Friday, October 8, 2010

Film Yap: And the Nominees Were - 1937

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.

We have reached a new landmark with the films in 1937. We have our first film in color. Sure there was that one segment in Hollywood Revue of 1929 but that didn’t count because that was colorized in post. And we don’t like that film. We couldn’t help but notice that there were two extremes with the films in this set. Either the film was tragically about death or it was a lighter comedy. Let’s see which ones worked…

The Awful Truth

Leo McCarey has been very impressive so far in his career. He’s made Duck Soup and Ruggles of Red Gap, the latter of which I’ve called one of the unsung American comedy classics. This is one of his most popular films starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as a couple who recently divorced but continue to try and make the other one jealous. It’s not as funny as some of his other films, but it’s still charming.

Captains Courageous

Spencer Tracy won his first Oscar as the wise fisherman who teaches young Fredie Bartholomew about life. This is a very fun movie that successfully takes its time with the character arcs. It may become too sappy at the end, but it’s still an exciting movie that would work well with children today.

Dead End

McCarey had been impressing us with comedies, but it has been William Wyler as the emerging dramatic director. We adored Dodsworth for not falling into the other traps of the movies from this time. Yet Dead End is a bit of a step-back as it feels too stagy and rather annoying character. This is our earliest showing of Humphrey Bogart and he is still awesome.

The Good Earth

There was a little bit of disagreement about this film on the podcast. Some of us were enthralled by its long epic tale of poor Chinese farmers (Of course played by Paul Muni and Luise Rainer). Its pacing allows for some satisfying emotional conclusions and it’s a really strong story. At least, that’s just my opinion…

In Old Chicago

Remember when we reviewed San Francisco? This is pretty much the same movie. Very half-assed and unlikable melodrama for the first 3/4ths and then it’s a random disaster movie for the last twenty minutes. Be very cautious from now on if a city’s name is in the title.

The Life of Emile Zola – WINNER

Paul Muni created an odd niche for himself as the guy who stars as the titular famous character. This movie is much stronger than The Story of Louis Pasteur though because oddly enough it tells a story instead of trying to summarize Zola’s life. The film is centered around a trial of an innocent man and how the author did everything he could to save the man.

Lost Horizon

Now this is a movie. This is a Frank Capra movie that no one remembers, but may be my favorite one of his now. Ronald Coleman is a beloved Englishman who was in China to rescue people from genocide. The plane taking him home mysterious crashes and he is taken to a mystical utopian society. There are plenty of parallels to the TV show LOST and the ambition for this movie pays off.

One Hundred Men and a Girl

This movie, on the other hand, has no ambition. After Three Smart Girls Deanna Durbin somehow became a star. Also since that movie, her acting became worse. This is a very annoying movie where she wants 100 out of work musicians to have the chance to run a music hall. Eugene Pallette and Alice Brady try their best to make this enjoyable.

Stage Door

As annoying as One Hundred Men and a Girl was, it wasn’t comparable to this movie. Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball and other women all want to be Broadway actresses but they spend most of their time complaining with dreadful banter. Bleh.

A Star is Born

This film has been made countless times and serves as the staple for showing the horrors of Hollywood. Yet, this is still a delightful movie. Janet Gaynor (Sunrise, State Fair) is the blooming young actress and Fredric March (The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Anthony Adverse) is the established star wanting to bring her in. Plenty of inside jokes and its fresh use of color makes this a very fun movie.

We discuss these movies with a lot more detail on our show And the Nominees Are as well as discussing the other awards from this year. This set was covered over two episodes both of which can be found for free on iTunes. We’d love it if you left us a review! Our show is also on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’d like to play along with us, the next 10 films for 1938 are The Adventures of Robin Hood, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Boys Town, The Citadel, Four Daughters, Grand Illusion, Jezebel, Pygmalion, Test Pilot, and You Can’t Take It With You.

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