Posts tagged “1937

Mike’s Top Ten of 1937

1937 is a peaks and valleys kind of year. There’s a lot of really solid stuff there, but the very top of the list has some really heavy hitters. Particularly the big one, which was a landmark in the history of cinema and still holds up as one of the greatest accomplishments ever put to the screen.

Otherwise, a lot of cool things here. Like 1936, I’m gonna be doing some talking up of a film that I don’t think gets its proper regard as one of the greatest films ever made. Besides those — some classic comedies, iconic screen stories and another film generally regarded as one of the 50 greatest films ever made.

Another fun fact: this top ten list features the first full Technicolor entry thus far. To this point, only two full color films have appeared as top ten films, and both were two-strip Technicolor. (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1937

Yeesh. What happened here? I can’t explain at all what happened in 1937. The best I can figure is that at this point, the Academy became self-conscious and was trying to do the “Academy” thing, but didn’t really have a choice there. That’s really all I can come up with because I don’t understand it at all.

It’s not that The Life of Emile Zola is a bad film — far from it — it’s just a weak Best Picture winner. It doesn’t hold up at all, and is now one of the worst ten Best Picture winners of all time because of that. The film also won Best Supporting Actress for Joseph Schildkraut (talked about here), which is a bad decision in execution, simply because Schildkraut is barely on screen in the film, but a good one in theory, since the role (Captain Dreyfus, of the Dreyfus Affair) is one that would win this award. Add to that the weak category and it does make some sense. Then, Best Actor was Spencer Tracy for Captains Courageous (talked about here), which I don’t understand but can accept, given the category. It’s really his win the year after this I don’t like. Then Best Actress was Luise Rainer again for The Good Earth (talked about here), another one where she sneaks in. It’s not a particularly good decision, and yet, I can see exactly how it happened. (Still don’t like it, though.) Best Supporting Actress was Alice Brady for In Old Chicago (talked about here), which makes sense, since she was a respected character actress and was playing Mrs. O’Leary (her cow was allegedly what started the great Chicago Fire), but I still feel like Andrea Leeds should have won there. And Best Director was Leo McCarey for The Awful Truth (talked about here), which was a great decision, only for the wrong film. If you’ve ever seen Make Way for Tomorrow, you know that’s the film he really won for this year. Either way, he deserved it.

So, overall — 1937 — probably one of the weakest years in Academy history, in terms of winners and nominees. It’s just not very memorable. Again, this is one of those years that’s memorable for what didn’t win instead of what won. That’s never a good situation to be in.

BEST PICTURE – 1937

And the nominees are…

The Awful Truth (Columbia)

Captains Courageous (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Dead End (Goldwyn, United Artists)

The Good Earth (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

In Old Chicago (20th Century Fox)

The Life of Emile Zola (Warner Bros.)

Lost Horizon (Columbia)

One Hundred Men and a Girl (Universal)

Stage Door (RKO Radio)

A Star Is Born (Selznick International, United Artists) (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1937

I don’t like 1937. I think we’ve established this by now on the blog. I think The Life of Emile Zola is one of the weakest Best Picture choices of all time, and I think the Academy didn’t know what to do here and gave it to that film as a cop out decision. You can tell it probably was that because it didn’t also win this category. Joseph Schildkraut won Best Supporting Actor for the film, which, as I said here, I don’t really care about, even though I didn’t think the performance was anything to write home (or anywhere) about.

Best Actor this year was Spencer Tracy for Captains Courageous (talked about here). I don’t particularly like it as a Best Actor-winning performance, but I can live with it (it’s really his 1938 win that I can’t live with). Best Actress was Luise Rainer for The Good Earth, which, as I said here, I think is a horrible, horrible decision. And Best Supporting Actress was Alice Brady for In Old Chicago. You can read my problems with that decision here.

And this category, I’ve talked about it in the intros of the other articles I’ve written about this year, I think it’s a great decision, but I think it was for the wrong film. So I intend to talk about both the film he won for and the film he should have won for. But either way, this was a great decision.

BEST DIRECTOR – 1937

And the nominees were…

William Dieterle, The Life of Emile Zola

Sidney Franklin, The Good Earth

Gregory La Cava, Stage Door

Leo McCarey, The Awful Truth

William A. Wellman, A Star is Born (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1937

What happened with 1937? It’s just a train wreck. Not a single good decision. Well, one good decision, but even that was for the wrong film.

The Life of Emile Zola wins Best Picture, and it’s one of the weakest Best Picture winners of all time. Definitely one of the ten worst. Joseph Schildkraut also won Best Supporting Actor for the film (talked about here), which, while it is a weak choice and he shouldn’t have won because he’s barely in the film, you can’t really call it unacceptable because the category was so bad. Picking it was just like, “I guess…”

Best Actor was Spencer Tracy for Captains Courageous (talked about here), which, while I don’t like the performance as a Best Actor-winner, I do like the fact that he won here, since it was a perfect year for him to win, and lord knows he was goinna win. (It’s his 1938 win I despise.) Best Supporting Actress this year was Alice Brady for In Old Chicago (talked about here), which I don’t much understand. It seems like a makeup Oscar for them not giving it to her the year prior. Andrea Leeds totally should have won there. She definitely gave the best performance. And Best Director this year was Leo McCarey for The Awful Truth, which, while I love the film and love that he won (because he totally should have won), the film he should have won for was Make Way for Tomorrow, which he himself said as he accepted his Oscar. Which is really just the bow on this messed up year that was 1937.

Which brings us to this category, which — given the talent that’s in this category, how — how — can they give it to the actress that won this the year before?! For a performance that was a supporting part! It’s mind-boggling how they could fuck this up. You could say — I’m not, but one could — that this single category is the reason that Irene Dunne, Greta Garbo and Barbara Stanwyck don’t have Oscars. That’s fucked up.

