The Oscar Quest: Final Update

Oh, you read that correctly. This is the final Oscar Quest update. I really am a fucking boss.

I posted that article a month ago (the Remix, not the original) saying I only had 100 films left before I’d seen every film ever nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director. Which, for people stumbling upon this blog, through this article, of all things (I’m #5 on Google, baby!) for the first time, was the Oscar Quest I set out to complete last May.

In the past month, I watched 67 films from that list. Which is pretty much 2/3 of what I had left. Exactly 2/3, in fact. If this were the Senate, the bill would have passed (maybe it’s the wrong month for that reference). Those 67 were all films I had in my possession. DVD, Netflix, etc. They were ones I just needed to sit down and watch, no searching required. Now, the only ones left are the ones that were/are “unavailable.” I’ll explain what their statuses are in terms of availability when I list them. But for now, let’s just talk about how awesome I am a bit more.

Taking off those 67 films means I have exactly 33 films left before I’ve seen every film nominated in the Big Six (stated up top), and before my Oscar Quest is complete. Which is just incredible. Because, after taking off all the films I’d seen already when I started (a nice handful of which (and I mean a nice handful) I ended up watching again anyway, as either a refresher, for an article, or simply because I wanted to watch them again), I started this Quest with upwards of 900 films I hadn’t seen before. And in the past 14 months (to the day, practically), I watched all but 33 of them. Not to mention the fact that I watched almost every new release during that time (which I’ve been detailing on the blog) and also watched a bunch of non-Oscar films as well (most of them I hadn’t seen, as well as a few repeats).

I’ll post an article within the next few weeks that tries to put a number on it, but in the past 14 months, I’ve verifiably watched upwards of 1,200 films. (Possibly closer to 1,500.) I’m still working on a definite estimate. What’s even more incredible, though, is — I started the Quest back in May, but I didn’t start the blog until this year (1/1/11). So there a nice backlog of all the categories I need to write up. And after doing the math, I’m about 80% positive that I will finish writing up every category I’ve finished thus far (minus Best Picture) by the time of next year’s Oscar ceremony. (This may even include the ones I haven’t finished yet). How’s that for a bow on top?

As for the articles, I’ll keep writing them as usual. I’m not sure what’ll happen come those last few unfinished categories, but since we have seven months before we reach that point, let’s just keep on keepin’ on, and figure that out when we get there. Also, there’s a big update coming within the next few weeks that’ll make life so much easier for anyone who checks this blog from here on out. It’s very exciting. And I think I’ll be able to put it up before I end up finishing the Quest, which is also great. But we’ll talk about that when the time comes.

And while I have you here, let me also say, there are quite a few updates happening in the coming months. Aside from all the Oscar Quest-related updates, we’re almost 2/3 of the way through the year, so pretty soon I’m gonna update with reviews of all the new releases I’ve seen. Plus I have some themed Pic of the Day months coming. And there’s gonna be another Top Tens list as well at some point. A lot of good stuff is happening. Let’s hope the plants don’t suddenly decide to kill us.

The last thing I’ll say before I get into the actual 33 remaining films is, I do mean it when I say this is the final Oscar Quest update. It’s pointless to update you after this, being so close to being done. From now on, if you want to know exactly where I’m at (if “basically done” won’t suffice), the list of films I have still to watch is both right there at the top of the page, on that little bar between the header and the most recent article, as well as on the left-hand menu, right where this sentence is on the page. Look over there to the left. See what I’m talking about? Awesome how that worked out, right? Yeah, I’m good like that.

Now let me explain about these 33 films…

These were the films that were heretofore unavailable to me. Unavailable meant pretty much whatever I decided it meant. Basically, they weren’t on Netflix, and couldn’t be found online through broad searching. I wasn’t too concerned with finding them at first, because until the past month, I had so many films still left to watch, and all of those were in my possession. Of course, while watching the ones I had, I managed to find a bunch of unavailables (which is why many of them disappeared between updates). But, these were ones that either were impossible to find (to rent or watch for free online), or had to be purchased on DVD (which meant money). So I wrote them off, and, like my favorite classical film heroine, was going to think about them tomorrow.

