Mike’s Top Ten of 1942
You’d think maybe there’d be a bit of a drop off, the year after Citizen Kane. But no, we come right back with Casablanca. And about five or six other really iconic and incredible movies. (I mean like, all-time iconic and not just regular iconic.)
The big thing to discuss for 1942 is that it’s the first year of World War II. The U.S. entered the war at the end of 1941, and this was the first year you start to see incredibly pro-war effort films start to come out there. That is really the main trend for the year.
Outside of that, the year is full of terrific biopics and classy dramas. And one film that is one of the most entertaining and underrated hidden gems out there, that almost nobody knows about today. (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1942
Things changed this year. Now America is in the war. So you have to shift your thinking to taking that into account. The war was a huge deal. Patriotism (and to an extent propaganda) was a big thing. And that’s ultimately what helps this year make sense.
Mrs. Miniver is a good film, but more importantly — it’s a good war film. It promotes the values of the family sticking together during war time and doing their part to help out their country, despite hardships that come of it. A film like this makes sense for 1942. It also won Best Director for William Wyler (talked about here), Best Actress for Greer Garson (talked about here), and Best Supporting Actress for Teresa Wright (talked about here). All were fine decisions, ranging from simply okay to really great. Best Actor was James Cagney for Yankee Doodle Dandy (talked about here), which was an amazing decision. And Best Supporting Actor was Van Heflin for Johnny Eager (talked about here), which was a pretty insignificant decision in one of the weakest Best Supporting Actor categories of all time.
So, overall, while I’m sure we all prefer a different film for Best Picture, 1942 is a solid year. There’s really not much else to say. There’s a war on, Fink.
BEST PICTURE – 1942
And the nominees were…
49th Parallel (GFD, Columbia)
Kings Row (Warner Bros.)
The Magnificent Ambersons (Mercury, RKO Radio)
Mrs. Miniver (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
The Pied Piper (20th Century Fox)
The Pride of the Yankees (Goldwyn, RKO Radio)
Random Harvest (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
The Talk of the Town (Columbia)
Wake Island (Paramount)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (Warner Bros.) (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1942
I call 1942 an “of course” year. Because of course a film like Mrs. Miniver would win Best Picture in a year like this. Middle of the war — film about a family dealing with war — of course it would win.
William Wyler won Best Director for the film (talked about here), Greer Garson won Best Actress for it (talked about here), and Teresa Wright won Best Supporting Actress for it (talked about here). And James Cagney won Best Actor for Yankee Doodle Dandy (talked about here). All decisions ranging from good to great.
But this category — holy shit is it bad. One of the single weakest — if not the weakest — Best Supporting Actor categories of all time. It’s really, really awful. And it’s so bad, that — honestly it didn’t matter who won. It’s that bad. I skip over this one constantly. It’s like that one family member everyone forgets to invite to stuff. You know — what’s his name. Who sucks.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1942
And the nominees were…
William Bendix, Wake Island
Van Heflin, Johnny Eager
Walter Huston, Yankee Doodle Dandy
Frank Morgan, Tortilla Flat
Henry Travers, Mrs. Miniver (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1942
1942. It’s pretty cut and dry and understandable all the way through. I like that.
Mrs. Miniver wins Best Picture, Best Director for William Wyler (talked about here), this category, and Best Supporting Actress for Teresa Wright (talked about here). Picture had to happen, because it’s a war film made during the peak war years, promoting family and strength and togetherness, and — it just had to win. It wasn’t going to not win. Director was going the way of Picture, so that’s that Teresa Wright — she was also nominated for Best Actress this year, and was up-and-coming. There was no way she wasn’t winning something. And this category I’ll tell you about in just a second.
The other categories this year were Best Actor, which went to James Cagney for Yankee Doodle Dandy (talked about here), which was a terrific decision (especially since Gary Cooper won the year before this), and Best Supporting Actor, which went to Van Heflin for Johnny Eager, which was a bad decision in a terrible category. So whatever.
And this category — had to happen. She was really overdue by this point, and the only reason she didn’t have won already was because she lost to a makeup Oscar. So now she gets her makeup Oscar, and everything works out just fine.
