“Best Pictures” 1939

Next on my quest to WATCH EVERY BEST PICTURE NOMINEE EVER!!! I’ll be reviewing the 10 films nominated for 1939. The 12th annual Academy Awards were held on February 29th, 1940.

Dark Victory

dark-victory-bette-davis-1939-everett darkvictory-smoker

Warner Bros. – 1hr 44min

DIRECTOR: Edmund Goulding

GENRE: Drama/Romance

NOTES: Based on the play by George Brewer and Bertram Bloch. • This was the 8th of 11 pairings for Bette Davis and George Brent. • The film was remade in 1963 as Stolen Hours with Susan Hayward and again for TV in 1976 with Elizabeth Montgomery and Anthony Hopkins. • Bette Davis would say in a 1983 interview that her performance in Dark Victory was “the nearest to being satisfied” she had ever been with any of her work.

PROS: The movie just starts mid scene with Michael(Humphrey Bogart) calling Judith(Bette Davis) on the phone. I don’t know if it was intended to be but it just felt like such a cold open that I’ll call it a pro. • Bette Davis is a force of nature! She is bristling with so much energy and bounds across the sets that everyone around her looks frozen in place. “Excuse me kids I won a prize.”It’s impossible not to fall under her spell. • Judith almost always has her defenses up, especially around Dr. Fred Steele(George Brent) and Davis is masterful at showing the desire and fear that lies behind those defenses. I can relate to her reluctance to admit to health problems. The scene where Judith reconciles with Steele is acting at it’s finest(from Davis) for this period. • Judith‘s confrontation scene at the restaurant: “I think I’ll have a large order of prognosis negative” and then her eyes go wide. That was flipping awesome! I could watch that scene over and over again.  Fun to see a young Ronald Reagan(Alec), even though all he really does is drunkenly plop into various chairs. • They foreshadow Judith‘s sickness but surprisingly bring it to light early with the fall down the stairs. • Gotta love all the smoking, even in the hospital room pre-surgery! • I really enjoyed Geraldine Fitzgerald in the roll of Ann. She does some very subtle acting that impressed me.

CONS: A little too contrived that Dr. Steele won’t reveal the results of Judith‘s brain surgery. “Main thing is for her to be happy.” Really Dr.? But what about the patient knowing the truth?? Anyway, this obviously sets up events and allows for everything Judith says and does to be heart-wrenching. The film is definitely manipulating the viewers emotions. • Generally boring blocking for most scenes. Not too much creativity in regards to the cinematography. • Some poor rear screen projection. Luckily it’s not a terribly important scene. • Hard to take so much George Brent knowing that Bogey is also in the movie. But alas, his time would come. Not to speak bad of Brent. He gives a perfectly fine performance. • Speaking of Bogey, I am pretty sure he’s trying to do an Irish brogue here. Oof. • Judith says “Here we have nothing.” “Here” being this awesome house in Vermont complete with separate medical laboratory building. Hardly “nothing”.

REWATCHABILITY: 3/4

BETTER REVIEW THAN MINE: from Kristen over at journeysinclassicfilm

Gone With The Wind

poster_-_gone_with_the_wind_01 Scarlett8.png

Selznick Internation Pictures – 3hr 58min

DIRECTOR: Victor Fleming

GENRE: Romance/Drama/Civil War/Antebellum South

NOTES: Based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell. • Victor Fleming won the Oscar for Best Director. • Vivien Leigh won the Oscar for Best Actress. • Hattie McDaniel won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and became the first African-American to win an Academy Award. • Sidney Howard won the Oscar for Best Screenplay. • The film also won the Oscar for Best Cinematography(Color), Best Editing, & Best Art Direction.

