Friday, December 30, 2011


The 1950's was a decade of musicals and epics. It was also a decade where the quality of movies dropped greatly. There are some notable exceptions but overall the movies from this decade are not that great. Not only are some of the best picture winners questionable but some years the other films were just as bad if not worse. Even though I may trash the 1950's it is by far not the worst decade for movies, that will be the 1980's.

And here goes the 50's!

Films I have seen - All About Eve (Best Picture), Born Yesterday, Father of the Bride, King Solomon's Mines, Sunset Boulevard
Films I have not seen - None
Analysis - The third year where I have seen all films nominated. A very good year for movies, kind of the standout of the decade. All About Eve is a sharp, clever and enjoyable movie about the rise of a starlet. Born Yesterday is one of the funniest movies made with Judy Holliday winning a very deserving Oscar for best actress. Father of the Bride is another great light comedy with Spenser Tracy as the hapless father trying to deal with his spoiled daughter's wedding. It has a very attractive young Elizabeth Taylor and Dark Shadows favorite Joan Bennett. King Solomon's Mines is not a great movie story wise but the cinematography is amazing filmed in Africa in the late 1940's. Sunset Boulevard with "I'm ready for my close up Mr. de Mille" is a classic that everyone should see.
Verdict - This was a strong year but watching All About Eve you see how well they told the complete story. Also Comedies have a hard time winning. All About Eve earned the win, Sunset Boulevard locked into second, Born Yesterday third, Father of the Bride fourth and King Solomon's Mines last (not fifth).

Films I have seen - An American in Paris (Best Picture), Decision Before Dawn, A Place in The Sun, Quo Vadis, A Streetcar Named Desire
Films I have not seen - None
Analysis - This is the year that started this project. An American in Paris is horrible. Imagine American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance getting together and making a movie, this is what you would get. A film with popular music, great dancing scenes and the worst screenplay ever written. This movie should have been a 90 minute variety special on CBS not a film. Don't get me wrong, the songs are great, the dance sequences are the most amazing I have ever seen, Gene Kelly earned an Oscar which he rightfully deserved. But the story that binds them together has no meaning or purpose. It's like a porno that tries to put together a story to go in between the sex scenes, you laugh at them because they obviously don't fit into the scope of the movie. This is exactly the same. Decision Before Dawn is a movie about German POW's who become spies for the Allies during WWII. Does have the great Oskar Werner in it. A Place in The Sun is a great movie with Montgomery Clift and Shelly Winters acting with such intensity that their characters come through the screen. Also Elizabeth Taylor sheds her teen acting and becomes an adult actress in this film. Quo Vadis has the feel of an epic like Ben-Hur but it just falls short. Nevertheless a great film. A Streetcar Named Desire is so intense, so well acted, so well shot it is as close as you can come to a perfect film.
Verdict - The Academy really, really messed up this year. I would say the worst ever, worse than 1941, 1976 or 1994. A Streetcar Named Desire was the best picture, A Place in The Sun was a close second, Quo Vadis was third, Decision Before Dawn was fourth and An American In Paris was sixth finishing way behind 90 minutes of static.

Films I have seen - The Greatest Show On Earth (Best Picture), High Noon, Ivanhoe
Films I have not seen - Moulin Rouge, The Quiet Man
Analysis - This is the start of the era of epics. The Greatest Show On Earth is about the circus but it's more of a tribute to Cecil B. DeMille and all of his years of great movies. High Noon with Gary Cooper is one of the finest westerns ever made. Its much more than just a movie, it shows character, courage and doing what's right. A movie with such a powerful and important message. Ivanhoe is a film with nice costumes. Think 1938 Adventures of Robin Hood with jousting.
Verdict - The Academy wanted to reward Cecil B. DeMille and he won. High Noon I believe is the best of the three I've seen, but I understand why it didn't beat out The Greatest Show On Earth.

Films I have seen - From Here To Eternity (Best Picture), Julius Ceasar, The Robe, Shane
Films I have not seen - Roman Holiday
Analysis - From Here To Eternity is about the days leading up to Pearl Harbor and the attack and not just about Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster making out on the beach. Montongomery Clift and Donna Reed (in a black wig) are great, Frank Sinatra got the best supporting actor. Julius Ceasar is another film of a Shakespeare play, done as well as a play can be done as a film. Notable for having Marlon Brando as Mark Anthony and him doing better than anyone thought since only English actors star in Shakespeare. The Robe is another biblical epic about the robe Jesus wore. Shane is another great western which was remade as Pale Rider about 30 years later by Clint Eastwood.
Verdict - From Here To Eternity was the best film, a great drama and with WWII still fresh in peoples minds a natural for the Oscar. I liked Shane and would put it second, but Julius Ceasar would most likely end up there.

