Monday, January 9, 2012

The Academy Awards: 1936

I'm back to continue counting down the Academy Awards and this week we'll be looking at the Oscars for 1936, the first year that the Supporting Actor category was introduced.  If you're ready, let's discuss the winners, nominees and the snubs.

Winner: The Great Ziegfeld, Nominees: Anthony Adverse, Dodsworth, Libeled Lady, Mr. Deed Goes to Town, Romeo and Juliet, San Francisco, The Story of Louis Pasteur, A Tale of Two Cities, Three Smart Girls

Winner: Paul Muni in "The Story of Louis Pasteur", Nominees: Gary Cooper in "Mr. Deed Goes to Town", Walter Huston in "Dodsworth", William Powell in "My Man Godfrey", Spencer Tracy in "San Francisco"

Best Picture Winner, Paul Muni

Winner: Luise Rainer in "The Great Ziegfeld", Nominees: Irene Dunne in "Theodora Goes Wild", Gladys George in "Valiant is the Word for Carrie", Carole Lombard in "My Man Godfrey", Norma Shearer in "Romeo and Juliet"

Best Actress Winner, Luise Rainer

Winner: Walter Brennan in "Come and Get It", Mischa Auer in "My Man Godfrey", Stuart Erwin in "Pigskin Parade", Basil Rathbone in "Romeo and Juliet", Akim Tamiroff in "The General Died at Dawn"

Supporting Actor Winner, Walter Brennan

Winner: Gale Sondergaard in "Anthony Adverse", Beulah Bondi in "The Gorgeous Hussy", Alice Brady in My Man Godfrey", Bonita Granville in "These Three", Maria Ouspenskaya in "Dodsworth"

Supporting Actress Winner, Gale Sondergaard

Winner: Frank Capra for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town", Nominees: Gregory La Cava for "My Man Godfrey", Robert Z. Leonard for "The Great Ziegfeld", W.S. Van Dyke for "San Francisco"

Best Director Winner, Frank Capra

My Man Godfrey not being nominated for Best Picture
Modern Times (Chaplin's last silent film) should have been nominated for Best Picture, Best Director AND Best Actor 
Swing Time should have garnered Best Actress/Actor nods for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. 
Fury for not getting a Best Picture nod or Best Director nod for Fritz Lang
The Charge of the Light Brigade should have given David Niven a Best Supporting Actor nod and Michael Curtiz a Best Director nod
Suzy, once again Franchot Tone and Jean Harlow were snubbed
Clark Gable and Jeannette MacDonald were snubbed for San Francisco and Spencer Tracy should have been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Jean Arthur for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

My Honorable Mentions:

The cast and director of The Charge of the Light Brigade

Modern Times was completely ignored

Fury for not recognizing director Fritz Lang or Spencer Tracy, Sylvia Sidney and Bruce Cabot

Let me get something out of the way real quick. I don't think it's a secret that I adore Charlie Chaplin and I've expressed many times here on my blog and especially during my Oscar series that I'm distraught over his snubs and unfair treatment in Hollywood.  But to completely ignore his last and stellar silent film. Modern Times is a disgrace!  It's hard to put it into words how deeply this saddens me.  He deserved so much more and he should have been admired for keeping his integrity, continuing with his craft long after sound was introduced and silents were a thing of the past.  Sure, he was righted a wrong years later when he received his honorary Oscar but it was over 30 years too late.  It's really hard to talk about it without getting choked up so we'll move along.

The Academy Awards was held at the Biltmore Hotel on March 4th, 1937 and hosted by George Jessel.

My Man Godfrey was the first film to receive all four acting nominations but not a Best Picture nod and no wins. Libeled Lady took it's place in the Best Picture category.  I have to admit that I love biopics but The Great Ziegfeld isn't one of them! I could barely get through it and I really like the stars. 

This was the first year that the Best Supporting Actor/Actress category was introduced. A category that remains today.

Bonita Granville was the first child to be nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category.

Walt Disney received his fifth consecutive Oscar in the Best Animated Short Film category for Country Cousin

Jean Harlow passed away just three months after the Academy Award ceremony in 1937, her last chance to receive an Oscar for her performance in Suzy or Libeled Lady (failed to receive a nomination) . She was only 26 at the time of her death.  Sadly, Carole Lombard would not win for her performance in My Man Godfrey as it would be her only Academy Award nomination as she also passed too soon in 1942 at the age of 33.

During the Academy Awards and long after, there was shock and disappointment that My Man Godfrey or Dodsworth did not win Best Picture over The Great Ziegfeld.  Perhaps the mentality hasn't changed much since we know that biopics, dramas or epics rule the day and comedies are just not considered Oscar worthy.  

Swing Time did win for Best Song, The Way You Look Tonight then it received a nod for Best Dance Direction but it lost out to The Great Ziegfeld.  Busby Berkeley was also nominated for Gold Diggers of 1937.

Gale Sondergaard won in the Best Supporting Actress category in her film debut. This would be the first time and not repeated again for another 10 years when Harold Russell won for his performance in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).

Irene Dunne lost out to Luise Rainer for Best Actress, something she would become very familiar with as this would be her second nod out of five nominations and no wins.  Her role as Theodora Lynn was her first comedic role nod.  

Five of the Best Picture nominations were MGM films. Their picture The Great Ziegfeld would take home the statuette.  The film with it's elaborate dance direction and twenty three songs was nominated for a whopping seven nominations with three wins. It was MGM's most costly biopic to date with a budget of 2 million.

San Francisco received five nominations and one win for Best Sound Recording. It would garner Spencer Tracy his first of three consecutive Academy Award nominations.