BEST ACTRESS – 1937

And the nominees were…

Irene Dunne, The Awful Truth

Janet Gaynor, A Star is Born

Greta Garbo, Camille

Luise Rainer, The Good Earth

Barbara Stanwyck, Stella Dallas (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1937

I don’t like 1937 at all. I consider it one of the weakest years in Academy history. The Life of Emile Zola wins Best Picture in a real weak decision. It’s the first year the Academy seemed to have not known what to do, and said, “Well, what’s the safe, “Academy” decision?” and went with that. It’s a weak winner. Strong film, but a weak winner. The fact that it didn’t win Best Director tells you it wasn’t an overwhelmingly popular choice. Joseph Schildkraut also won Best Supporting Actor for the film (talked about here), which makes sense, even though it’s pretty weak and the category really sucked.

Best Director this year went to Leo McCarey for The Awful Truth (which didn’t win Best Picture because it’s a comedy), which, is a good decision, only they made it for the wrong film. McCarey also directed Make Way for Tomorrow this year, which everyone (including him. He said it when he won the award) feels is the film he should have won for. Best Actress this year was Luise Rainer for The Good Earth, which I don’t like at all. Here, they had the opportunity to give an Oscar to Barabara Stanwyck, Irene Dunne and Greta Garbo, and they give it to Luise Rainer (who won the year before this) for a performance that’s just okay. It makes no sense. And Best Supporting Actress was Alice Brady for In Old Chicago, which, as I said here, I understand from a legitimization perspective, but not a category one. Andrea Leeds definitely should have won that.

So that’s why I don’t like 1937. I don’t like any of the decisions. Not one of them. And then there’s this one. I understand it, but I don’t like it.

BEST ACTOR – 1937

And the nominees were…

Charles Boyer, Conquest

Frederic March, A Star is Born

Robert Montgomery, Night Must Fall

Paul Muni, The Life of Emile Zola

Spencer Tracy, Captains Courageous (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1937

I hate 1937. It feels like such a waste. The Life of Emile Zola is just a weak, weak Best Picture choice. Good film, yes, but just a weak choice. I know a lot of people would say The Awful Truth was the best film this year, but, it’s a comedy, and that wasn’t gonna win. Really, the film that should have won was A Star is Born. It’s such an iconic story, how could they not give it to that? But I digress.

Best Director this year was Leo McCarey for The Awful Truth. This is regarded as a good decision, but for the wrong film. Even McCarey said that when he won. You see, he also directed a film called Make Way for Tomorrow this year, which is basically a film about old people, and how the young ignore them, and it’s kind of an “old people matter too!” film. It’s really great. Anyway, he won for the wrong film. Best Actor this year was Spencer Tracy for Captains Courageous, which, isn’t a great decision, but I can go with it, I guess. Best Actress was Luise Rainer for The Good Earth, which I haven’t fully made up my mind on yet. Soon though. I’ll let you know soon. And Best Supporting Actress was Alice Brady for In Old Chicago, which, as I said here, is an acceptable decision historically, but not a good one based on the category.

So that’s 1937. Weak Best Picture choice, the Best Director choice was for the wrong film, Best Actor is just a strange choice, Best Actress is fine, I guess, Best Supporting Actress is sort of fine, but also a bit weak, and this category is — well, let’s talk about it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1937

And the nominees were…

Ralph Bellamy, The Awful Truth

Thomas Mitchell, The Hurricane

Joseph Schildkraut, The Life of Emile Zola

H.B. Warner, Lost Horizon

Roland Young, Topper (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1937

Very important category. The second Best Supporting Actress category ever. As such, we have to view it in terms of legitimacy as much as we view it simply as just another category. That is, just like all the other categories — Picture, Director, Actor and Actress — the first few are always the ones that make it legitimate. Example: the first few Best Actor and Best Actress awards went to: Emil Jannings, Janet Gaynor, Mary Pickford, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Frederic March, Charles Laughton — these are all really highly regarded actors at this time. These people had to get the awards in order to legitimize them and actually make them something worth having. Then, once they’re established, then they can start voting. Foundation. That’s the word I’m looking for. So this category is part of a foundation.

The first Best Supporting Actress award went to Gale Sondergaard for Anthony Adverse. She was a very respected character actress of the day, so it makes sense. Here, Alice Brady, another respected character actress, wins. This is a good decision historically. You establish what a supporting performance is by holding up the best known examples. There’s a reason Walter Brennan won Supporting Actor three times in the first five years of its existence. So for the first five years (1936-1940), you have to allow some leeway in the decision-making just to take into account the legitimization of the category. Bad decisions aren’t necessarily bad until the category is established.

And to recap the rest of this year before we get into the category. The Life of Emile Zola wins Best Picture, which is actually a bad decision. It makes some sense, but it’s not a very good decision and it’s a pretty weak effort overall. Spencer Tracy wins Best Actor for Captains Courageous, the first of his two back-to-back wins. I don’t love this decision, but I’ll accept it. It’s the second of his two wins that I really consider the terrible one. Best Actress this year was Luise Rainer for The Good Earth, the second of her back-to-back wins. I haven’t made up my mind on this one yet. There are a lot of elements to take into account. I’m gonna need a bit more time on this one. Best Supporting Actor, in its second year of existence, goes to Joseph Schildkraut for The Life of Emile Zola, which, I guess is fine. Haven’t yet decided on that one either. Oh, and Best Director this year went to Leo McCarey, for The Awful Truth, which was the best decision they could have made — only it was for the wrong film. I’ll explain that when I get to the category. All you need to know now is that it was a great decision.

Overall I consider this a weak year. This has little to do with the Supporting categories though, since they’re on their own timeline at this point. Still, a weak year. (more…)