BEST ACTRESS – 1942
And the nominees are…
Bette Davis, Now, Voyager
Greer Garson, Mrs. Miniver
Katharine Hepburn, Woman of the Year
Rosalind Russell, My Sister Eileen
Teresa Wright, Pride of the Yankees (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1942
1942 is a year that — kind of like a lesser 1946, no one could really do anything about. World War II was in full swing, and the Academy was obviously gonna go with a film that pushed forward the war effort. That, mixed with the fact that it was a relatively weak set of Best Picture nominees — it makes sense.
Mrs. Miniver wins Best Picture, Best Actress for Greer Garson, Best Supporting Actress for Teresa Wright (talked about here), and Best Director for William Wyler (talked about here). All were actually great decisions.
The non-Miniver decisions for the year were Van Heflin as Best Supporting Actor for Johnny Eager, which might have been the weakest Best Supporting Actor category of all time, and this category.
This category is actually a great one, because it was a perfect opportunity to award James Cagney. If Gary Cooper didn’t win this category the year before this, chances are Cagney wouldn’t have won here. But Cooper did win, so Cagney was able to get his well-deserved Oscar. And that’s good.
BEST ACTOR – 1942
And the nominees were…
James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy
Gary Cooper, The Pride of the Yankees
Ronald Colman, Random Harvest
Walter Pidgeon, Mrs. Miniver
Monty Woolley, The Pied Piper (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1942
Like 1942 but don’t love it. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the Best Picture choice feels too easy. It’s a good film, but not a definitive winner to me. And the year doesn’t seem to have that definitive winner (though, historically, they did make a good choice. I’m all about how the Oscars tie into history).
Mrs. Miniver wins Best Picture, Best Director for William Wyler (talked about here), Best Actress for Greer Garson, and this category. I love all of these decisions. (Though as an addendum to that, I’d have voted for Teresa Wright in Best Actress, because I voted for Greer Garson the year before this in Blossoms in the Dust because I think that performance was better, so me voting for Garson there and Wright this year meant that I voted for someone else in this category. Ya follow?)
The non-Miniver Oscars went to James Cagney, as Best Actor for Yankee Doodle Dandy (a fantastic decision) and Best Supporting Actor was Van Heflin for Johnny Eager, which is the biggest blank in the history of that category.
So let’s get into this one, which, as I already said, I love the decision, but through my bookkeeping, I’m voting for something else. Don’t worry, I’ll explain everything.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1942
And the nominees were…
Gladys Cooper, Now Voyager
Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons
Susan Peters, Random Harvest
Dame May Whitty, Mrs. Miniver
Teresa Wright, Mrs. Miniver (more…)
The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1942
1942, to me, is a lot of bridesmaids without a bride. I understand why Mrs. Miniver won Best Picture — it’s a solid film, a wartime story, and it’s about family, and that’s what they needed during WW II — but to me, there could have been a better choice. And yet, of the rest of the choices, the only films I could see possibly voting for over it were, 49th Parallel, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Pride of the Yankees, and Yankee Doodle Dandy. But of those, 49th Parallel isn’t a good choice, Ambersons was so creatively compromised, Dandy shouldn’t have won, and Pride of the Yankees, while my favorite film nominated, feels like a lesser choice, historically, than Mrs. Miniver.
Teresa Wright also won Best Supporting Actress for Mrs. Miniver, which is a great decision, since she probably should have won Best Actress this year (in this man’s opinion), but Greer Garson (who also won for Miniver) really needed to win because she was passed over the year before this so they could give Joan Fontaine her makeup Oscar. So what ended up happening was, Fontaine wins, bumps Garson to here, and Garson bumps Wright to Supporting, so everything worked out. Then Best Actor this year was James Cagney for Yankee Doodle Dandy, a decision I’m sure everyone loves (to me, Gary Cooper was better in Pride of the Yankees, but he won the year before this, so it all worked out). And Best Supporting Actor was Van Heflin in Johnny Eager, which, I don’t like, but, in a category that weak, it’s not like it matters at all.
And this category — pretty simple. Comes with the territory. Sure, based on the fact that he won three times, you could say, “Give it to someone else here,” but, honestly, I don’t see anyone else with an effort that deserves to beat it.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1942
And the nominees were…
Michael Curtiz, Yankee Doodle Dandy
John Farrow, Wake Island
Meryn LeRoy, Random Harvest
Sam Wood, Kings Row
William Wyler, Mrs. Miniver (more…)