But now, only having 33 films left, I’m focusing my efforts on figuring out in what capacity those 33 exist, and how I can go about seeing them. So what I’m doing is, like the other Quest updates, listing all the films in category order, and then, since there are only 33, I’m going to let you know after each one: what I know about that film’s existence, if I can purchase it, if I have to watch a print at a film archive, or if the film is just MIA from the world. (Though, admittedly, many of those are available on VHS, but who has a VHS player just laying around? What good does that do me?) Either way, the goal here is to let you know what I know about the availability of the final 33. Here they are:

Best Picture

1934 – The White Parade

— This is one of the two Best Picture nominees that have never been released on home video, in any format. The other one is right below this. IMDB Trivia states this film has never been released “due to the condition of the print.” It says only one print is available, and that it exists in the UCLA film archive.

Given that I’ve just moved to Los Angeles, maybe there’s a way for me to go to the archive and ask to schedule a viewing. I don’t know how this works, if I need to have credentials or something, or if I can just go up, request a screening and watch the film. If I can do that, that’s awesome. I’m totally gonna do it. Come along, we’ll make it a party. For now, at least I know where it is.

Prognosis: It seems to only be available as a print in the UCLA film archive.

1930-1931 – East Lynne

— This is the other Best Picture nominee that’s never been released on home video. This film also seems to not have been released due to the condition of its print, and also seems to exist only as a print at the UCLA film archive. Which, is convenient.

Prognosis: It seems to only be available as a print in the UCLA film archive.

Best Actor

1983 – Reuben, Reuben (Tom Conti)

— This film I just can’t find. At all. There are VHS tapes on Amazon, but they do me no good. There aren’t any videos online of it, and no one seems to be able to find this at all. AWOL.

Prognosis: Missing. No idea. Need to keep searching and hope it turns up.

1980 – Tribute (Jack Lemmon)

— This film is also missing (not to be confused with the 1982 film Lemmon was also nominated for). I can’t find it at all. There’s a VHS on Amazon, but that’s it. It’s also impossible to search for online, because it has one of the most generic titles out there. Any time I even try to search for it, I get an exponentially bigger pile to sift through, and usually I end up getting frustrated and giving up midway through the 20th page, between the Jack Lemmon tribute video set to some cheesy lounge tune and the video of a tribute to some obscure 80s movie that no one cares about.

Prognosis: Missing. Can’t find the film anywhere (except on VHS, which, is useless to me), and searches for it are literally like looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s the equivalent of going to a huge music warehouse and searching for “Greatest Hits.” (Tedious.) So, we’re gonna hope (really hard) this turns up through less effort than some of the other missing films on this list.

1961 – The Mark (Stuart Whitman)

— No idea what the deal is with this one. It sounds like it would be available, and just isn’t. I’m guessing it’s due to the subject matter. It’s about a convicted child molester. This is a film that was available on DVD (but is since out of print), and the only copies on Amazon are going for insane prices (at least $50), and, I’m just not at the place where I can afford to pay that much for a single movie. So it seems like it can be found, just, will take some maneuvering.

Prognosis: Should be easier to find than most of the non-DVD films. Not immediately available, but I may be able to find a cheap DVD or come across it in some other way. We’ll see. For now, not really on DVD, sort of hard to find.

1957 – A Hatful of Rain (Anthony Franciosa)

— I found this film on the Scooter Movie Shop, which, if you’re looking for just about any impossible to find movie out there, chances are, you can find it here. I’ve found quite a few films on this list through this site, and, while at the moment I’ve only placed the order for them, I’m assuming everything will go smoothly (always trust movie buffs). I definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for hard to find films.

Prognosis: Purchased. (I wish we could have a big animated stamp that comes down and closes the file on this one.)

1948 – When My Baby Smiles at Me (Dan Dailey)

— Also purchased from the Scooter Movie Shop.

Prognosis: Purchased.

1935 – Black Fury (Paul Muni)

— This film of on DVD from the Warner Archive, a site I’ve used before and can absolutely vouch for. They are fucking awesome. Seriously. If you’re looking for certain films on DVD that may be hard to find, this is the first place to go. Sometimes they even have great deals on famous films. I remember getting An American in Paris and Gigi and A Streetcar Named Desire from them for half of what I’d have paid on Amazon.

