Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Academy Awards 1932-1933

Now that Academy Award season is approaching I'll be continuing my Oscar series where I left off earlier this year. So if you're ready let's take a look at the Academy Award winners, nominees and snubs for 1932-33.


Winner: Cavalcade, Nominees: A Farewell to Arms, 42nd Street, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, Lady for a Day, Little Women, The Private Life of Henry the VIII, She Done Him Wrong, Smilin Through, State Fair


Winner: Charles Laughton in The Private Life of Henry the VIII, Nominees: Leslie Howard in Berkeley Square, Paul Muni in I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang


Winner: Katherine Hepburn in Morning Glory, Nominees: May Robson in Lady for a Day, Diana Wynyard in Cavalcade


Winner: Frank Lloyd for Cavalcade, Nominees: Frank Capra for Lady for a Day, George Cukor for Little Women


Alexander Korda for Directing The Private Life of Henry VIII
Ernst Lubitsch for Directing Trouble in Paradise
Ann Harding for her performance in The Animal Kingdom *un-nominated
Barbara Stanwyck for her role in Baby Face
Warner Baxter for his performance in 42nd Street
Fredric March for his performance in The Eagle and the Hawk
Mae West for her performance as Diamond Lil in She Done Him Wrong
The Marx Bro's for their screenplay Duck Soup
Laurel and Hardy for Son of the Desert
Helen Hayes and Gary Cooper for A Farewell to Arms
Greta Garbo for her performance in Queen Christina


Gold Diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bitter Tea of General Yen, Dinner at Eight, Duck Soup, King Kong, Queen Christina and Red Dust.

My Honorable Mentions go to:

The highly entertaining screenplay by the Marx Bro's, Duck Soup

Helen Hayes for her performance in A Farewell to Arms

and Claude Rains for his chilling performance in H.G. Wells, The Invisible Man


There was no award ceremony in 1933. The Oscars for 1932-33 were presented in March, 1934 at the Ambassador Hotel (A full 17 month period) This would be the last time the Academy voted on films over one full calendar year. Going forward the Awards would be voted on and given out annually.

Although a young 24 yr old Katherine Hepburn won her first Oscar for her performance in Morning Glory playing stage struck Eva Lovelace, it was an unpopular choice at the time. However, this would be the film that launched her very successful career, prompting eight more nominations and losses before winning her second Oscar 30 years later for her performance in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1967.  Her two most shocking losses were for her performances in The African Queen and The Philadelphia Story.

Charles Laughton won his Best Actor Oscar for his first nomination, also the first British Actor to win an Oscar in a Foreign/British film. It would also be the first non-Hollywood (Foreign) film to be nominated for Best Picture. The part of Ann of Cleves was played by Laughton's real life wife, Elsa Lancaster. The character King Henry VIII has also been recognized by the Academy more than any other historical/literary figure. Robert Shaw was nominated for playing King Henry the VIII for A Man for all Seasons in 1966 then Richard Burton was nominated for playing the same character for Anne of the Thousand Days in 1966.

Let's dish about Cavalcade for a moment. A look at British life over 30 years, it was over produced and ranks among other Best Picture winners as easily forgotten. The adapted screenplay by noted playwright, Noel Coward, with it's all British cast giving us a glimpse into the lives of well-to-do Londoner's and the affects on their lives during Wartime, the loss of a son on the Titanic and the death of Queen Victoria. The lead roles being played by Diana Wynyard and Clive Brooks. Diana Wynyard, primarily a British stage actress, made her film debut just one year before, starring in Rasputin and the Empress 1932 (Rasputin is best known as the only film to feature all three of the Barrymore siblings).  Frank Lloyd won for Best Director and it would be his last win of two. He also won the Best Director Oscar for "The Divine Lady in 1929.  The film had major box office success and was re-leased in 1935 after it's three Oscar wins. It also won for Best Art Direction/Decoration and it was nominated for a fourth.  (I'm curious to see what everyone else thought of this film)

Frank Capra's comedy, Lady for a Day was nominated for four Oscars but garnered no wins. During the Academy Award ceremony it did cause embarrassment for Frank Capra when emcee, Will Rogers yelled out "Come up and get it Frank", prompting Capra to leap to his feet and run towards the stage only to discover the award actually went to Frank Lloyd.

