OSCARS (ACADEMY AWARDS)
1927/28 Best Film - Wings, Best Actor - Emil Jannings (The Last Command), Best Actress - Janet Gaynor (Seventh Heaven, Street Angel and Sunrise)
1928/29 Best Film - Broadway Melody, Best Actor - Warner Baxter (In Old Arizona), Best Actress - Mary Pickford (Cocquette)
1929/30 Best Film - All Quiet on the Western Front, Best Actor - George Arliss (Disraeli), Best Actress - Norma Shearer(the Divorcee)
1930/31 Best Film - Cimarron, Best Actor - Lionel Barrymore (A Free Soul), Best Actress - Marie Dressler(Min and Bill)
1931/32 Best Film - Grand Hotel, Best Actor - Wallace Beery(The Champ), Best Actress - Helen Hayes (The Sin of Madelon Claudet)
1932/33 Best Film - Cavalcade, Best Actor - Charles Laughton(The Private Life of Henry VIII), Best Actress - Katherine Hepburn(Morning Glory)
1934 Best Film - It Happened One Night, Best Actor - Clark Gable(It Happened One Night), Best Actress - Claudette Colbert(It Happened One Night)
1935 Best Film - Mutiny on the Bounty, Best Actor - Victor McLaglen (The Informer), Best Actress - Bette Davis(Dagerous)
1936 Best Film - The Great Ziegfeld, Best Actor - Paul Muni(The Story of Louis Pasteur), Best Actress - Luise Rainer(The Great Ziegfeld)
1937 Best Film - The Life of Emile Zola, The Best Actor - Spencer Tracy (Captains Courageous), Best Actress - Luise Rainer(The Good Earth)
1938 Best Film - You Can’t Take It With You, Best Actor - Spencer Tracy(BoysTown), Best Actress - Bette Davis (Jezebel)
Sternberg’s `Blue Angel` makes Marlene a star
Berlin 1 April 1930. UFA’s first talking picture is The Blue Angel, directed by Joseph von Sternberg. He returned from Hollywood to handle the picture, adapted from the Heinrich Mann novel Professor Unrath, at the request of UFA and The Blue Angel’s star, actor Emil Jannings. So far so good, but Strenberg immediately ran into a problem over his choice of his leading lady to play Lola Lola, the promiscuous dance-hall singer who first enslaves then destroys Jannings’ stuffy schoolmaster. Jannings and producer Erich Pommer had their own candidates for the role, but Sternberg insisted on casting the 28-year-old Marlene Dietrich whom he had spotted in a Berlin revue, “Two neckties”.
To just about everybody else involved in the film, Dietrich’s screen test appeared quite unexceptional, however Sternberg saw in Dietrich already a familiar figure in German films, the quality of cheap but overpowering sexuality which makes Lola Lola so compelling a figure. Sternberg’s judgement was proved correct as son as the cameras began to roll.
Second year of the Academy Awards
Los Angeles 5 November 1930. For the second consecutive year, the Academy Awards ceremony has taken place at the Ambassador Hotel. As was expected, the Best Picture for 1929/30 was All Quiet on the Western Front, with its director Lewis Milestone, receiving the Best Director award. This year, a new award had to be designed to honour Sound Recording. The first winner is Douglas Shearer, for his work on the prison drama the Big House, Norma Shearer, Douglas’ sister, was the winner of the Best Actress award for her performance in The Divorcee. It is a role that Greta Garbo turned down because she was offended by the story of a liberated woman who seeks vengeance on her philandering husband by taking two lovers. Norma Shearer was given the role because she begged her husband Irving Thalberg, to let her play something more daring than usual. The Best Actor was George Arliss, making his sound debut inn the lead of Disraeli at the age of 61. The winners for 1928/29 were given their Academy Awards last April. Broadway Melody was named Best Picture.
Best Actress Dressler is a surprise winner
Hollywood 10 November 1931
Glamour was very much on display
Among the Best Actress nominees at the fourth Academy Award banquet that was held in the Biltmore Hotel and attended by Vice President Charles Curtis. At the gala were German star Marlene Dietrich, who made her sensational Hollywood debut in Morocco, cool blonde Ann Harding for Holiday, patrician beauty Irene Dunne for Cimarron, and Norma Shearer last year’s winner for A Free Soul. But all lost to overweight, frumpish, 61-year-old Marie Dressler for her performance in Min and Bill. Shearer presented the statuette to her with the words ,” to the grandest trouper of them all - the grand old fire horse of the screen”.