Films I have seen - On The Waterfront (Best Picture), The Caine Mutiny
Films I have not seen - The Country Girl, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, Three Coins in the Fountain
Analysis - On The Waterfront is one of the best movies ever made. Great acting from so many great actors and actresses, "I could have been a contender", just watch it. The Caine Mutiny showcases Humpry Bogart as Captain Queeg and is a great drama.
Verdict - On The Waterfront was the best picture of 1954. Haven't seen the other three but seeing how one is a musical and one a romantic comedy I don't see an upset.

Films I have seen - Marty (Best Picture), Mister Roberts, Picnic
Films I have not seen - Love is a Many Splendored Thing, The Rose Tatoo
Analysis - Another year where a horrible movie won best picture. Not as bad as 1951, but Marty is a bland, boring almost unwatchable movie. A butcher from the Bronx lives with his mom and is trying to meet a nice girl. How this won escapes me. Mister Roberts is a WWII Navy film that is funny. Henry Fonda, Jack Lemon and James Cagney are excellent. Picnic is a good drama based on Inge's play but casting a 67 year old William Holden to play a 25 year old was a tough stretch.
Verdict - Marty should have never been nominated. Of the three I have seen Mister Roberts was the best. Even when I see the other two, Marty will go from third to fifth.

Films I have seen - Around The World in 80 Days (Best Picture), Friendly Persuasion, Giant, The King and I, The Ten Commandants
Films I have not seen - None
Analysis - This was a rather weak year for best picture nominees. Around the World in 80 Days is an epic set in the Victorian era or Steampunk nowadays, about an English gentleman trying to, guess what, go around the world in 80 days. If the title doesn't bore you, get about six hours into it and see how you are then. Friendly Persuasion is about Quakers debating whether or not to fight in the Civil War. Giant is a good movie about oil and cattle barons in Texas but it is hard to take Rock Hudson seriously as a cowboy. The King and I another musical but at least the story does relate to the songs. The Ten Commandants about some guy named Moses or something. I have seen this movie eighteen times but never once from start to finish. I also say every year I'm going to watch it and forget and turn on about sometime after ten pm when burning hail is falling from the sky. And it always ends at 11:44 pm, what a classic.
Verdict - Not much can be said. I love The Ten Commandants but that would just be replacing one epic with another. And Giant is an epic too. So seeing how nothing really rises to the top Around The World in 80 Days, then The Ten Commandants, Giant, The King and I and finally Friendly Persuasion.

Films I have seen - The Bridge on the River Kwai (Best Picture), Peyton Place, 12 Angry Men
Films I have not seen - Sayonara, Witness for the Prosecution
Analysis - I saw The Bridge on the River Kwai many years ago but still remember it as a powerful WWII movie. The accuracy has been challenged but a group of English Army Engineers are forced to build a bridge for the Japanese Army who then have reservations about destroying at the end of the film since they did such a good job. Peyton Place is a good drama but the same old story that just because people live in a small town doesn't mean it's a utopia. 12 Angry Men is a great courtroom drama with a cast of superstars as jurors.
Verdict - This was one of the better years of the decade. The Bridge on the River Kwai is a good choice for best picture, I will be able to weigh this year better after I see the other two films.

Films I have seen - Gigi (Best Picture), Auntie Mame, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Defiant Ones
Films I have not seen - Separate Tables
Analysis - Gigi, aka the Neil Goldschmidt story, is a creep musical about a man lusting over a 14 year old girl who is being trained to be his mistress but he wants her as his wife. Auntie Mame is a funny and well done version of the play, but rather long and boring at times. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is well done, great acting but since it is the 1950's the story had to be toned down. The Defiant Ones is a good movie about a black and white prisoners who escape from jail, great acting, but not that great of a film overall.
Verdict - A weak year like 1956. Funny how 1957 was better than this, but timing is everything. Gigi is just a hard film to watch unless you've had two lobotomies or you are attracted to 14 year old girls. But seeing how none of the other films are that much better Gigi had all the great costumes and songs and creepyness (did I mention this is a creepy film?) that slides it's way to the top of the garbage heap to be the best picture of 1958.

