Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Film Yap: And the Nominees Were - 1936

Austin Lugar, Keith Jackson and Kenny Jones started a podcast called And the Nominees Are. On this show they are attempting to review every single Best Picture nominee starting from the very beginning. Here Austin recaps the plot summaries of each set while teasing the longer discussions.

Whenever there are 10 nominees, we split it up into two episodes. This allows us to post shows at a decent time and the task doesn’t seem as overwhelming. We watch them in alphabetical order, just for simplicity sake. So it was very silly when we recorded the first episode and we were so enthusiastic about the films. Then we got to the second half and were very underwhelmed. Well, just check out these summaries…

Anthony Adverse

I hated this movie! For so many shows I’ve complained about clumsy and overstuffed adaptations and this is the worst yet. An entire life is jam-packed into this movie void of its own emotions. Anthony Adverse has a busy life. Plenty of family drama, traveling to Cuba, becoming a slave trader, and more silly stuff. Despite talented actors like Fredric March, Olivia de Havilland, Anita Louise, and Claude Rains this one is a dud.


On the other hand, this one is great. This is exactly what I want in an adaptation. Its story and characters are translated well and they never feel artificial. Sam and Fran Dodsworth go on a European vacation after Sam finally retires from his business. During the trip, Fran has difficulty accepting that she is becoming older. This story is top notch and knew how to end it.

The Great Ziegfeld – WINNER

Another complaint on the show is that when movies try to encompass a life, it’s too short of a movie and feels cramped. We got our wish with The Great Ziegfeld which is around 3 hours long. William Powell plays the ambitious Flo Ziegfeld, the creator of the Ziegfeld follies. It’s not a great movie, but there is plenty of entertainment for the duration. It never feels like a very long movie.

Libeled Lady

This was one of our big arguments on the show. I was completely won over by this top-notch screwball comedy with William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy, and Jean Harlow. Kenny was less impressed. The plot is lovably complicated and expertly written to accommodate each character’s motivation. I also think it’s very funny. Kenny on the other hand…

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

It’s so difficult not to be charmed over by Frank Capra. His plots are often a bit flimsy, but there is so much pure energy in his films that it all ends up working. This is another wonderful Capra film that shouldn’t work, but does in spades. Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) inherits millions of dollars and his simpler ways are taken as odd in the big mean city. Ignore the Adam Sandler version.

Romeo and Juliet

Neither of us are big fans of the original Shakespeare play. The writing is beautiful, but the story always leaves me cold. This one is not the worst adaptation, but it’s not the best. Both of the leads (Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer) are too old to play lovesick teenagers. George Cukor does know how to put together an impressive looking movie, in regards to set and costumes. Characters sadly fall to the wayside.

San Francisco

How did this one fail? We love Clark Gable and we adore Jeannette MacDonald. Instead this movie is almost void of conflict until the last half hour turns into a random disaster movie. That last half hour is really exciting, but the romantic triangle with no chemistry or stakes is just tiresome.

The Story of Louis Pasteur

This movie is fine. It’s not good and it’s not dreadful. It’s just fine. Paul Muni plays the titular Pasteur and we see him teach people about germs. It works as a video that could be shown to children to teach them to wash their hands, but most of what is over-described is basic knowledge by this point. Also Pasteur’s naysayers aren’t exactly convincing to say the least.

A Tale of Two Cities

Boring, boring, boring, boring. I’ve read the book and love the book but this movie has nothing going for it aside from a strong performance by Ronald Coleman. Yet Coleman isn’t even playing both characters and those who knows the story, that makes things a bit difficult to visualize. This movie is just lifeless and too reliant on title cards to create the necessary emotion.

Three Smart Girls

The title is a lie. In fact, it’s very easy to call this movie stupid. Three sisters travel to New York to stop their father from marrying someone who just wants his money. Its premise and tone is similar to The Parent Trap, but sadly that movie made more sense. This one just tries these odd things that don’t pan out. We’re probably too mean towards it, but in our defense the Academy nominated this for BEST PICTURE. Capra, it ain’t.

So some of the movies were some of the best we’ve reviewed so far, while others were just very lame. This seems to be the norm lately. We discuss these movies with a lot more detail on our show And the Nominees Are. This set was covered over three episodes both of which can be found for free on iTunes. Our show is also on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’d like to play along with us, the next 10 films for 1937 are The Awful Truth, Captains Courageous, Dead End, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, The Life of Emile Zola, Lost Horizon, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Stage Door and A Star is Born.

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