PROS: Vivien Leigh(Scarlett O’Hara) performance is a tour-de-force. Her opening reveal is iconic. And from there she runs the gamut of emotions. She can be funny(e.g. sticking her tongue out at her sister), mean, sad, scared, greedy, and everything in between. Mostly though, she excels at pretending to care about other people’s feelings(until it’s too late of course). My favorite part of the film is the beginning of the second half when Scarlett is all badass and trying to bring Tara back to life. She’s gone through some hell at that point and you can see that it’s changed her a bit. Enough to where she can just shoot a Yankee in the face! “Well I guess I’ve done murder…” And then once Tara is up and running again she’s off to Atlanta and her old ways.  • The 3-color Technicolor process is on display right from the start. In fact everything about the opening credits screams “this is an epic film!”. Visually, everything about the film is stunning. That pull back shot to reveal Tara in all it’s glory. The ball in Atlanta, the burning of Atlanta, the birthing scene in silouhette,  . Almost every frame is a smorgasbord for the eyes. • Hattie McDaniel(Mammy) gives the most realistic performance of the film. She completely possesses the character. • Rhett‘s(Clark Gable) introduction is pretty slick. The guy is a movie star in the zoom in on him is case in point. It’s almost like Gable is playing the epitome of Gable. That scene where he pops up on the couch to reveal that he was listening in on Scarlett and Ashley‘s(Leslie Howard) fight the whole time is the perfect showcase for his charms. And of course he gets the best lines: “A minor point at such a moment”; “The cause of living in the past is dying right in front of us”; “A cat’s a better mother than you are”; and of course the mother of all final lines, “frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.” • Props to the majestic Olivia de Havilland(Melanie). To me, her role is almost more important than Scarlett because it’s Melanie who really holds the family together. At least from a moral standpoint. De Havilland also shines when teaming up with Gable to fool the Union Soldiers in order to protect Ashley• I love that Captain Hamilton(Rand Brooks) died of the measles and not in battle! haha!

CONS: It’s too long. I think that’s safe to say.  The second half really drags once it becomes all about Scarlett and Rhett‘s domestic squabbles. And then, when the tragedy starts showing up, the film is almost rushing through these moments to get to the end. • Scarlett O’Hara just isn’t a likable character. Which makes this film quite daring for the time, but I think the cost is too dear. It does however, make Gable’s famous last line cathartic for the viewer.

REWATCHABILITY: 2/4

BETTER REVIEW THAN MINE: contemporary review from Frank Nugent over at nytimes

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Goodbye,_Mr._Chips_(1939_film)_poster.jpg thenextreel-goodbyemr-chips3

MGM – 1hr 54min

DIRECTOR: Sam Wood

GENRE: Literature-to-screen/Dramedy

NOTES: Based on the novel by James Hilton. • Robert Donat won the Academy Award for Best Actor. • The film was remade in 1969 as a musical starring Petula Clark  & Peter O’Toole. • The Repton School in Derbyshire, England was used for the exteriors.

PROS: This is all about Robert Donat’s performance as Mr. Chips. He really disappears into the role, especially in the later years. It’s a fun performance, slightly exaggerated but not over-acted. • The “old” make up is done quite well, although I don’t know if it passes for 83 years old. 63 maybe. • You don’t see too many movies in the 30’s operating on flashbacks. Greer Garson(Katherine) is gorgeous. You fall in love with her immediately. The tea party she gives for some of the boys just endears you to her even more. • The scene on the balconies where Mr. Chips is hiding from Katherine. I can relate to his shyness. • I like how the boys on the train assume Mr. Chips has slapped the young crying boy. • Lots of funny little moments: The boy’s sarcasm in class after Mr. Chips: “No more silence sir?”; When Mr. Chips and Staeffel(Paul Henreid) are expecting Katherine and her friend to emerge from the Vienna cafe and it ends up being two stuffy old ladies; When one of the fellow teachers says “Hello cake”; The throwaway line about “some archduke was assassinated some place”.

CONS: Not much in the way of conflict until the events of Katherine‘s pregnancy. But this passes by so fast that it doesn’t hold as much weight as it should. • A somewhat silly scene where Mr. Chips tries to conduct class during artillery fire. • Donat gives a great performance but it clearly changes once he dons the mustache.