Films I have seen - Ben-Hur (Best Picture), Anatomy of a Murder, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Nun's Story
Films I have not seen - Room at the Top
Analysis - The previous few years appear to be yoyoing. Ben-Hur is a classic epic, even with the lepers. Anatomy of a Murder is a good murder mystery and courtroom drama, but not the best. The Diary of Anne Frank does follow the book very closely, so it is just as depressing. The Nun's Story was a surprise of how well it was acted. A nun who's goal is to be a nurse in the Congo works as hard as she can to get there but finds that altruism will stand in the way of what is best for everyone.
Verdict - Ben-Hur was the best film of the year, it is a standard of what an epic should be.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


The 1940's was a decade influenced by WWII and social conscience films. Many of the best pictures fall into one of these two categories. While there are some great movies from the 1940's, I feel the decade was not as great as the 1930's. Films seemed to lose their edge, they weren't as powerful, many of them were lacking in quality.

That being said, here is what I've seen so far for the 1940's.

Films I have seen - Rebecca (Best Picture), All This, and Heaven Too, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Dictator, Kitty Foyle, The Letter, The Philadelphia Story
Films I have not seen
- Foreign Correspondent, The Long Voyage Home, Our Town
Analysis - Rebecca is the first and only Hitchcock movie to win best picture and stars Laurence Olivier. Other from that there isn't much to it. All This, and Heaven Too has Bette Davis as a school teacher in the 1800's afraid of scandal keeping her from being a teacher. Basically it was something that would cause an uproar 150 years ago, kind of silly today. The Grapes of Wrath, one of the few books that make Sylvia Plath look like Pollyanna, is made into a depressing movie. They changed the ending, or to be more correct, they ended the movie before the ending of the book, so there appears to be a happy ending to the film. The Great Dictator could have been a silent film and about 90 minutes shorter. Kitty Foyle is a great drama with Ginger Rogers that is not as shocking today since many women are single mothers, but still a good movie. The Letter is a predictable murder mystery with Bette Davis, but good acting all around. The Philadelphia Story is a classy comedy, a very funny classic.
Verdict - Of the seven films I saw, overall I would have to agree that Rebecca was the best picture compared to the others.

Films I have seen - How Green Was My Valley (Best Picture), Citizen Kane, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, The Maltese Falcon, Sergeant York, Suspicion
Films I have not seen - Blossoms in the Dust, Hold Back the Dawn, The Little Foxes, One Foot in Heaven
- This is the first and most well know mistakes made by the academy. How Green Was My Valley is a great movie about Scottish coal miners in the 1800's, real cheerful story as any story about coal miners could be. But it was based on a popular novel and was a very well done film adaption. Citizen Kane is one of the finest if not the best film ever made. Seventy years later it is still amazing to watch. Here Comes Mr. Jordan is Heaven Can Wait with a different title. Claude Rains is really good, I think one of his finest. The Maltese Falcon is a great film noir mystery that still stands the test of time. Sergeant York is based on the true story about the WWI soldier who captured an entire German regiment single handed. And has Gary Cooper whom Alvin York insisted as the only actor to play him. Suspicion is just another Hitchcock mystery.
Verdict - While How Green Was My Valley is a very good film that could have won many other years, it didn't deserve it this year. History has shown that Citizen Kane was the best film of 1941 and one of the five best of all time.

Films I have seen - Mrs. Miniver (Best Picture), 49th Parallel, Kings Row, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Pride of The Yankees, Random Harvest, Yankee Doodle Dandy
Films I have not seen - The Pied Piper, The Talk of The Town, Wake Island
- Mrs. Miniver is the first WWII film to win best picture and it was during the war. Basically a drama about how hard life is during the war. 49th Parallel another war movie with Laurence Olivier who gets killed about 45 seconds into the film as Germans try to invade Canada. Kings Row is one of the most powerful dramas you will ever see and great acting by Ronald Reagan. The Magnificent Ambersons is an Orson Wells film that seems to be not complete. It's good but feels like it was rushed or could have more work put into it. The Pride of the Yankees is about Lou Gehrig. Gary Cooper is good, rotten luck to catch a disease that has your same name, and it's about the Yankees who I hate more than any other team in the history of sports (Let's Go Mets!), but still a good movie. Random Harvest is a sappy romance film about a woman trying to find her husband with amnesia, but Greer Garson is very easy on the eyes. Yankee Doodle Dandy is the great musical, blah blah blah, you know how I feel about musicals.
Verdict - Mrs. Miniver is a good movie and is better than the rest. Random Harvest I would put second and Kings Row third, the rest lumped together in fourth and fifth place.

