moving performance and the supporting cast is excellent as well. And, true to its source, the final sequence is both terrifying and poignant.

Three Smart Girls – Certainly not an awful film, but one that feels out of place among the other nominees. Two of the girls—Barbara Read and Nan Grey—give decent performances, and Ray Milland is charming in his role, but Deanna Durbin’s irritating, infantile performance single-handedly sinks this project. That she is positioned here as the main attraction is a shame because the film works so much better when she is not on screen.

My vote: Dodsworth

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#72 Post by movielocke » Thu May 28, 2009 4:37 pm

nighthawk4486 wrote:The Thin Man - #1 on the year - great comedy / detective story with truly great dialogue ("It says here you were shot twice in the tabloids." "That's not true. They never got anywhere near my tabloids.") - I also go with William Powell over Gable for Best Actor (both Loy and Colbert lose out to Bette Davis for Of Human Bondage)
I just happened to rewatch this last night. Such a brilliant, perfect movie, better than I remembered from prior revisits, felt more like that magical first viewing to me. One of my favorite films of the decade.

Reno, as for Flirtation Walk, I watched it last summer and don't remember it very clearly. I do remember my disgust in it, but that I found nothing especially meritorious about it. Normally I like Dick Powell, but in that film I found the whole thing just not clicking in any way. Maybe it was my mood that day, but overall the entire experience of the film was not pleasant, I had a similar reaction to Anthony Adverse, for example.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#73 Post by nighthawk4486 » Thu May 28, 2009 7:05 pm

Thanks for the suggestions on getting State Fair. The buyer was great and quick and I have now seen it and rank it #17 on the year - a good *** film, a little better than Farewell. I especially liked the final shot of the film.

1935

Mutiny on the Bounty - Oscar winner - #5 on the year for me - very good adventure - fantastic performance by Laughton (my winner) - although I could have done with less focus on Tone

The Informer - the real winner - winning Actor, Director and A. Screenplay from the Oscars as well as Best Picture and Director from the initial NYFC and Best Picture from NBR - the best film of the year - one of Ford's best films

Les Miserables - my #4 on the year - still my favorite film version with the perfect casting - though I would love a film version of the musical

Captain Blood - great Errol Flynn adventure - not as great as Mutiny but more entertaining - my #7 on the year

Top Hat - #8 on the year - second best of the Astaire / Rogers musicals

A Midsummer Night's Dream - this version is never as good when I see it as I think it is when I'm not seeing it - I love Cagney, but Rooney is a distraction - my favorite Shakespeare play because I was in it in 6th grade - #10 on the year

David Copperfield - good solid version of the film - a good job of condensing the novel - I always liked the casting of W.C. Fields - #13 on the year

Ruggles of Red Gap - high *** - enjoyable mostly for Laughton - #14 on the year

Lives of a Bengal Lancer - #16 on the year - enjoyable but a bit over-rated

Alice Adams - I give Hepburn the Oscar in a very weak year for lead Actress performances (ironic given the 6 nominations, but 2 of those - Escape Me Never and Private Worlds - I haven't seen) - good solid version of the film - *** - #19 on the year

if they had stopped at 10 this would be a very good year for nominees, but they chunked the last two

Broadway Melody of 1936 - weak example of the melody genre - so not a fan - kept out of the bottom spot by Annie Oakley and the other nominee

Naughty Marietta - I'm sorry, but I hate Eddy / MacDonald musicals - really hate them - more than I hate Deanna Durbin musicals - #46 out of 47 films that year

since they went with 12 - here are my top 12 eligible films from 1935:
1 - The Informer
2 - The 39 Steps
3 - The Bride of Frankenstein
4 - Les Miserables
5 - Mutiny on the Bounty
6 - The Man Who Knew Too Much
7 - Captain Blood
8 - Top Hat
9 - A Night at the Opera
10 - A Midsummer Night's Dream
11 - The Scarlet Pimpernel
12 - Liliom (Fritz Lang's version)

1936

The Great Ziegfeld - solid *** - #12 on the year, but too long and Rainier is so good she overshadows Powell in the more important role