REWATCHABILITY: 2/4

BETTER REVIEW THAN MINE: contemporary review from Frank Nugent over at nytimes

Love Affair

Love_Affair.jpg love-empire

RKO – 1hr 27min

DIRECTOR: Leo McCarey

GENRE: Romantic Comedy

NOTES: Based on a story by Leo McCarey and Mildred Cram. • Remade in 1957 by McCarey as An Affair To Remember with Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr. • Remade in 1994 with Warren Beatty & Annette Bening and featuring Katherine Hepburn in her final appearance.

PROS: Irene Dunne(Terry McKay) gives a solid and very realistic performance. It’s a style quite different from say Bette Davis in Dark Victory. The last scene is a great display of Dunne’s talents. She does so much with her subtle facial expressions. Another example is when she is talking about her father. She does a lot of little non-verbal reactions.  The movie opens with celebrity gossip being spread across the globe. Some things never change! • Gotta love the entrance of Michel Marnay(Charles Boyer). Pretty darn suave walking down the stairs and dealing with rabid fans. • I like the little boy who is sitting on the railing. “Then what are you crabbin’ about?”. • Some beautiful cinematography in a couple of scenes. The lighting in the church on Madeira when Michel and Terry pray at the altar is stunning. The shot where Terry walks onto her balcony and the glass door swings wide to reveal the Empire State Building perfectly framed in the door’s reflection. I think it’s one of the best shots of the decade. Maria Ouspenskaya as Grandmother Janou was a standout and a pleasant surprise. I had forgotten about her performance in Dodsworth(1936). The moment she breaks down while playing the piano felt so inspired. • “They call me pickle-puss!”. • “We’re heading into a rough sea.” Literally & figuratively! • There is an impressive use of matte paintings and rear-screen projection in this film. Sometimes the two are mixed together. Look for it especially in the Madeira scenes.

CONS: I found myself not particularly caring too much about Michel or Terry, and certainly wasn’t in any hurry to see them finally come together. • What the heck was going on with Terry’s Landlady(Ferike Boros). It was a strange scene to say the least. But somehow one of the most realistic moments in 1930’s cinema! • The songs didn’t really do much for me. • The car accident was surprising but ultimately felt contrived. • The adding of the children’s choir just hit a sour note for me. Just maybe a little to heavy on the schmaltz.

REWATCHABILITY: 1/4

BETTER REVIEW THAN MINE: from Casu over at irenedunneproject

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

mr-smith-goes-to-washington-movie-poster-1939-1020433536 68

Columbia Pictures – 2hr 9min

DIRECTOR: Frank Capra

GENRE: Political Drama/Comedy

NOTES: Based on a story by Lewis R. Foster. • The film was originally intended to be a sequel to Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes To Town(1936) and star Gary Cooper as well, however Cooper was unavailable. • Lewis R. Foster won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Story. • One of three films to team Capra with Stewart and one of three films to team Capra with Arthur. • One of twenty Capra films to team him with cinematographer Joseph Walker.