Films I have seen - Casablanca (Best Picture), The More The Merrier, The Ox-Bow Incident
Films I have not seen - For Whom The Bell Tolls, Heaven Can Wait, The Human Comedy, In Which We Serve, Madame Currie, The Song of Bernadette, Watch on The Rhine
- Casablanca is one of the most well know classic films of all times. The More The Merrier was a funny romantic comedy, kind of a Three's Company but in Washington DC during the early 40's. The Ox-Bow Incident is one of those dramatic westerns that is a simple film that is done well.
Verdict - I have only see three of the ten films nominated so I don't have a lot to go off of, but Casablanca will most likely not lose out to anything else I suppose. This is also the last year of ten nominees until 2009.

Films I have seen - Going My Way (Best Picture), Gaslight
Films I have not seen
- Double Indemnity, Since You Went Away, Wilson
- This is the start of a sixty five year run of only five best picture nominees. Going My Way is a happy go lucky movie about a priest with a golden touch (not that type of touch, shut up!) who solves problems everywhere he goes. It's the movie equivalent of watching a cute puppy for and hour and forty five minutes. Gaslight is a great suspense film that helped coin the phrase Gaslight or Gaslighting, a skill my wife has been working on for about seventeen years now.
Verdict - I am looking forward to seeing Double Indemnity since I have heard it is very good. I have Since You Went Away on tape so I will see it soon and couldn't care less about Wilson, the film or the President. Realizing that the country was still deeply involved with WWII I can see why Going My Way won and if you match it up to Gaslight it is a better picture. This one could change after watching the other three films though.

Films I have seen - The Lost Weekend (Best Picture), Mildred Pierce
Films I have not seen
- Anchors Aweigh, The Bells of St. Mary's, Spellbound
- This is the first year of Muckraking films to win best picture. The Lost Weekend is Ray Milland's finest acting winning him a best Oscar, better than him in the Man with X-Ray Eyes or The Thing with Two Heads. A very intense film of an alcoholic drinking and showing the real dark side of addiction. Mildred Pierce is a great Joan Crawford film that is one you have to see, don't want to reveal any spoilers if you haven't seen it yet.
Verdict - The Lost Weekend is one of the most well know films and one that is timeless. You can show this movie to someone fifty years from now and they would agree that this is a great movie.

Films I have seen - The Best Years of Our Lives (Best Picture), It's A Wonderful Life, The Yearling
Films I have not seen
- Henry V, The Razor's Edge
Analysis - The Best Years of Our Lives is a powerful drama about soldiers returning home from the war and how they are trying to settle back into normal life. It's A Wonderful Life is the Christmas staple with the great Lionel Barrymore and some other good actors. The Yearling is about a kid in the 19th century who keeps a deer for a pet even though it keeps eating their crops and destroying everything.
Verdict - WWII ended, we won (spoiler alert) and a movie like The Best Years of Our Lives was going to win, and edges out the other two I have seen.

Films I have seen - Gentleman's Agreement (Best Picture), The Bishop's Wife, Crossfire, Miracle on 34th Street
Films I have not seen
- Great Expectations
Analysis - Another year where a best picture was a drama that was a social conscience film. Somewhat dated today Gentleman's Agreement exposes anti-semitism in America by Gregory Peck changing his last name and then seeing what prejudice comes about. Even has a very young Dean Stockwell as his son. The Bishop's Wife is a simpler Going My Way and they are not Catholic (obvious from the title, right?!?!?!). Crossfire is an attempt to be a Gentleman's Agreement where a murder is committed by an anti-semite and the police finally realize that the birthmark on the neck of the guy they are questioning is really a swaskita. Not really, but you get the point half way through the movie and you will get bored by the end of the film. Miracle on 34th Street is another Christmas classic, this being the original and not the David Hartman remake.
Verdict - As soon as I can tape Great Expectations, oh wait I did but my wife deleted it "accidentally" of the DVR (Hi honey, don't kill me) I can have a complete decision. Until then Gentleman's Agreement was the better of the rest and is a good drama to see from an era of WWII guilt.