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town - very good - the start of Capraesque - I like the way the film progresses and Cooper and Arthur are both perfect - one of Cooper's best roles - #3 on the year

A Tale of Two Cities - Ronald Colman is so perfect as Sydney Carton - I would love to see this re-made with a great cast, but I can't give up Colman as Carton - the best non-Lean Dickens film - #4 on the year

Dodsworth - very good film of a very good book - Walter Huston is great - solid ***.5 - #7 on the year (not as good a year as 35, though better than 37)

Libeled Lady - enjoyable screwball comedy, but how did this get only the one nomination and My Man Godfrey got the major six and no Picture - strangest omission ever - high *** - #10

The Story of Louis Pasteur - solid but typical Hollywood 30's Warners biopic - shouldn't have been nominated and definitely shouldn't have won Actor or Screenplay - #19 on the year

Romeo and Juliet - #23 on the year - Leslie Howard is one of my favorite actors and I was pretty much in love with Norma Shearer in college, but they are too damn old - plus, in spite of the M.A. in Lit, I never much liked this - great language, stupid play

Three Smart Girls - #26 on the year - okay film, but I hate Durbin - even when she stopped singing I still hated her

Anthony Adverse - #39 on the year - mediocre - how you can have Frederic March and Claude Rains and make a mediocre swashbuckler film is beyond me, but they sure did it

San Francisco - second worst film of the year (kept out of the bottom by Cain and Mabel) - weak **.5 - boring, boring, boring - I have never taken to Gable or Tracy, but in the right films they shine and in this, they're just part of the big dud

My top 10

1 - Modern Times - not even close - best U.S. film made to this point - 2nd best film behind M
2 - The Petrified Forest - god, I love this film
3 - Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
4 - A Tale of Two Cities
5 - My Man Godfrey - the BP nominee that wasn't
6 - The Secret Agent - under-rated Hitchcock
7 - Dodsworth
8 - After the Thin Man
9 - Fury
10 - Show Boat

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#74 Post by nighthawk4486 » Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:00 pm

Hey movielocke - One Foot in Heaven will be on TCM in August (I believe it was the 24th or around there)

1937

The Life of Emile Zola - standard Warners biopic - solid performance by Muni and very good by Schildkraut, but ultimately, it's a standard Warners biopic - #14 in a very weak year

A Star is Born - easily the best film in a weak year - great performances by March and Gaynor (they both should have won) - I have always been a big fan of films about the film industry

The Awful Truth - #3 on the year - McCarey supposedly said he should have won for Make Way for Tomorrow (which I have actually never seen) - very good screwball comedy, though Grant was better teamed in the next few years with Hepburn and Russell

Stage Door - #7 on the year - solid film, with good performances all around - low ***.5

Lost Horizon - #8 on the year - I flip back and forth on whether this is a low ***.5 or a high *** - enjoyable Colman, from Capra's peak era - this would have been a justifiable Best Picture lineup if there were only 5 nominees - alas, not to be

Dead End - #22 on the year - standard Warners crime / ghetto film - probably would not have even ranked this high were it not for the steady direction of William Wyler

100 Men and a Girl - #29 on the year - low *** - I believe I have mentioned already how much I hate Deanna Durbin films

Captains Courageous - #37 on the year - I can't believe that Tracy won the Oscar for this - I am always stunned watching Tracy films at how many nominations he received - Tracy did occasionally do some great work (Bad Day at Black Rock, Inherit the Wind), but I think he is vastly over-rated

The Good Earth - #41 on the year - I'm not much of a fan of the book either (one of the last of the Pulitzers that I finally plowed through) - and can't buy either Muni or Rainer (who I still would have nominated, but behind Gaynor, Dunne and Hepburn)

In Old Chicago - low **.5 - dead last of the 45 films I've seen from this year - boring melodrama

NOMINEES I STILL HAVEN'T SEEN FROM THIS OSCAR YEAR:
Wings over Honolulu
Portia on Trial
Hitting a New High
Wells Fargo
You're a Sweetheart
Mr. Dodd Takes the Air
Thin Ice