George Cukor's adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women was nominated for three awards and won only one, Best Adaptation. None of the leads were nominated which seems a bit odd looking back at the wonderful performances by Joan Bennett, Paul Lukas and Edna May Oliver. Perhaps since Kate Hepburn gave such a great performance in the lead as Jo, her win was an accumulation of her four performances on screen during that 17 months.  She would also appear in two other films during that time, the first being her film debut in 1932, A Bill of Divorcement starring the great John Barrymore and the equally talented Billie Burke.

Walt Disney would win his second consecutive Academy Award in the Technical Short Subject category for the cartoon, The Three Little Pigs. The cartoon that would bring us the very popular song Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf.  When Walt took the stage to give his acceptance speech he referred to the award as 'Oscar' for the very first time but the Academy wouldn't officially refer to the statuette as Oscar until 1939.

The category "Special Visual Effects" had not been introduced yet which would most likely have garnered King Kong at least one award. I'll give it an honorable mention here for it's groundbreaking special effects, changing the way films were made going forward.

An honorable mention to King Kong for it's groundbreaking special effects.

I hope you enjoyed my look back at the Academy Awards for 1932-1933. I'll be continuing the series up until the award ceremony in 2012 so stay tuned.  Please enjoy the clip below of all of the 1932-1933 Award Winners. And please comment on what you think of the snubs, my choices as well as letting us know your own opinion about who won and whether your favorite was left out.


All posters are from the Movie Poster Database which can be located HERE.


  1. I enjoyed your interesting post -- lots of fascinating information! I was crushed the last time I missed taping Cavalcade off of TCM, but now I don't feel so bad, LOL. I'll be back for more -- Oscar season is the best!

  2. It's so interesting that Calvacade won Best Picture that year. Academy voters must have been really impressed and/or already familiar with the play.

  3. And now I have "I'm Henery the Eighth I Am" stuck in my head. :-p

    So where do you stand on the ten Best Pic nominees versus five Best Pic nominees debate? The late 30s and early 40's, after all, were the time of the ten-film field.

  4. ShadowandStain,
    I'm glad you enjoyed this article. I have the first 5 Award ceremony's in the archives if you get the time to take a look. : )
    Cavalcade is a good film with good performances and Noel Coward certainly deserves kudos for his adaptation. It is worth seeing the next time it airs if only to add another Oscar winner to your list.

    I did like The Private Lives of Henry the VIII more but perhaps it's because I couldn't relate to the characters in Calvalcade even though it's a good film. At least it's not as bad as the 1930-31 winner Cimarron. Ha Ha

    I can picture you saying that over and over. Here "It's only a paper moon, hanging over a cardboard sea", now try to get that out of your head! : )
    The 10 films per year during that time is an odd choice only because so many great performances were snubbed by only have 3 or 4 in the Best Actor/Actress category.

    Thanks for commenting on my Oscar series everyone,

  5. Great post. I have not seen Cavalcade . Got to add it to my long list!

    I love that you list Fredric March as an Oscar snub for The Eagle and the Hawk. I think he is great in everything, but his performance in Hawk is incredible. Highly underrated performance and film.

  6. Jill,
    I think along with Cimarron, Cavalcade just might be one of the top 5 films that film buffs haven't seen.

    I'm glad you noticed Fredric's 'snub'. I don't understand just nominating 3 stars for Best Actor/Actress. I bet the studios, acting community were up in arms over that rule. I'm glad it changed in just a few years.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope you'll return often. : )


    Gold Diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bitter Tea of General Yen, Dinner at Eight, King Kong, Queen Christina and Red Dust.

    Also, all my favs! The Bitter Tea of General Yen, is a beautiful "must see" movie.

  8. I hadn't seen Cavalcade in over 35 years until the recent TCM screening, but did not recall it fondly. As a teenage classic movie fan I found the film dull to the point of tedium. However, I would have seen it late on a school night on commercial television so decided to give it another chance. I still found the pace to be oddly slow for such a vignette-filled film and felt a certain detachment from the characters. However, the make-up and costumes were top-notch, as were the thrilling crowd scenes. I was particularly impressed with the montages, especially for WWI which was extremely effective and quite moving. It may have helped that I was more familiar with some of the cast this time around and enjoyed Una O'Connor and Herbert Mundin in one of their seven film appearances together and their David Copperfield co-star Frank Lawton, Warner's leading lady Margaret Lindsay, Night Must Fall's Merle Tottenham, The Lost Patrol's Douglas Walton and the adorably young Bonita Granville (Nancy Drew). I'm glad I took the time to re-watch the undeservedly much-maligned Cavalcade.