Films I have seen - Hamlet (Best Picture), Johnny Belinda, The Red Shoes, The Snake Pit, The Treasure of The Sierra Madre
Films I have not seen
- None
Analysis - This is the second year where I have seen all the nominated films. This Hamlet is the best ever with Laurence Olivier who carries the entire movie. Also when you read Hamlet and picture it in your brain, this is exactly how you expect it to look. Johnny Belinda is Lew Ayers as a Canadian doctor helping a deaf girl learn how to speak with sign language. Rather funny with characters believing that a deaf person is no smarter than a monkey even at her trial. The Red Shoes is one of the most spectacular films you will ever see. It is a musical but it has a great story that goes along with the music. It is also a bit surreal at times but that just adds to the intensity of the film. The Snake Pit is another social commentary about insane asylums, but it does have Olivia de Havilland who still looks hot even as a crazy chick. The Treasure of The Sierra Madre is a classic with the famous "We don't need no stinking badges" line. You can see how Humphrey Bogart had become a better actor over the years and this film showcases it.
Verdict - Five great films, well maybe four. Hamlet is so well done that it is overall the best picture of the group. The Red Shoes comes second, close third is The Snake Pit, a somewhat close fourth for The Treasure of The Sierra Madre, and fifth for Johnny Belinda.

Films I have seen - All The King's Men (Best Picture), Battleground, The Heiress, A Letter To Three Wives
Films I have not seen
- Twelve O'Clock High
- Another social conscience film All The King's Men which is loosely based on Huey Long, shows the rise and fall of an honest politician who is corrupted by the system. Battleground is a great WWII, one of the better ones made. It's about soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge. The Heiress has Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift in a suspenseful drama about a wealthy heiress who falls for a deadbeat. Great film and it doesn't go the way you think it would go. A Letter To Three Wives is a somewhat sappy movie about wives worrying that one of their husbands has run off with another woman that they all know but you never see during the movie. The Simpsons spoof was much better.
Verdict - I understand why All The King's Men won but I don't agree. I would say it is a toss up between Battleground and The Heiress, maybe they split the vote.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I think it is a good idea to go over what I have seen already in order to get up to speed. I'll put up a post for each decade talking about what I have seen, what I though about the film and then if the best picture was really the best picture of that year. I am going to combine the 1920's with the 1930's since there were only two years where a film received a best picture Oscar. While there are many great silent films from the tens and twenties, I may talk about that another time.

The 1930's, along with the 1970's, I consider to be the finest decade for movies, especially for best pictures. The film industry seems to have finally figured it out during the 1920's, better acting, scripts, scenery, editing and when sound was made a standard part of movies, they became great. By the mid 30's the use of sound was understood and quality was much better and by the end of the decade Hollywood was making the best pictures in the world.

So here it goes!

Films I have seen - Wings (Best Picture)
Films I have not seen - The Racket, Seventh Heaven
Analysis - Wings is the first film to win best picture. Although there was an Oscar given to Sunrise, which was a good movie about a man trying to kill his wife to run off with another woman and then goes back to her, real cheerful. But according to all lists Wings is named as the first. It's a simple story about young men going off to fight in WWI as pilots and Clara Bow as the girl next door who joins the medical corps to follow her true love. It's most notable for Gary Cooper having a small part as a pilot who crashes during a test run.
Verdict - Since I have only seen Wings I have to go with it being the best picture of 1928.

Films I have seen - Broadway Melody (Best Picture)
Film I have not seen - Alibi, The Hollywood Review of 1929, In Old Arizona, The Patriot
Analysis - Broadway Melody is the first film with sound to win best picture. It's a musical about two sisters trying to make it big in New York. I should warn you that I am not a big fan of musicals, but there is something neat about watching a movie that old.
Verdict - Again since I have only seen Broadway Melody I guess it's the best picture, although In Old Arizona will be on TCM in February and I'll then have an opportunity to compare it to the best picture winner.

Films I have seen - All Quiet On The Western Front (Best Picture), The Love Parade
Films I have not seen - The Big House, Disraeli, The Divorcee
Analysis - All Quiet On The Western Front is one of the finest novels I have ever read and the movie is no different. It follows it rather closely and even today one of the finest WWI movies and overall war movies ever made. It has a young Lew Ayres in the film, the same who played Dr. Kildare years later. The Love Parade is a mindless musical but is interesting to see Maurice Chevalier looking good, unlike the creepiness he portrayed in Gigi about thirty years later.
Verdict - From the two films I have seen it is no contest, All Quiet On The Western Front was the best picture of 1930.