PROS: James Stewart(Jefferson Smith) in a star-making role. The icon status would be cemented later with It’s A Wonderful Life(1946) but it’s here that the Jimmy Stewart we all know and love first fully emerges. His filibuster scene is the highlight here. • I’m always impressed with Capra’s framing and editing. The focusing on Mr. Smith‘s hat as he nervously talks to Ms. Paine(Astrid Allwyn) was startling. Very artistic for a film from the 30’s I thought. Also, the pacing of the film is excellent and that is true even considering some very lengthy scenes.  Another fine performance from Jean Arthur(Clarissa Saunders). It’s a similar role to the one she played in Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes To Town(1936). She is the cynical secretary (in Mr. Deeds she’s a cynical reporter) who can’t believe the sincerity of Mr. Smith at first(“is he animal, vegetable or mineral?”) but eventually does and in the end falls in love with him for it. “I guess I’ve always lived in a tunnel.” She has a lot of funny moments. “Susan Paine-in-the-neck.” Especially the “drunk” scene with Diz(Thomas Mitchell). She’s also really charming as she directs Mr. Smith‘s filibuster from the balcony. •  Jim Taylor(Edward Arnold) is the quintessential “shady big-wig”. Arnold is famous for playing these types of roles, including Capra’s 1938 Best Picture winning film, You Can’t Take It With You. “Turn the ballyhoo boys loose!”. •  Governor Hopper‘s(Guy Kibbee) kids crack me up. “We like Jeff Smith!”. I also like his coin toss that lands sideways. • Claude Rains is fantastic as Senator Joseph Paine. He starts out very restrained(for a Claude Rains performance anyway) and ends up being very bombastic. But only after he’s fully given into his betrayal. • The moment when McGann(Eugene Pallette) can’t get out of the phone booth! • I love the little talk about passing and creating bills between Smith and Saunders. Informative and funny!

CONS: There is not much wrong with this film. If anything it might be a touch too long. There is a lot of script here, but that only invites another viewing in my opinion.  The scene where Mr. Smith goes around Washington D.C. punching all the newspaper reporters. Cathartic yes, but overall pretty silly. • It’s all a bit exaggerated and over the top but that’s what makes it Capra-esque. It’s something that Steven Spielberg does to great effect today. The viewer can start to feel like their being manipulated. This isn’t necessarily a con, unless you are feeling extra cynical while watching.

REWATCHABILITY: 3/4

BETTER REVIEW THAN MINE: from Rida over at letterboxd

Ninotchka

Film_ninotchka.jpg ninotchka-garbo

MGM – 1hr 50min

DIRECTOR: Ernst Lubitsch

GENRE: Romantic-Comedy

NOTES: Based on an idea by Melchior Lengyel• Billy Wilder co-wrote the screenplay which was one of his first successes. • The slogan “Garbo Laughs” was put on the posters and is an homage to the slogan “Garbo talks!” which was used in the ad campaign for her first talkie Anna Christie(1930). • The film was banned(predictably) in the Soviet Union.

PROS: Some nice comic timing at the beginning as the three comrades Iranoff(Sig Ruman), Buljanoff(Felix Bressart), and Kopalski(Alexander Granach) enter the hotel. There is a Marx Bros. element to these guys(and no that is not a pun. “I always said it will be Siberia”) • This is a good role for Greta Garbo(Ninotchka). She gets to run the gamut here. From strict strait-laced bolshevik “Don’t make an issue of my womanhood.” to experiencing the free and easy lifestyle of American liberty. There is a great shot of her after her return to Russia where she is sitting alone at a table. • The heil Hitler joke. “That’s not him” • Plenty of the typical Lubitsch sexual innuendos such the scene where Ninotchka first meets Count d’Algout(Melvyn Douglas) and they read a map. • Smooth camera work. Some nice dolly shots and a great crane shot in the scene at the airfield. • When d’Algout commiserates with the working class fellows at the diner. • I love the bit where the butler Gaston(Richard Carle) pretty much shuts down Socialism. • Ina Claire was pretty great as the bitchy Grand Duchess Swana• A touching moment where Ninotchka, back in Russia, turns on the radio and can find “no music”; only propaganda. • I like the idea that once Ninotchka and d’Algout become infatuated with each other that their respective worldviews begin to influence the other.

CONS: Overall  a bit on the silly side. There are some interesting ideas here with the main characters representing two opposing economic systems and the possibility of showing a meeting of the minds… but character arcs develop much too fast and there isn’t much time to explore these concepts. • Most of the jokes were telegraphed. In fact the whole film pivots on a moment of physical comedy that you can see coming from a mile away.(Maybe it was less obvious to viewers in 1939.)