They really just have so much stuff on here. I long for the day when I’m successful and well off enough to where I can just buy films in bulk from here and just watch them. This place is a gold mine. They’re real classy for putting these films out there like this.

Also, bonus points for them only making the DVDs on order, so as not to be wasteful and have extras lying around that people might never buy. This way, only when you place an order for a film will they make the DVD. That, my friends, is a classy organization.

Prognosis: On DVD. (Not purchased …. yet.)

1929-30 – The Green Goddess (George Arliss)

— This is a film that’s, as far as I know, out there. I know multiple prints exist. They are in archives, but, it’s not a film that’s known as existing exclusively in archives. It’s definitely not available on DVD or anything, but it’s also not lost. So this is one where, I’m gonna have to wait it out, and then maybe if somehow I get to an archive and can screen it, great. If not, I’ll keep searching and hope for it to play on TCM or something (not that I have cable).

Prognosis: M.I.A. It’s out there, I just don’t know where.

The Big Pond (Maurice Chevalier)

— Also purchased from the Scooter Movie Shop.

Prognosis: Purchased.

Condemned (Ronald Colman)

— Also purchased from the Scooter Movie Shop.

Prognosis: Purchased.

1928-29 – Thunderbolt (George Bancroft)

— Also purchased from the Scooter Movie Shop.

Prognosis: Purchased.

The Valiant (Paul Muni)

— Also purchased from the Scooter Movie Shop.

Prognosis: Purchased.

1927-28 – The Noose (Richard Barthelmess)

— Sadly, this film is not available on DVD. We had a good run, though, didn’t we? I do know, according to IMDB Trivia (which, we should state at this point, is not necessarily the most reliable of sources, but, for this, I assume we can use it as a reasonably accurate compass), that a copy of this film exists in MOMA. Which, now that I’ve moved away from that side of the country, is a bit sad. But on the bright side, it said a copy and not the copy. So perhaps there are others.

Prognosis: A copy exists, but in MOMA. Perhaps elsewhere. But, it exists. So that’s good.

Best Actress

1951 – The Blue Veil (Jane Wyman)

— Also purchased from the Scooter Movie Shop.

Prognosis: Purchased.

1936 – Valiant is the Word for Carrie (Gladys George)

— Also purchased from the Scooter Movie Shop.

Prognosis: Purchased.

1935 – Escape Me Never (Elisabeth Bergner)

— Also purchased from the Scooter Movie Shop.

Prognosis: Purchased.

1929-30 – Sarah and Son (Ruth Chatterton)

— Also purchased from the Scooter Movie Shop. (Isn’t this incredible, how many I found on there?)

Prognosis: Purchased.

Their Own Desire (Norma Shearer)

— This is also available from the Warner Archive.

Prognosis: On DVD. (Not purchased …. yet.)

The Trespasser (Gloria Swanson)

— This film is not on DVD. This film only exists in print form in the Eastman House up in Rochester. Which is also across the country from where I am. But still — exists. We like that it exists.

Prognosis: Exists. At Eastman House. In a print. Tough, but it’s there.

1928-29 – The Barker (Betty Compson)

— This film, I can’t find anything about past, “print exists.” So we know a print exists. Where, exactly, we have no idea. But it is still out there somewhere. I also found out that Ozu remade this film as Floating Weeds. Which, I had no idea about. I like that I know this piece of trivia.

Anyway, a print exists somewhere. The vagueness on that makes it harder to find, but, it exists, so we remain hopeful this can be found one day. Come on, TCM, get on all these films.

Prognosis: A print exists, we just don’t know where.

Best Supporting Actor

1963 – Twilight of Honor (Nick Adams)

— I know nothing about this movie. It’s not listed as missing, so it exists somewhere. It’s definitely not on DVD or VHS in any form that I know about, but it does exist within the world. This feels like a TCM film. Maybe I’ll find it some other way, but for now, it’s M.I.A.

Prognosis: M.I.A. It exists, but no idea where.

1956 – The Bold and the Brave (Mickey Rooney)

— This film exists as a Region 2 DVD. Which, can be purchased. The price is a little high, but, theoretically, this can be purchased.

Prognosis: On DVD. (As of this posting.)