Films I have seen - Cimarron (Best Picture), Skippy
Films I have not seen - East Lynee, The Front Page, Trader Horn
Analysis - Cimarron is notable for being the first western to win best picture. The western is clearly an American genre that has made thousands of movies. Yet to date only three have ever won and the next one was about sixty years later when Dances With Wolves won in 1990. The movie is not so much a western than a drama that takes place in Oklahoma during the late 19th century and works it's way up to modern times. It's well done, but it's not like a John Wayne type of western if that is what you are expecting. Skippy seemed like an extended Little Rascals episode, but fine acting by Jackie Cooper makes it enjoyable.
Verdict - Compared to each other Cimarron is a better film and deserved the Oscar.

Films I have seen - Grand Hotel (Best Picture), Arrowsmith, The Champ, Five Star Final, Shanghai Express
Films I have not seen - Bad Girl, One Hour With You, The Smiling Lieutenant
Analysis - Grand Hotel is the only film not be nominated for any other award and win best picture. It's about a bunch of people who are staying at the Grand Hotel in Berlin. Think of ER or any other TV drama, but set in a fancy hotel. What makes this movie so good is the acting. It has Lionel Barrymore who is one of my favorite actors of all time. I would watch him read the phone book, he's that good. Add to that his brother John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Berry and Gretta Garbo with her famous quote "I vant to be left alone". Arrowsmith is a good drama about a doctor trying to cure the plague in the Caribbean. The Champ, one of the most depressing movies of all time, has fine acting by Wallace Berry and Jackie Cooper. Five Star Final is one of the most intense and intriguing movies I have seen in a long time. Edward G. Robinson is amazing in this movie, even has Boris Karloff in it. Shanghai Express is a boring movie about a train going through China that has a muddled story line dealing with the different characters.
Verdict - Grand Hotel rises to the top with Five Star Final in the second spot.

Films I have seen - Cavalcade (Best Picture), 42nd Street, A Farewell To Arms, I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, Little Women, The Private Life Of Henry VIII, She Done Him Wrong
Films I have not seen - Lady For A Day, Smilin' Through, State Fair
Analysis - Cavalcade is based on the Noel Coward play about a family and their trials and tribulations for the first thirty years of the 20th Century. 42nd Street is the well known musical, but rather well done and entertaining. A Farewell To Arms does have Gary Cooper, but it is from Ernest Hemingway's book, which was horrible and made it a horrible movie. I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang is a really good movie that stands the test of time, even if the story couldn't happen today. Paul Muni, another great actor who is slowly moving up to Lionel Barrymore status in my book, is terrific. It's based on a true story and should be seen, just for Muni's acting. Little Women is from the Louise Alcott novel, which I haven't read but the film has great acting and is very well done. The Private Life of Henry VIII is just what you would expect, although rather boring, great acting by Charles Laughton who earned the best actor Oscar that year. She Done Him Wrong is a cute musical comedy with Mae West, but not much more than that. Does have the famous "Come up and see me sometime" line.
Verdict - This was the first year of serious competition. While I really enjoyed I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang and how well Little Woman was done, Cavalcade was an overall well done movie and earned the Oscar for best picture.

Films I have seen - It Happened One Night (Best Picture), The Barretts Of Wimpole Street, Flirtation Walk, Here Comes The Navy
Films I have not seen
- Cleopatra, The Gay Divorcee, The House Of Rothschild, Imitation Of Life, One Night Of Love, The Thin Man, Viva Villa!, The White Parade
- This is the first year the nominees were at twelve movies and I have only seen four of them so far. It Happened One Night was the first movie to sweep the major categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay) and it was not until forty years later when another movie would do it (1975 One Flew Over The Cockoo's Nest) and one of three overall (1991 Silence Of The Lambs). And it is a very funny movie. The Barretts Of Wimpole Street reminds you how boring and silly Victorian era life was. Flirtation Walk is an annoying musical based in Hawaii. Here Comes The Navy is one of the funniest movies I have seen in awhile. James Cagney gets into a fight with Pat O'Brien who is a Navy officer. To get back at him he joins the Navy, gets put on his ship, finds out he can't fight him then goes and starts dating his sister to get back at him. Very notable because part of the movie was filmed on the USS Arizona, yes the same one from Pearl Harbor.
Verdict - I've only seen a third of the films, but I really doubt anything will beat out It Happened One Night.

