Oscar History

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Entries in Oscars (40s) (92)


Retro Randomness: Come to the Stable (1949)

by Nathaniel R

Have you ever queued up an old movie no one talks about anymore hoping to discover a gem?

You imagine that it's only been forgotten or is underdiscussed due to the vagaries of when and where movies are available in the ever changing landcape of viewing technologies, Such was my fantasy when I sat down to watch Come to the Stable (1949). This French nuns in New England comedy was my biggest viewing gap in 1949 Oscar history. In fact, I didn't even know it was a comedy.

Alas the fantasy of stumbling upon a forgotten gem didn't last long. Still, Come to the Stable's tagline must have been true in 1949. It read...

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The Furniture: Into the Marshes with Ida Lupino and Elsa Lanchester

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

This week marks 100 years since the birth of pioneering director and actress Ida Lupino. Twitter has been full of tributes to her work, including the eight feature films she directed. We've discussed a few of her films here before as well. For my part, I highly recommend her two episodes of The Twilight Zone.

However, I’m going to look at a movie from before she made the leap to directing, the only one in her filmography to receive a Best Art Direction nomination. 1941’s Ladies in Retirement is both a thriller and a play adaptation, a genre we don’t see too often anymore. But in that era it was fairly common, from comedies like Arsenic and Old Lace to the more explicitly malevolent Night Must Fall and Gaslight.

The setting of Ladies in Retirement, according to Reginald Denham and Edward Percy’s original play, is the “Living Room of an Old House on the Marshes of the Thames Estuary Some Ten Miles to the East of Gravesend, 1885.”

Of course, this being 1941, a location shoot in Kent would have been impossible even if the studio had wanted it. Instead, the marshes were built into a sound stage. The team was so proud of their ersatz swamp that they even set the opening credits in the muddy water!

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114 days until Oscar

This season's Oscar ceremony, the Academy's 90th annual shindig, is on March 4th, 2018. Did you know that only two Oscar ceremonies have ever happened on a March 4th? Late February, Late March, and early April have been the most frequent time frames over the decades.

the acting winners of '42: Van Heflin, Greer Garson, James Cagney, and Teresa Wright

Both of the March 4th ceremonies were very early in Oscar history:The 1936 Oscars honoring The Great Ziegfeld (March 4th, 1937 at the Biltmore Hotel) and the 1942 Oscars honoring Mrs Miniver (March 4th, 1943 at the Cocoanut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel). I was delighted to realize that we've written about a few of the winners from those years in the past: the dance direction in The Great Ziegfeld,  My Gal Sal's Art Direction, Mrs Miniver as Best Picture, The Great Ziegfeld as Best Picture, and Black Swan's Cinematography


Podcast Smackdown Companion: Gaslight, Since You Went Away...

Please read the Supporting Actress Smackdown of 1944 before listening please!

After voting in the Smackdown Nathaniel and the panel which included Mark Harris, Loren King, Farran Smith Nehme, Molly Pope, and Matthew Rettenmund got together to talk about the five films we watched and that era in Hollywood during World War II. We hope you enjoy the conversation!

Index (62 minutes)
00:01 Introductions of the Panel
03:00 Dragon Seed, yellowface, production trouble, and Oscar theories
11:50 Since You Went Away, war propaganda, and acting styles
24:00 None but the Lonely Heart, Cary Grant, Barrymore and "great lady" acting
38:50 Gaslight and Mrs Parkington
51:30 Our favorites of 1944 including Meet Me in St Louis and Double Indemnity
57:30 The forgotten Wilson, final Oscar notes and goodbyes.

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunesContinue the conversations in the comments, won't you?

Gladys Cooper downing the drinks! Was she watching Dragon Seed, too?

FYC after listening...
Mark's "Five Came Back" as a miniseries on Netflix
Matthew's new nostalgia site Gr8ter Days
Molly co-stars in Bulldozer: The Ballad of Robert Moses (previews begin Nov 25th)
Farran's book "Missing Reel"

Smackdown 1944


Smackdown '44: Agnes, Aline, Angela, Ethel, and Jennifer Jones

Presenting the Supporting Actresses of '44. A low class maid, a French baroness, a patriotic nurse, a weary shop-owner and a "Chinese" village woman battled it out for Oscar gold. We're here to re-judge that contest. 


from left to right: Barrymore, Jones, Lansbury, MacMahon, Moorehead

Oscar was still besotted with recent nominees Jennifer Jones & Agnes Moorehead (both on their quick second nominations) but joining the party were two veterans who'd never been honored (Ethel Barrymore & Aline MacMahon) and one very fresh face who would go on to an enviably long cross-platform showbiz career, now in its 73rd year (!) -- Angela Lansbury in her film debut! 

Notable supporting roles for women that the Academy passed over in 1944 were Mary Astor (Meet Me in St Louis), Shirley Temple (Since You Went Away), Dame May Whitty (Gaslight), and Joseph Hull & Jean Adair (Arsenic & Old Lace). Can you think of any others?


Here to talk about these five nominated turns, are: critic and writer Mark Harris (Five Came Back), journalist Loren King (The Boston Globe), critic and novelist Farran Smith Nehme (Self Styled Siren), cabarettist and actress Molly Pope, blogger and novelist Matthew Rettenmund (Boy Culture), and your host Nathaniel R (The Film Experience). And now it's time for the main event... 


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Come on in... ! 

Joseph Cotten's painting of Claudette Colbert in "Since You Went Away"

It's your last chance to have your say in Sunday's 1944 Supporting Actress Smackdown. Do we have to make a beautiful propaganda poster to entice you? Be patriotic* and vote 

*Oscar is our motherland.



Credit Where Credit is Due... 1944 Style

The Smackdown is just six days away so as the panelists finish their screenings, remember that your ballots are due Friday. After a few old movie screenings in a row I get nostalgic for those old school title cards. I hate that so many modern movies are skipping opening credits altogether and doubling up at the end to fulfill their star contracts. Anyway, let's look at the billing situation for the Supporting Actress nominees just for fun after the jump...

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1944: The Three Caballeros

by Tim Brayton

We're celebrating the cinema 1944 right now at the Film Experience, and as the resident animation lover, how could I pass up the chance to take a look at that year's most wonderfully bizarre cartoon? I'm referring to Disney's The Three Caballeros, the studio's second feature-length contribution to the United States government's Good Neighbor policy during World War II. That program involved goodwill tours and films tailor-made for Latin American audiences, and in Disney's case, a combination of both: a research trip to South America with Walt Disney and several of his most important artists result in the creation of 1942's Saludos Amigos, in which international icons Donald Duck and Goofy had fun visiting Brazil and Argentina, respectively, and learning all about the locals.

Saludos Amigos is a charming, slight movie (at 42 minutes, it severely tests the definition of the term "feature film"), and exactly what you'd anticipate from the description "the U.S. government paid Disney to make a film about how great people in South America are, in the fumbling, patronizing manner of 1940s Hollywood".

Its quasi-sequel is not that at all... 

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