It's time for another look back at the early Oscars so grab your popcorn and get comfy as we discuss the winners and the losers for the 1931-1932 ceremony.
Grand Hotel (Winner), Arrowsmith, The Champ, Bad Girl, Five Star Final, One Hour With You, Shanghai Express, The Smiling Lieutenant
Greta Garbo checking in to the "Grand Hotel"
Fredric March in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (Winner, tie), Wallace Beery in "The Champ" (Winner, tie), Alfred Lunt in "The Guardsman"
Fredric March in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
Fredric March receiving his Oscar from Academy president Conrad Nagel
Wallace Beery with Jackie Cooper in "The Champ"
Wallace Beery, Conrad Nagel and Fredric March at the ceremony held at the Ambassador Hotel
Helen Hayes in "The Sin of Madelon Claudet" (Winner), Marie Dressler in "Emma", Lynne Fontanne in "The Guardsman"
Helen Hayes in "The Sin of Madelon Claudet"
Helen Hayes receiving her Oscar from Louis B. Mayer
Frank Borzage for "Bad Girl" (Winner), King Vidor for "The Champ", Josef von Sternberg for "Shanghai Express"
Sally Eilers with James Dunn in "Bad Girls"
*A special Academy Award went to Walt Disney that year for his creation of Mickey Mouse. Mickey was four years old at the time. He had made his film debut in "Steamboat Willie" in 1928.
Walt Disney and his brother Roy with Oscar and the icon himself, Mickey Mouse
Walt Disney with his wife Lillian after receiving his Oscar during the ceremony (She seems so happy)!
Academy Awards 1931-1932 Fun Facts:
This was the first year that there was a tie in any category. It would also be Wallace Beery's last nomination and only win. (Theres been a few ceremonies through the years where I wish there had been a tie or well, a different winner all together but I'm sure I'm not alone on that)
With Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde being nominated for three Academy Awards it would be the only time an Oscar would be awarded to anyone in a 'horror' role until Anthony Hopkins won for "Silence of the Lambs" almost 60 years later. (It really is a shame that Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi were all snubbed throughout their careers for their roles that paved the way for their genre and the characters we see today).
After Wallace Beery won an Oscar for his role in "The Champ" which was also nominated for Best Picture, it would be another 75 years until another actor/actress would win a Best Actor statue while the film was also nominated. Helen Mirren won for "The Queen" in 2006
All three of the Best Actress nominees were from MGM studios that year.
Best Actress winner Helen Hayes also gave a stand out performance in the years Best Picture nominee "Arrowsmith". Most felt it was a much better performance than her acting in "The Sin of Madelon Claudet" where she played a self-sacrificing mother who turns to prostitution and thievery in order to send her ill-legitimate son to medical school. Helen Hayes would win her second Oscar 38 years later (Best Supporting Actress) for her role in "Airport" 1970
Lynn Fontanne and her husband Alfred Lunt were the first married stars to be nominated for Oscars the same year.
Laurel and Hardy won an Academy Award for their comedy short "The Music Box". This would be their only Oscar during their careers.
Irving Thalberg wanted his wife Norma Shearer to play the role of Flaemmchen which went to Joan Crawford. Shearer turned it down due to fan mail discouraging her from taking the part.
There is not one scene in "Grand Hotel" where Garbo and Crawford are on screen together. This was done to prevent the two actresses from upstaging one another. Actually, the large ensemble cast never all appeared together on screen.
Joan Crawford was so irked that Greta Garbo received top billing in "Grand Hotel" that she exacted her revenge during filming. Knowing that Garbo despised tardiness and Marlene Dietrich, Crawford played Dietrich's record between shots and arrived late to set. (I'm sure director Edmund Goulding got a few grey hairs during filming with those two ego's around).
Wallace Beery originally turned down his part in "Grand Hotel" but later accepted it when it was agreed that he would be the only actor using a German accent in the film.
"Grand Hotel" was one of the highest grossing films in MGM's history. Casting 5 of it's top tier stars and grossing over $1.2 million at the box office.
Charlie Chaplin and his last film playing 'the Tramp' in "City Lights". The Academy had developed a prejudice for silent films up against talkies. Of course the film was remastered with Chaplin adding a soundtrack to the silent film before re-releasing it.
Marlene Dietrich for her portrayal of Shanghai Lily in Joseph von Sternberg's masterpiece.
The two main characters in James Whales "Frankenstein". Colin Clive for his role as Dr. Frankenstein and Boris Karloff for his unmistakably brilliant portrayal of Frankenstein were completely ignored.
Joan Crawford for her role in "Grand Hotel" and Miriam Hopkins for her role in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" as well as her role in "The Smiling Lieutenant". It's also been said that Norma Shearer should have been nominated for her role in "Private Lives" as well as Barbara Stanwyck for "The Miracle Woman" that year.
John Barrymore was asked to play the lead in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" but turned it down. He had played the part previously in the 1920 silent version.
The correct pronunciation of Jekyll is Jee-kall! The character's appearance was based on a Neanderthal man.
My Honorable Mentions:
Charlie Chaplin and "City Lights"
Marlene Dietrich for "Shanghai Express"
Charlie Chaplin with Virginia Cherrill in his Masterpiece "City Lights"
Marlene Dietrich in "Shanghai Express"
Thanks for joining me for another look back at the Oscars and please share your opinions or any thing I may have missed. Please enjoy the trailer for Best Picture winner "Grand Hotel" below.
Oh, and on a side note I had the pleasure of writing an article for the movie site Mombo.com this week. Heres the article for those interested http://www.mombo.com/company/featured_bloggers titled Please Don't Forget About Charlie Chaplin. They're also looking for feature guest writers for all of my creative friends who just don't have enough to do.