Lugosi’s Dracula and Karloff’s Frankenstein, rivals in horror
Hollywood 21 November 1931. Thanks to Universal, Hollywood is enjoying a horror boom. With Bela Lugosi in the title role, Tod Browning’s Dracula, was an immediate hit when it was released last February, and now it is the turn of director James Whale’s Frankenstein, to pull in big audiences. Adapted from a play by Peggy Webling, which in turn drew on Mary Shelly’s celebrated Gothic novel, the film stars Colin Clive as the scientist who creates an uncontrollable monster. But it is the monster, played by Boris Karloff, who carries off the honours. Brilliantly made up by Jack Pierse, who made him an 18 inches taller and a full 65 pounds heavier. The studio now has two new stars.
Johnny Weissmuller is the new jungle king.
New York 25 March 1932. Cinema’s sixth and last Tarzan is former Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller, the man who scooped a total of five gold medals at the 1924 and 1928 games. In 1929, undefeated and acknowledged as the world’s finest swimmer. Johnny turned professional, appearing in a series of aquatic extravaganzas and a number of short swimming films. MGM sat up and took notice then quickly moved in to screen test the brawny handsome Olympian when the actor they had signed for a new Tarzan adventure fell ill. Everything went swimmingly, and Metro signed Weissmuller at $250 a week to star as Edgar Rice Burrough’s hero in Tarzan the Ape Man.
Venice launches international festival
Venice 21 August 1932. For two years there has ben the American International Film Festival, and now in Italy they have decided to have their own film festival - the International Exhibition of Cinematographic Arts (or Mostra) - in Venice. The Biennale of Art in Venice has displayed the artistic trends in Europe, revealing that the public is avid for novelty.
The idea of inviting film to play its part, emanated from the sculptor Antonio Mariani. The Mostra opens its doors on 6 August on the Lido, and presented 29 films from many different countries. Included in the programme was Rouben Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for which Frederick March was particularly praised.
Eroticism is on the loose with `Ecstasy`
Prague 20 January 1932. The Czech film, Ecstasy, from director Gustav Machaty,
Is evidence of great success that flirts with scandal. The audience will not soon forget the 10-minute scene where the heroine bathes totally nude at night in the moonlight, clearly revealing the superb figure of the 19 year-old actress Hedy Kiesler. She plays a child bride whose husband is impotent, and who gives herself to a stranger, a road engineer. After she is granted a divorce, she refuses to go away with her lover when her ex-husband commits suicide.
Fatty Arbuckle, the end of a wasted life.
New York 29 June 1933. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle one of the kings of early silent comedy, has died penniless and forgotten. His career foundered in 1921 after he was tried for the manslaughter of actress Virginia Rappe, who died after being taken ill at a debauched party thrown by Arbuckle in a San Francisco hotel. It was alleged that Arbuckle had tried to rape her. After three trials, Arbuckle was acquitted but the resulting storm turned up even more skeletons. Four years earlier Arbuckle and a number of top movie executives had ben involved in another scandalous party which had been hushed up thanks to some generous bribes. The studio bosses’ own hypocrisy had been revealed and this could not be forgiven.
German cinema under the control of the Nazis.
Berlin 13 December 1933. Hans Westmar, has revealed the new face of German cinema, exactly as did Hitler Junge Quex, released on 19 September. The film’s directors Hans Steinhoff and Franz Wenzler, have propagated Nazi ideology by inflaming youth with a vision of a better life and political responsibility. The Third Reich is very demanding and films must be irreproachable. Thus a film by Franz Wenzler, Horst Wessel, was sen once and promptly banned. According to the official communiqué the film did not do sufficient justice to the national movement; the real Horst Wessel was more of a hooligan than a hero. The director reworked the film, and Horst became Hans Westman. An ideal martyr.
Hepburn and Joan Bennett in
Columbia’s happy hike to box office
Hollywood 22 February 1934. A few months after the success of Lady for a Day, Frank Capra has continued to win over the public with It Happened one Night. His new film for Columbia is a ravishing comedy about a capricious heiress and a sensationalist journalist who starts on a cross-country journey by squabbling and end by falling head-over-heels in love with one another.