REWATCHABILITY: 1/4

BETTER REVIEW THAN MINE: from Brian Eggert over at deepfocusreview

Of Mice And Men

41ddb54f3fe8802e751b31906a8b17fa Hollywood's Greatest Year: The Best Picture Nominees of 1939

United Artists – 1hr 47min

DIRECTOR: Lewis Milestone

GENRE: Drama/Book-to-Screen/Depression Era

NOTES: Based on the novel by John Steinbeck. Both Lon Chaney, Jr. and Leigh Whipper had appeared in the theatrical adaptation prior to the film. • The musical score was composed by the famous 20th century composer Aaron Copland• The film was remade in 1992 and starred Gary Sinise(who also directed) and John Malkovich.

PROS: And my award for the best opening credit sequence of the 1930’s goes to..! How the film begins and the way in which the title and credits are introduced is exciting, creative, and innovative. Loved it! • The lengthy first scene between George(Burgess Meredith) and Lennie(Lon Chaney, Jr.) is fantastic. It establishes the characters perfectly and sets up all that’s to come. The lighting is evocative. It truly feels like they are outside. • The music overall is quite good. Delicate at times. This is less surprising when you realize who composed it. • Oscar O’Shea gives a convincing performance as the ornery & skeptical ranch boss Jackson. “I’ve seen wise guys before.” • There’s an impressive tracking shot early on as Candy(Roman Bohnen) shows George and Lennie around the ranch. • Speaking of Candy, Roman Bohnen almost steals the movie with his performance. Especially when it comes to a scene involving his beloved dog and another ranch hand named Carlson(Granville Bates). And also when he starts to horn in on George and Lennie‘s plans. • There is an authenticity to the ranch. I assume it was filmed on location for the most part. There are many well framed shots especially inside the stables and the camera always seems to be spying on the actors. • There was a nice little fake out cut. The men are sitting down to dinner when we see a close up of a pie which we assume is on their table. But then the camera pulls back to reveal that the pie is on the table of the ranch boss. You don’t see this kind of thing too often in the 30’s. Also the scene that ensues is one of the best of the film as Mae(Betty Field) sits silently and listens to Curley(Bob Steele) and Jackson eat their food. • I got a kick out of the girls in the bar aping various movie stars. e.g. Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel(1932): “I vant to be alone.” • Lon Chaney, Jr. gives a very earnest performance. That way he sing-songs “hide in the brush by the river” is particularly heart-breaking. You believe the character 100%. It’s a performance that was already ingrained in my memory because of Looney Tunes. See here.

CONS: Mae and Curley feel like they are out of some gangster movie. When Curley says “No guy’s giving my wife presents.” you are waiting him to follow it with “see?!”. Or how about this line? “Wait’ll he tastes the old one-two.” Now I haven’t read the book. Maybe that’s a Steinbeck line, but I doubt it. Betty Field overdoes it for the most part, although her last scene with Lon Chaney, Jr. was very good. • The fight scene between Curley and Lennie was handled a little poorly. But hey it’s the 30’s. You do get a little precursor to Burgess Meredith’s role in Rocky(1976) when he eggs on Lennie to fight back.

REWATCHABILITY: 3/4

BETTER REVIEW THAN MINE: from EvanstonDad over at letterboxd

Stagecoach

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United Artists – 1hr 36min

DIRECTOR: John Ford

GENRE: Western/Ensemble

NOTES: Based on a short story by Earnest Haycox. • Director John Ford had made many Westerns in the silent era but this was his first with sound. • The film was remade in 1966 by Gordon Douglas. And again for television in 1986 and featured country musicians Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, & Waylon Jennings. • Much of the film was shot in Monument Valley where Ford would return for numerous films. • Thomas Mitchell won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