    I am a huge Katharine Hepburn fan and find it interesting that hers was not a popular win that year. I will never stop believing that there must have been an accounting error and the award truly belongs to May Robson.

  9. Page, thanks for bringing up all these wins, snubs, and should have been snubs. "Lady for a Day" is one of my favorites, and I agree with Caftan Woman that May Robson should have won that year. I'm a big fan of Katharine too and think that some of her other performances, like Philadelphia Story should have won her Best Actress Awards. King Kong was a hugely influential film, and its sound effects too would have deserved an award had the category existed then.

    Christian (Silver Screen Modiste)

  10. CW,
    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on Cavalcade. Unfortunately I haven't seen Lady for a Day so I can't compare May and Kate's performances.

    It is a shame that King Kong lost out. As I said to CW, I haven't seen Lady for a Day but perhaps I'll have the opportunity soon.
    Always good to see you here!

  11. Hi Page!
    Great post!
    Greta Garbo, Claude Rains and Katherine Hepburn are my favorite artists. Good times of Old Hollywood!

  12. I always think of Charles Laughton winning his Oscar playing Captain Bligh, but of course, it was his Henry VIII that he won the award.

    Interesing that in "Mutiny on the Bounty" Laughton, Gable and Franchot Tone were all nominated for Best Actor. Talk about cancelling out each other's vote!

    Wonderful post, Page.

  13. Page, I very much enjoyed your -- dare I say it? -- cavalcade of 1932-1933 Oscar nominees and winners! Nice to see many character actors among the clips, including one of Team Bartilucci's favorites, Una O'Connor! I must say I'm more amazed at who DIDN'T win! Personally, I think all these awards people start doling out at this time of year are hard to keep track of. I think everyone in each cast should just get ensemble Oscars, kinda like they do with the Screen Actors Guild Awards! :-) Great post, Page; looking forward to more!

  14. Hi Page - ah yes, another chance to snub Garbo. Idiots! As a forever fan of the PBS series "Upstairs Downstairs," I have a soft spot for Cavalcade. In fact, watching it for the first time after seeing the great TV series, I had the sense that this story was oddly familiar.... I think the effects of WWI still resonated deeply with audiences in 1932-33. As always, a highly entertaining post!

  15. Hi Rubi,
    Glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for sharing your favorite stars with us.

    I agree with the shame of all of the stars cancelling one another out on the Mutiny noms. Laughton was great in everything.

    Always enjoy your comments. 32-33 really was the year of the 'snubs' being a pretty hot list of some great performances, films. Looking forward to seeing if the Oscars of 33 were a repeat.

    I haven't seen the series Upstairs Downstairs but it sounds interesting. Garbo got snubbed a lot, right up there with dear Chaplin who I feel so saddened about, especially his being railroaded right out of America.

    Thanks for all of your comments and interest in this series. I do love Oscar season! : )

  16. I finally got my Google problem fixed, so I can leave a comment! Excellent article, Page! I learned a lot of things I never knew about in 32-33. I've never seen Cavalcade (although it sounds good according to your description), so I can't say it should not have won. But I am amazed at the list of snubs. All were truly great movies! I think Laughton was an obvious choice for best actor, but I don't think Hepburn's performance rated an Oscar. I guess given the short list of nominees, I would have picked May Robson. However, although not nominated (hard to believe!), I would have chosen either Helen Hayes in Farewell to Arms or Barbara Stanwyck in Bitter Tea of General Yen, a favorite of mine. Nils Asther should have been nominated for best actor, too!
    Entertaining, informative, and fabulous pics and clips - I look forward to your series!

  17. Becks,
    So glad to have you back! You've been missed around here. (check your email)
    I agree that the snub list for 32-33 than the actual winners. Having just three nominees in the Best Actor/Actress category seems foolish. I would loved to have been listening in on phone lines after that ceremony. Sure there was a lot of whining and yelling going on.

    So glad you agree about Helen Hayes. Glad you are back for the continuation of this series. It's fun to do.