She is on the run after her marriage to a fortune-hunter was annulled by her father. She loses her money on a bus trip to New York, and he agrees to help in return for an exclusive story.
Katherine Hepburn takes home the Venice awards for Hollywood.
Venice 1 August 1934. The second Venice Film Festival has ended in a note of triumph for Katharine Hepburn, winner of the Best Actress award.
For her performance in Little Women, directed by George Cukor. Hepburn is riding the crest of a wave at the moment, having won the Best Actress Oscar last March for Morning Glory, in which she plays a stage struck girl who becomes a star. The Academy Award for Best Actor in 1933 went to Charles Laughton for his rumbustious performance as Henry VIII in Alexander Korda’s The Private Life of Henry VIII, the first British film to enjoy wide international success.
Frank Lloyd won the Best Director Oscar for the screen version of Noel Coward’s Cavalcade,(also voted the Best Picture). For Hepburn success in film has recently been accompanied by the failure of her marriage to businessman Ludlow Ogden Smith, whom she divorced on 9 May. Hepburn is the most atypical of Hollywood stars, striding through the movie capital in slacks, declining to give interviews and fleeing from autograph hunters.
Riefenstahl glorifies Nazi regime on film.
Berlin 28 March 1935. A significant cinematographic event in the form of Adolph Hitler’s commissioned Triumph of the Will, premiered today at the UFA Palast am Zoo.
Direct by Leni Riefenstahl, this enormous production has finally reached German screens after six months editing, which entailed the selection of about three percent of the material shot in order to provide a film of two hours in length. The result has proven satisfactory to the Third Reich. This impressive documentary shows the preparations, the marches and the speeches at the Nuremberg Rally, held by the Nazi party, Leni Riefenstahl has shaped the rally into a great mythic spectacle, with the Fuehrer appearing as a Wagnerian hero.
The Blond moppet delights us again.
Hollywood 19 December 1935. Shirley Temple, the bright-eyed, curly-topped, dimpled cherub, has scored another triumph in The Littlest Rebel, after The Little Colonel and Curly Top, this year. Recently President Franklin D. Roosevelt paid tribute to the talented seven-year-old. “During this Depression, when the spirit of the people is lower than at any other time, it is a splendid thing that for just 15 cents, an American can go to a movie, look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles.” The Littlest Rebel, features a different President, Abe Lincoln, on whom the tiny Shirley uses her charms to gain the release of her Southern-general father. The Little Colonel, where Shirley played Cupid to her sister, was also set during the Civil War, but Curly Top, where she sang Animal Crackers, was more up to date.
Astaire and Rogers fly on wings of dance for the sixth time
Hollywood 27 August 1936. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers have attained the summit of their terpsichorean talents with Swing Time, which marks their sixth pairing since Flying down to Rio, three years ago. More than ever have the dancing duo of RKO musicals demonstrated their virtuosity, The number “Never Gonna’ Dance” has Fred trying to win Ginger over in dance. They hold each other closely, but she achingly spins away from him and the dance ends in separation.
`Boy Wonder` of MGM dies at thirty-seven.
Los Angeles 15 September 1936. “The Boy Wonder”, of Hollywood, Irving Thalberg, has died of pneumonia. The son of German-Jewish immigrants, he suffered ill-health from childhood and had a severe heart attack towards the end
of 1932, which forced him to take off several months from MGM where he was production chief. Thalberg began his career as a humble secretary at Universal, but his exceptional qualities of judgement and organisation led to a meteoric rise.
End without glory for a fallen star.
Los Angeles 11 January 1936. John Gilbert is being buried today. He has died of a heart attack at his Hollywood home at the age of 40. After the death of Valentino Gilbert became the silent screen’s most popular leading man. The sexual electricity which crackled in his screen romances with Garbo in Love, Flesh and the Devil and A Woman of Affairs, led to a celebrated romance. Which prompted columnist Walter Winchell to coin the phrase, “Garbo-Gilberting” as shorthand for torrid affairs. Gilbert’s career was killed by the talkies, not so much because of his squeaky voice as some alleged, but because his acting style was too intense to bear the weight of words.