1955 – Trial (Arthur Kennedy)

— This film is just completely impossible to find in any way. It must exist somewhere, because it’s definitely not listed as missing, but, no DVDs or VHS copies seem to exist (the former being the only real important point of order), and I can’t find it anywhere. (Not to mention the problem this film creates when searching for it.)

Prognosis: M.I.A. No clue on this one.

1948 – The Luck of the Irish (Cecil Kellaway)

— This film is available as part of a Tyrone Power Matinee Idol collection on Amazon, released in 2008. It was available on Netflix, but midway through the Quest, became unavailable and has been impossible to find since. The only film I find when I search for it is that (awesome) Disney Channel movie that I know we’ve all seen and remember so well (assuming you’re my age).

But, it’s on DVD and part of the collection. I was hoping to not have to buy all those other films as well (I’m not exactly the biggest Tyrone Power fan), but, it’s on DVD, and that’s what matters.

Prognosis: On DVD.

1945 – A Medal for Benny (J. Carrol Naish)

— This film is available from a different site that isn’t Scooter Movie Shop. It’s the only one I found on there that wasn’t on Scooter Movie Shop (plus, Scooter Movie Shop had lower prices), so I’ll eventually try to buy it. But, for now, it can be gotten. So that’s good. One less thing.

Prognosis: On DVD.

1938 – Kentucky (Walter Brennan)

— Also purchased from the Scooter Movie Shop. (Thank god, since this is the only winner I haven’t seen. Thank you, Scooter Movie Shop!)

Prognosis: Purchased.

Best Supporting Actress

1975 – Jacqueline Susann’s Once is Not Enough (Brenda Vaccaro)

— This film seems to be available on Amazon on DVD. At least, at the moment.

Prognosis: On DVD. (As of this posting.)

1957 – The Bachelor Party (Carolyn Jones)

— Also purchased from the Scooter Movie Shop. (Is it fate that I’m listening to the theme from the A-Team as I write this?)

Prognosis: Purchased.

1951 – The Blue Veil (Joan Blondell)

— See: Best Actress, 1951

Prognosis: Purchased.

1940 – Primrose Path (Marjorie Rambeau)

— This is also available from the Warner Archive.

Prognosis: On DVD. (Not purchased …. yet.)

1938 – Of Human Hearts (Beulah Bondi)

— This is almost certainly a TCM film. There are clips of it on Youtube that look like TCM pulls, plus it’s a Walter Huston/Jimmy Stewart film directed by Clarence Brown. I know this exists. I just haven’t been able to get a hold of it. It’s on VHS. So that just means it never made the jump to DVD and exists in a vault somewhere. I’m sure it’ll turn up eventually.

Prognosis: Definitely exists, but isn’t on DVD. Hoping for TCM to schedule this (and for me to have a way to see it without paying for a month’s worth of cable).

Best Director

1928-29 – Drag (Frank Lloyd)

— I love that I only have two Best Pictures and two Best Directors to watch. This film is said to be available, after being presumed lost, in “a major American film archive.” So, it exists in one of the archives, but we don’t know which one. That makes this very difficult to be able to find, but, we know it exists, so, keep hope alive.

Prognosis: It exists. It’s in a major film archive, we just don’t know which one. But a print exists.

1927-28 (Dramatic) – Sorrell and Son (Herbert Brenon)

This one is problematic. This is one of the few films on this list (I think only the second or maybe third. I know The Rogue Song. There might be one other.) that exists only in pieces. Only small fragments of the film have survived.

But, this film does exist as an incomplete print in AMPAS. There’s no final reel to the film at all. But, a print exists in AMPAS, which is out here, which means, theoretically, if I can somehow get in there and they agree to let me see it, I can see this film.

Prognosis: Negative.

(I had to do that at least once.)

(Also, note how textured that pun was.)

So, in conclusion (since that’s kind of where we are at this point. My dick got a little hard when I said that), here’s the final count on those 33 films:

  • I’ve purchased 12 of them (not going to officially remove them until they show up and are watched)
  • 7 are available on DVD (5 for sure, and 2 almost-definites)
  • 14 are not on DVD and seem to be really hard to find
    • Of the 14, 6 seem to exist only as prints.
    • The other 8 are MIA. No idea what’s up with them.

So it looks like we really only need to worry about 14 films. Pretty great what one can accomplish when one has a purpose, isn’t it?

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