PROS: This is the quintessential Western. A bunch of different folks with different backgrounds all trying to make their way to a town without getting killed! There is something almost “classic” about this film even for 1939. It feels like it’s from a bygone era. (Probably because Westerns were already falling out of fashion by then.) • John Wayne(Ringo Kid) is a bona fide movie star. But the coolest part of this movie is that is truly an ensemble piece and everyone gets equal time. And really, if one were to pick a star of this film, it would probably be Thomas Mitchell as “Doc” Boone. I love his speech about social justice at the beginning. • The famous shot(as seen above). This shot is staggering. It defines “cinematic”. Having watched a lot of films from the 30’s, there is just nothing quite like this shot. I think the speed of it is what’s so jarring. It’s really pushing the boundaries of what the camera can do. Truly iconic. • John Carradine looks great as Hatfield the gunslinger. Has that whole Doc Holliday look to him. • Ringo‘s kindness to the prostitute, Dallas(Claire Trevor) is touching. And Trevor gives a standout performance. • There are some great angles during the chase scene. I also loved the shot from on top of the wagon as it fords the river. • I thought the banker Henry Gatewood(Berton Churchill)’s line “what this country needs is a businessman for President” was funny given our current situation in America. • Seemingly some real Mexican and Native American actors were used. • Some of the night shots were quite beautiful.

CONS: Andy Devine’s schtick as Buck can wear on ya. • The score can be overbearing at times. I would have preferred to just hear the sound of the wagon. • I didn’t realize that Lucy Mallory(Louise Platt) was pregnant until she had the baby! Probably not the fault of the screenwriter though. I probably just missed something.

REWATCHABILITY: 3/4

BETTER REVIEW THAN MINE: from Eric D. Snider over at seattlepi

The Wizard Of Oz

wizard_of_oz_original_poster_1939 oz

MGM – 1hr 41min

DIRECTOR: Victor Fleming

GENRE: Fantasy/Musical

NOTES: Based on the novel by L. Frank Baum. • Herbert Stothart won the Oscar for Best Original Score. • E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen won the Oscar for Best Song, “Over The Rainbow”. • A silent version had been made in 1925(and featured Oliver Hardy as the Tin Woodman). • The film really came to fame only after it’s 1956 debut on Television. • Two other famous directors had a hand in this film; George Cukor & King Vidor.

PROS: Extremely entertaining and truly timeless. It does have this magical charm about it that draws you into the world. A large part of that is due I think, to the wonderful world of Technicolor and also to the fact that it’s all filmed on indoor sets. So Oz feels like a brand new world to explore but it also feels closed in too. There is also a slight feeling of uneasiness resting underneath it all that’s hard to put your finger on. One gets the feeling that sticking around too long in Oz would not be a good thing necessarily. • Lots of foreshadowing in the opening scenes. • “Over The Rainbow” is a truly transcendent song. One of the great musical achievements in my opinion. In fact it’s hard to deny any of the music. “If I Only Had A Brain” contains a melody that won’t leave your head. Probably why they use it throughout the film! •  The entrance of Ms. Gulch(Margaret Hamilton) on her bike is probably my favorite moment of the film. Coupled with that amazing theme music… it’s just perfection. • The model shot of the farm and the twister approaching are terrifying to this day! • Bert Lahr almost steals the show for me as the Cowardly Lion. His entrance is incredible and the whole “If I Were King of the Forest” sequence is the height of performance. • I say almost steals the show because it’s Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West who brings the house down. This movie is not as famous without her in my opinion. The best compliment I can give her is that my mom still to this day(she’s in her late 60’s now) can not even watch 2 seconds of this movie because of Hamilton’s performance! Also the effect when she melts away is still impressive and disturbing.

CONS: When the twister picks up Dorothy‘s house it gets a little bit silly with showing who and what else got caught up with it. • I like Frank Morgan(The Wizard, Professor MarvelDoormanCabbieGuard) but I think they overused him. Why not use Charley Grapewin(Uncle Henry) for the role of The Wizard• God those Flying Monkeys are creepy!