Films I have seen - Mutiny On The Bounty (Best Picture), Alice Adams, David Copperfield, The Informer, Naughty Marletta
Films I have not seen
- Broadway Melody Of 1936, Captain Blood, The Lives Of A Bengali Lancer, A Midsummer's Night Dream, Les Miserables, Ruggles Of Red Gap, Top Hat
Analysis - This is the second and last year of twelve nominees, I've seen almost half of them. Mutiny On The Bounty is a great film with great acting and fascinating story. While it is not historically accurate, it's just a really good movie. Alice Adams is an annoying obnoxious film about a young woman trying to become popular. Heavy use of altruism makes this one very hard to watch. David Copperfield is as well as you can do a Dickens novel as a movie but does have Lionel Barrymore in it. The Informer I found to be slow and muddled, but it did win best director for John Ford. Naughty Marletta is an annoying musical that seems to have no plot but lots of happy musical numbers and dancing.
Verdict - Of what I have seen, Mutiny On The Bounty is the best film of 1935 and I don't think the others I haven't seen yet will change my decision.

Films I have seen - The Great Ziegfield (Best Picture), Anthony Adverse, Dodsworth, Romeo And Juliet, San Francisco, The Story Of Louis Pasteur, A Tale Of Two Cities
Films I have not seen
- Libeled Lady, Mr. Deed Goes To Town, Three Smart Girls
Analysis - This is a year where there were so many good films. The Great Ziegfield covers the life of Florenz Ziegfield, a massive fluff piece, but that is what was expected back then. William Powell does a great job in this one. Anthony Adverse staring Fredrick March and the beautiful Olivia de Havilland, an orphan in the late 1700's makes a name for himself selling slaves in Africa, has a change of heart and goes back to Italy to try and find his true love. Dodsworth is a very powerful drama about divorce, very entertaining movie to watch. Romeo And Juliet was done well and probably the best adaption of Shakespeare's play. San Francisco shows the famous 1906 earthquake and the well known song telling it to "open up your golden gate". The Story Of Louis Pasteur staring Paul Muni is enjoyable from start to finish, you just don't want the movie to end. A Tale Of Two Cities was done well because it didn't drag on like most adaptions of Dickens novels.
Verdict - One factor that is involved with the Oscars is the opinions and moods of the voters. Not always are votes made on the quality of the film but on emotion. I did not live during this period so I can only imagine that Ziegfield being so popular during the early 20th century and recently dying, this film winning the Oscar. My opinion is that The Story Of Louis Pasteur was the best film, but at least Paul Muni did win the best actor Oscar.

Films I have seen - The Life Of Emile Zola (Best Picture), The Awful Truth, Captain Courageous, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, Stage Door
Films I have not seen
- Dead End, Lost Horizon, One Hundred Men And A Girl, A Star Is Born
- As the decade moved on the films kept getting better and better. The Life Of Emile Zola feels like France in the 1800's and Paul Muni makes this film great. The Awful Truth is a funny romantic comedy with Cary Grant. Captain Courageous has the great Lionel Barrymore and an all star cast dealing with an spoiled brat they save after he falls off a ship and turn him into a nice kid. The Good Earth once again with Paul Muni makes this worth watching. In Old Chicago talks about the 1871 Chicago fire from Mrs. O'Leary's cow, but is not factually correct except that there was a fire. Stage Door is a funny comedy about women vying to become Broadway stars.
Verdict - The Oscars got it right this year, The Life Of Emile Zola was just better than the rest.

Films I have seen - You Can't Take It With You (Best Picture), The Adventures Of Robin Hood, Boys Town, Four Daughters, Grand Illusion, Jezebel, Pygmalion
Films I have not seen
- Alexander's Ragtime Band, The Citadel, Test Pilot
Analysis - You Can't Take It With You is one of the finest movies ever made. Lionel Barrymore is so great in this movie. Watch it and he will become your favorite actor too. The Adventures Of Robin Hood in it's old 1930's color is fun to watch and was done in a time when it was cool to be campy. Boys Town is that sappy movie that is so well done you can't hate it no matter how hard you try. Four Daughters is a film I thought I won't enjoy, a story about four sisters who's father is a band teacher. But it is really good. Grand Illusion was the first foreign film to be nominated for a best picture. This lost gem is so good, so amazing, you won't believe how great it is. Shawshank Redemption great. Make sure you see it sometime in your life. Its a real simple story of French POW's during WWI trying to escape from a prison camp. When it ends you will say I can't believe how good this movie was and why haven't I ever seen this before. Jezebel has the great Bette Davis as the infamous southern belle. Pygmalion is My Fair Lady without all the songs, so it's about seven hours shorter.
Verdict - You Can't Take It With You is the best movie of the year, probably the decade with Grand Illusion as a very close second.