Hollywood 26 September 1937. This has been a good year fro producer David O. Selznick. Two years after leaving MGM to form his own independent production company, Selznick International Pictures, he has begun to fulfil his promise. Two outstanding new p]films have already opened A Star is Born, with Janey Gaynor and Frederick March, and The Prisoner of Zenda, based on the novel by Anthony Hope and with an all-star cast headed by Ronald Coleman, Douglas Fairbanks Jnr, Raymond Massey, Madeline Carroll and Mary Astor. In addition a third project, Nothing Sacred, has been finished for a November premiere. This last is from the same team as A Star is Born: director William Wellman.
A dashing, daring Errol Flynn follows in Fairbank’s footsteps.
Hollywood 12 May 1938. Already this looks like Errol Flynn’s year. Warner Bros swashbuckling star has stepped into the shoes of Douglas Fairbanks in The Adventures of Robin Hood, a high, wide and handsome story of Sherwood
Forest shot in glorious three strip Technicolor and directed with immense panache by Michael Curtiz, who took over the directors chair from William Keighley after filming began. The legendary medieval outlaw was originally supposed to be played by James Cagney, but the project was shelved after one of the feisty star’s disputes with the studio. However, after Flynn’s triumph, in the 1935 Captain Blood, it was only a matter of time before Jack Warner dusted off the property for his athletic new star. Flynn is backed up by Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian.
Luise Rainer pulls off an Oscar double.
Hollywood 10 March 1937.
Luise Rainer was content to stay at home on the evening of the tenth annual Academy awards ceremony held at the Biltmore in front of over 1,000 guests. After all, although she had been nominated for her role in The Good Earth, she had already
Won the Best Actress Oscar last year for The Great Ziegfeld. And on top of that, her rivals this time around were ,Greta Garbo (Camille), Barbara Stanwyck (Stella Dallas), Janet Gaynor (A Star is Born), and Irene Dunn(The Awful Truth).
However at 8.35p.m. The names of the winners were given to the press, and Rainer was telephoned at home and told she had won. Quickly changing into an evening dress, she dashed downtown to receive her second statuette. The evening’s other big winners was Spencer Tracy (Captains Courageous).
MacDonald and Eddy romance in triple colour
Hollywood 26 December 1938. MGM has chosen Sweethearts, for its first three-tone Technicolor picture starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, the film is based on Victor Herbert’s 1913 operetta and not only introduces the singing lovebirds in colour, but also places them into a contemporary setting for the first time. MacDonald has bright red hair and green eyes, and is dressed throughout by Adrian in pale pink shades. In the title number, the fair haired Eddy wears a bright uniform, and she is in a gold sequined gown. Of course, the stars’ voices make the film as much of a joy tot he ears as to the eyes.
The Hollywood Western comes of age with Ford’s `Stagecoach`.
Lavish treatment given to “Gone with the Wind”
Atlanta 14 December 1939. The most eagerly awaited film of the year, Gone with the Wind, has just been given its world premiere in the city where a great deal of the story unfolds. This was the culmination of the most intensively publicised production ever. It was introduced by the producer David O. Selznick, in the presence of the principal cast members and the author Margaret Mitchell who wrote the best-seller from which this super-production was adapted. The credited director, Victor Fleming, who considered himself neglected was absent.
It is true that Selznick appears to be the film’s real creator. Since June 1936, when he bought the rights to the novel for $50,00, about 15 screenwriters and four directors have been employed on it at various times. The original scenario written by Sidney Howard who, sadly died last June, was reworked by Ben Hecht and Scott Fitzgerald among others, each of them working on a different coloured script. Production began in January and ended on July 1. The first director, George Cukor, was fired scarcely two weeks into shooting after several disagreements with Clark Gable, the male lead.
Fleming worked on the film until May when he left ill and exhausted, handing on the baton to Sam Wood who completed it. As for the stars, the choice of Gable as Rhett Butler was automatic, due to a poll held among the public. Casting Scarlett O’Hara proved far more problematic. Some of the biggest female stars who wanted the role had screen tests: Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward and Loretta Young among dozens of others, as well as 1,400 unknowns. Selznick was still undecided until his brother Myron introduced him to Vivien Leigh, an English actress who had had a brilliant stage career prior to appearing in a number of British films before the war. Selzlnick immediately fell under her charm and courageously decided to cast her in the much sought-after
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