Top 8 from 1937 - that's all it deserves
1 - A Star is Born
2 - You Only Live Once (great Fritz Lang film)
3 - The Awful Truth
4 - Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
5 - Shall We Dance
6 - The Lower Depths (Renoir's original)
7 - Stage Door
8 - Lost Horizon


1938

You Can't Take It With You - enjoyable Capra screwball - his first teaming with Jimmy Stewart - and I always love Jean Arthur - saw this my senior year of college in 1996 and it was the last of the Best Picture winners I had to see - #3 on the year

Grand Illusion - among the short list of best films ever made - for a while I had it at #1 - currently at #3 behind Sunset Boulevard and Wizard of Oz

The Adventures of Robin Hood - #2 on the year - classic Flynn - the ultimate adventure film

Pygmalion - #5 on the year - Leslie Howard was so perfect for this role, it's almost like it was written for him - such a shame he died when he did - Howard and Hiller should have won the two lead Oscars

The Citadel - #10 on the year - enjoyable, high *** - the kind of solid admirable role that Robert Donat was so perfect at playing

Test Pilot - enjoyable Gable adventure film - #15 on the year

Alexander's Ragtime Band - really deserves to be remembered more for the songs (especially the title tune) than for the film itself - respectable *** - #19 in a not particularly strong year

Four Daughters - #31 on the year - they nominated this instead of Angels? - did they just mix up their Curtiz films? - they nominated him for as Director for both and the Academy supposedly changed the rules according to Inside Oscar (explaining Coppola's single nomination in 74), but Inside Oscar never mentions them changing it back before 2000 and Soderbergh's double nomination

Jezebel - #32 on the year - you know, I am willing to admit that this film is better than I remember, but I don't much care for the whole southern belle thing, and though Davis is very good, as always - I don't think she should have won (I have her third on the year behind Hiller and Kate Hepburn for Bringing Up Baby) - and this is before Henry Fonda became Henry Fonda

Boys Town - #43 on the year - was the worst of the year until I recently saw Under Western Stars - aside from the fact that I'm not crazy about Tracy, I find the film to be just maudlin sentimental crap - **.5 - and Tracy shouldn't even have been nominated (should have been March, followed by Jean Gabin, Cagney, Cary Grant for Baby, and Donat)

I STILL HAVEN'T SEEN THE FOLLOWING NOMINEES:
White Banners
Army Girl
Suez
Storm Over Bengal
Tropic Holiday
Breaking the Ice
Pacific Liner
The Lady Objects


Top 8 of the year (again, all it merits)
1 - Grand Illusion
2 - The Adventures of Robin Hood
3 - You Can't Take It With You
4 - Bringing Up Baby - such great screwball
5 - Pygmalion
6 - Angels with Dirty Faces
7 - Merrily We Live - great overlooked screwball which I finally saw last year on TCM
8 - Bluebeard's Eighth Wife - this was the era for screwball comedies

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#75 Post by movielocke » Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:58 am

nighthawk4486 wrote:Hey movielocke - One Foot in Heaven will be on TCM in August (I believe it was the 24th or around there) ...

7 - Merrily We Live - great overlooked screwball which I finally saw last year on TCM
thanks for the info, I doubt I'll have cable in august, but if I do, I'll watch it. otherwise it's just a trip to the video store for me to see it, since I live in LA. ;)

And I agree about Merrily We Live, it's overshadowed by the superior My Man Godfrey, but it's charming, zanier and takes itself much less seriously as well. I like both quite a lot but was delightfully surprised at how satisfying MWL is. :)

I like Stage Door quite a bit more than you, I'm rewatching it this weekend as a matter of fact.

And you must see Make Way for Tomorrow, it's one of the most outstanding films of the entire decade.

Very much enjoying reading your thoughts. :D Since you've seen so many of the nominated films, can I ask how is Eskimo? It's the first film to win best editing and I've always wanted to see it. Is it worth seeking out?

ddomino, when is our deadline for this again? I ask because I'm trying to determine how many years I should finish viewing all the movies nominated, I've got 24 films in the forties, 11 in the fifties and 13 in the sixties left to see, but I could wipe out the ten years I've only got one film left to see pretty quickly if I needed to.

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