Films I have seen - Gone With The Wind (Best Picture), Dark Victory, Goodby Mr. Chips, Love Affair, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Ninotchka, Of Mice And Men, Stagecoach, The Wizard Of Oz, Wuthering Heights
Films I have not seen
- None
Analysis - This is the first year where I have seen all the films nominated for best picture. This is known as the finest year for movies and it is so true. All ten of these movies could have won, well maybe seven of them, but put them up in a different year and any of them could win. Gone With The Wind is the epic Civil War film of all time. Dark Victory is Bette Davis fighting going blind, great acting. Goodby Mr. Chips a fantastic film that earned Robert Donat the best actor Oscar. Love Affair is a sappy love story, kind of a Sleepless In Seattle type, but just well done. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington is the American classic that still today holds true, Washington DC sucks. Ninotchka is a funny film about Soviets trying to sell diamonds to save the Russian economy. Very funny in how it shows the hypocrisy of communism, which sucks more than Washington DC, much more. Of Mice And Men is the simple drama that is acted well and done perfectly. Stagecoach with John Wayne is the first classic western to be nominated and deservedly so. The Wizard Of Oz is a favorite even today of everyone. Wuthering Heights is carried by Laurence Olivier who was one of the finest actors of all time.
Verdict - Like I said, this is one of the finest years where any of these films could have won. I will have to agree with the voters and go with Gone With The Wind. To do otherwise would just be a never ending debate of what could have won.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What is this Blog about?

I am on a mission to try and see every movie that has won and been nominated for best picture. Currently there are 485 films out there from 1928 to 2010. I have been working on this project for a few years now, but as I close in on the 350 film mark (currently at 347 as I type this post), I decided to talk about it on the Internet.

I know this may not sound interesting, especially if you don't enjoy watching movies or don't understand why I am doing this. If you feel this way I would suggest not reading any of the posts. If you are intrigued or think this is an interesting project, please allow me to take you on a trip down my movie watching past.

I've always enjoyed movies, who doesn't. Yet I am peculiar when it comes to movies. I enjoy the greatest movies ever made and the worst. It's feast or famine. Movies that fall in the middle don't interest or excite me. But a great movie like Citizen Kane or Shawshank Redemption or Grand Illusion I can't watch enough of. The same is for low budget, underground, really bad movies. The type that look like they were filmed in someones backyard, bad acting, horrible plot lines and look like they ran down to the Fotomat to get the film processed. So its either filet mignon or pork rinds, no baked chicken with steamed vegetable for me.

Years ago I memorized all the movies that won best picture. Why? Because I have nothing better to do with my time. A few years ago I got the greatest combination for entertainment, probably the greatest combo in life, a DVR with my satellite TV. I started to record movies, mainly at the time it was an escape dealing with a lot of stress and trouble in my life. So coming home and watching a movie helped me relax and to be honest, a better vice than drinking.

I started to realize that over the years I had seen many of the films that won best picture. I decided to go all out in early 2009 and see every film that won. At the time there were 81 movies and I had seen about half of them. Searching through the satellite schedule, I would only tape movies that were shown on TV. I could rent the movies from a video store but that doesn't make it as exciting. To me its more fun to search and try and find the movies as they randomly pop up on TV.

By early 2011 I realized two things, first that I was already over the 70 film mark for best pictures and secondly, not every best picture I believe was the best picture. This current project started in late 2009 when I saw An American in Paris, best picture for 1951. I thought that this is the worst best picture ever made (currently I still stand by this assertion) and what did it beat out? I looked up the other four movies and looked for them. About a year later I saw the other four and was able to confirm my opinion.

I realized that this would be an interesting way to make a personal judgement of each year's nominees. I set up a detailed spreadsheet with all the movies nominated separated by year and began to mark off as I watched each one. This project has grown to start including best foreign film and I am starting to prepare the next phase, best director.

So as I watch these movies I want an opportunity to discuss what I think about each film and how they compare to the other movies they were competing against. My wife is not a big movie fan, neither are my family or friends to the level that I watch movies. This is why I have started this blog, that and I miss blogging. I wrote one with my wife about free market environmentalism for years but that one has not been updated much lately. I haven't had the interest even though I still consider myself an environmentalist but I feel that I have done all that I could for now with that blog. This one is more interesting to me. Even if no one reads it, I enjoy analysing movies and offering my opinions.

I will start with a summary of what I have watched so far over the next few posts. Eventually I will post after I watch each movie and offer my review. Hopefully it may help people who do read this watch more movies, even the ones I don't like because maybe they could tell me why they think it was good. I'm looking forward to this, I hope you are too.