MGM Producer, Irving Thalberg passed away suddenly from pneumonia at the end of 1936 at the age of 37.  He had been collaborating with his wife, Norma Shearer for her Oscar nominated role, Romeo and Juliet as well as just finishing up San Francisco which he had pushed to get made as well as Mutiny on the Bounty the previous year.  Irving, not one to want credit for his work would not be credited on screen until the 1937 film, The Good Earth then again for Goodbye Mr. Chips in 1939 with a special dedication at the beginning of the film.  A film that he had set in motion but didn't live to see.  He had also been working on pre-production for A Day at the Races and Marie Antoinette (another vehicle for his wife Norma) at the time of his death.  

Thank You for joining me for another look back at the Oscars and please let me know what you think of the winners and nominees for 1936.  Below is a quick montage of the Award winners that I hope you'll take the time to enjoy.  



  1. Who am I to second guess the Oscar voters of 1936? However, "The Great Ziegfeld" winning over "Dodsworth" and/or "Libeled Lady" makes me grind my teeth.

    What really sends me over the edge is the Best Supporting Actress category! I don't deny Gale Sondergaard's talent, but in "Anthony Adverse" all she did was bare her teeth and glare. Beulah Bondi would get my vote for absolutely stealing "The Gorgeous Hussy" from a power house cast. I'd be happy as well if Alice Brady's note perfect comedy performance in "My Man Godfrey" had been honoured or Bonita Granville as the hateful Mary in "These Three" or Maria Ouspenskaya as the tower of aristocracy in "Dodsworth". It's not that I don't love her, but anybody but Sondergaard in 1936.

    My snub of the year goes to former Oscar winner Warner Baxter in "The Prisoner of Shark Island". It's a moving, naturalistic performance of great depth.

  2. My theory about the Chaplin Oscar saga is that he was punished for not conforming. There's a reason the Academy Awards started at the same time as talkies, but he wouldn't play the game and so he was viewed as an outcast. A shame, because he was more talented than most of the people who won Oscars.

  3. Just love the montage. So lovely to see Olivia de Havilland in so many of the clips. :)

  4. Thanks for your continuing series on the Oscars wins and snubs of the Golden Age. I loved the costumes, sets and music for Great Ziegfeld, but it certainly wasn't a great a movie as were several of the other nominees. Can't get better than Dodsworth or My Man Godfrey in that year. Thanks for speaking up for Chaplin. We forget now that he was considered the most well known man on earth in his prime, but also smeared for his serial mariages to teenage women. His legacy is profound, Oscar or no.

  5. I wish that both.. Jean Harlow and Carole Lombard, would have won an Oscar, before their passing.

  6. I always become irritated as I read about Oscars that were won...and not won! "The Great Ziegfeld" is, I'm sorry, an overblown turkey. I won't rave on about how much better "Dodsworth" and "My Man Godfrey" were and how much more either/both (a tie!) deserved the statuette. Really, I won't...

    And I won't complain about the fact that Irene Dunne, who could act circles around most and was the best co-star Cary Grant ever had, never won a Best Actress Oscar - though nominated five (count 'em) times.

    But before I lose it completely I should say that I haven't watched the Academy Awards for years. Much as I like to see who's wearing what, the awards so rarely seem to reflect much more than Hollywood politics.

    But I enjoyed your post, Page!

  7. @CaftanWoman,
    I started watching Anthony Adverse last night on TCM and I couldn't stop thinking about what you said about her 'baring her teeth and glaring' every time she came on screen! Ha Ha
    I think you're in a very large group that felt the same about The Great Ziegfeld. I was talking to my mom about it and she said she couldn't get through it either.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the winners and Warner getting snubbed in 1936.

    I think your observation about Chaplin are spot on! Thanks so much for stopping by! Always great having you in our discussions on the Oscars.

    I feel the same about TGZ! The costumes and dance numbers were visually appealing but it was the script that made it feel like it went on for 6 hrs! So glad you've been following along as I make my way through the early Oscars. As for Charlie, it is troublesome that he had a fondness for the 'younger ladies' and after reading so much on it I have to wrap my mind around the fact that it was during a time when these young women had their mothers over their shoulders, hoping that Charlie would consider them worthy of a bit of attention if ya know what I mean. Of course that still doesn't make it right.

    @Tom, Thanks for stopping by! The montage videos are a lot of fun.

    You certainly aren't alone in your opinion of TGZ! It's pretty surprising that Irene never received an Oscar but she's in great company with Cary Grant, Chaplin, Garbo, Harlow and Lombard.

    Some years I've wondered why I still watch the Awards but I try to see as many of the noms as I can beforehand, which usually just gets me frustrated because my choices don't win! Ha Guess that's how viewers felt from the inception.
    Thanks for joining in on our Oscar discussion Eve. Always great to hear your opinions.

  8. @Dawn,
    I agree! I mentioned to Eve that they are in a group of stars that should have won! Cary Grant of course is the main one for me.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  9. I agree about The Great Ziegfeld. It was not Best Picture worthy in my eyes. To see Modern Times ignored tells me it was obviously a political move to rob Chaplin -- it is a great movie. I love these Oscar posts, Page. The trivia part is always fun, and these posts remind me of movies I'd like to see again!

    1. Becks,
      It looks like everyone agrees regarding The Great Ziegfeld! It bored me to tears and I had such high expectations since it was a bio on such a talented and interesting man.

      I know I get wound up over Charlie, his treatment and I agree that it was due to his political views, actions even if they were exaggerated.
      So glad you're enjoying my Oscar series.