REWATCHABILITY: 4/4

BETTER REVIEW THAN MINE: from the late great Roger Ebert over at rogerebert

Wuthering Heights

wutheringheights1939 daje

United Artists – 1hr 43min

DIRECTOR: William Wyler

GENRE: Drama/Classic Literature

NOTES: based on the novel by Emily Brontë. • Gregg Toland won the Oscar for Best Cinematography(somehow this was the only win for Toland in his great career). • A large portion of the novel was left out. • Apparently Vivien Leigh turned down the role to play Isabella and went on to take the role of Scarlett O’Hara instead. • There have been several more film and television adaptations of the novel.

PROS: Well the best part of this film is Gregg Toland’s photography. The lighting is evocative and at times innovative(Toland gives the effect of a room lit only by candle and goes darker than I think I’ve seen in any movie from the period.) The framing is always considered. The shot where Mr. Lockwood(Miles Mander) first enters is  perfect example. There is framing within framing in that shot. There are some early versions of Toland’s famous deep focus and low angle shots that he’d use to greater effect in Citizen Kane(1941). • I liked the scene between Young Heathcliff(Rex Downing) and Young Cathy(Sarita Wooton) where they pretend to be King & Queen of Peniston Crag• The outdoor scenes are shot on location which is a nice change from painted backgrounds. • I found Geraldine Fitzgerald(Isabella) to be much more intriguing than Merle Oberon(Cathy). I found the best scene to be when they squared off with each other over the love of Heathcliff• The storm was well done, especially the flashes of lightning.

CONS: There isn’t much chemistry between Laurence Olivier(Heathcliff) and Merle Oberon. Apparently the two actors didn’t get along very well and I think it shows. • The dialogue is really stuffy. There isn’t enough moments of levity.

REWATCHABILITY: 1/4

BETTER REVIEW THAN MINE: from Jason Fraley over at thefilmspectrum

WHAT WON?

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Gone With The Wind

Did the Oscars get it right?

(a reluctant)YES!

1939 is often considered the pinnacle of classic American cinema; and you could easily make the case that The Wizard of Oz(maybe the most timeless film of all time), or Mr. Smith Goes To Washington(maybe one of the most imitated films of all time), or Stagecoach(certainly the most influential Western of all time) are all better films; and for me personally, I’d choose Of Mice and Men as the best of this year’s nominees. All that said, Gone With The Wind is just an undeniable powerhouse. It’s the first true American epic in my opinion. Gorgeous to look at, and chock full of great performances which is enough to outweigh the occasional flowery dialogue and bloated running time.

SNUBS?

Here are some well reviewed films eligible that year which weren’t nominated for Best Picture. I compiled the list from various sources and I’ll leave it up to you to decide if they were snubbed or not. Have one to add? Let me know and I’ll list it. The ones I’ve seen are marked with an asterisk:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – dir. Richard Thorpe

Another Thin Man – dir. W.S. Van Dyke

Bachelor Mother – dir. Garson Kanin

Beau Geste – dir. William A. Wellman

Daybreak – dir. Marcel Carné

Destry Rides Again – dir. George Marshall

Dodge City – dir. Michael Curtiz

Drums Along The Mohawk – dir. John Ford

The Four Feathers – dir. Zoltan Korda

Intermezzo – dir. Gregory Ratoff

Gunga Din – dir. George Stevens

The Hound Of The Baskervilles – dir. Sidney Lanfield

The Hunchback of Notre Dame – dir. William Dieterle

Jesse James – dir. Henry King

Midnight – dir. Mitchell Leisen

Only Angels Have Wings – dir. Howard Hawks

The Private Lives Of Elizabeth And Essex – dir. Michael Curtiz

The Roaring Twenties – dir. Raoul Walsh

The Rules Of The Game* – dir. Jean Renoir

Son Of Frankenstein – dir. Rowland V. Lee

The Story Of The Last Chrysanthemums – dir. Kenzi Mizoguchi

Union Pacific – dir. Cecil B. Demille

The Women – dir. George Cukor

You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man – dir. George Marshall

Young Mr. Lincoln* – dir. John Ford

MY OTHER REVIEWS: 1929/30 • 1930/31 • 1931/32 • 1932/33 • 1934 • 1935 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938  2015

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