Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Academy Awards: 1937

As we gear up for this years Academy Awards, it's time to take another trip back to previous seasons. Thanks for joining me for the 1937 ceremony, the winners, losers and snubs.

Winner: The Life of Emile Zola, Nominees: The Awful Truth, Captains Courageous, Dead End, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, Lost Horizon, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Stage Door, A Star is Born

Best Picture winner: "The Life of Emile Zola"

Winner: Spencer Tracy in "Captains Courageous", Nominees: Charles Boyer in "Conquest", Fredric March in "A Star is Born", Robert Montgomery in "Night Must Fall", Paul Muni in "The Life of Emile Zola

Spencer Tracy, Best Actor winner in "Captains Courageous"

Winner: Luise Rainer in "The Good Earth", Nominees: Irene Dunne in "The Awful Truth", Greta Garbo in "Camille", Janet Gaynor in "A Star is Born", Barbara Stanwyck in "Stella Dallas"

Luise Rainer, Best Actress winner in "The Good Earth"

Winner: Joseph Schildkraut in "The Life of Emile Zola", Nominees: Ralph Bellamy in "The Awful Truth", Thomas Mitchell in "The Hurricane", H.B. Warner in "Lost Horizon", Roland Young in "Topper"

Joseph Schildkraut, Best Supporting Actor winner in "The Life of Emile Zola"

Winner: Alice Brady in "In Old Chicago", Nominees: Andrea Leeds in "Stage Door", Ann Shirley in "Stella Dallas", Claire Trevor in "Dead End", May Whitty in "Night Must Fall", 

Alice Brady, Best Supporting Actress winner in "The Awful Truth"

Winner: Leo McCarey for "The Awful Truth", Nominees: William Dieterle for "The Life of Emile Zola", Sidney Franklin for "The Good Earth", Gregory La Cava for "Stage Door", William Wellmann for "A Star is Born"

Leo McCarey, Director winner for "The Awful Truth"

Omissions and Snubs:
Cary Grant in "The Awful Truth" (Comedians always getting the shaft!)
Director Victor Fleming for "Captains Courageous"
"Way Out West"
Busby Berkeley for his finale dance number in "Varsity Show" (Best Dance Direction)
George and Ira Gershwin's They Can't Take That Away From Me, sung by Fred Astaire in "Shall We Dance" (lost out to Bing Crosby's Sweet Leilani)
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in the Best Picture category
Carole Lombard in "Nothing Sacred"
"Camille" for Best Picture or Best Director (George Cukor)
Frank Capra for Best Director "Lost Horizon", Ronald Coleman in "Lost Horizon"
Paul Muni in "The Good Earth"
W.S. Van Dyke, Best Director for "The Prisoner of Zenda"

Honorable Mentions:

The Marx Brothers comedy: "A Day At The Races"

"Topper" Ensemble cast and directing. (In my opinion, Roland Young should have won the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance.) Darn biopics!

"The Hurricane" for it's ground breaking special effects, Mary Astor for her supporting role. 

The cast of "Stage Door", Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers and Adolphe Menjou

Oscar Trivia:
The award ceremony was held on March 10th, 1938 at the Biltmore Hotel and hosted by Bob Burns. (The ceremony was originally scheduled for March 3rd but due to heavy flooding in Los Angeles it was postponed.

Luise Rainer was the first thespian to win back to back Oscars, winning the year before in "The Great Ziegfeld" She would also be the first to win two Academy Awards. (Spencer Tracy would tie her record the following year) I will say that I agree with Tracy and Rainer's winning.  Luise was phenomenal as O-Lan from Pearl Buck's beautifully written book, the screen adaptation was everything you want a film to be, with Muni in one of his best performances as well. (Now, her win the previous year, well I won't get into that again!)

This would be the last year for the categories, Best Assistant Director and Best Dance Direction. (Sorry Busby Berkeley)

The Life of Emile Zola would receive a record 10 nominations with three wins. It would also be Warner Bro's first Best Picture win.  Warner Bro's, already known for it's biopics pushed heavily for the film to be made with Paul Muni after his Oscar win the previous year in "The Story of Louis Pasteur" 

Walt Disney won his sixth consecutive Oscar in the Short Film category for "The Old Mill"

The Oscar nominated film "The Good Earth" would be the last film Irving Thalberg would work on before his untimely death at 36 at the end of 1936.  Prompting the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award which Darryl F. Zanuck would be the first recipient of during the 1938 ceremony.

Mack Sennett won an Honorary Award for his lasting contribution to the comedy technique of the screen. Edgar Bergen and cinematographer, W. Howard Greene were also given the Honorary Award that year.

The most egregious Oscar omission for 1938 was Cukor's "Camille" which was far superior to "In Old Chicago" and "One Hundred Men and a Girl" (both Best Picture nominees).  

Best Picture winner, "The Life of Emile Zola" was filmed in reverse, with Muni starting out with his own long beard. It was trimmed and darkened as the film progressed. (I guess in the case, regressed). His makeup took 3 1/2 each morning.

Early in the film "The Life of Emile Zola", there's a scene with Zola in his drafty apartment burning books to keep warm. The real life Emile Zola died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a stopped chimney

Well, that's a wrap for the winners and losers of 1937. I hope you enjoyed my look back and please share your opinion on the winners and snubs, your favorites. Also, take a moment to enjoy the short montage of the winners of 1937 below. Take it away Bing!



  1. "The most egregious Oscar omission for 1938 was Cukor's "Camille" which was far superior to "In Old Chicago" and "One Hundred Men and a Girl" (both Best Picture nominees)." Without a doubt!

    1. Kim,
      I'm waiting for FlickChick to say the same thing! She loves Greta too. Some of the winners and nominees are always a surprise. Like Cary Grant, at least Garbo won an honorary Oscar years later. Not the same of course.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I recently saw 'Stella Dallas.' Didn't know Anne Shirley got nominated as well; she was very good too.

    1. Rich,
      I enjoyed Stella Dallas, Shirley was a standout which isn't an easy task with Stanwyck on screen. A great classic.
      I appreciate your comments.

  3. Some very interesting facts here, Page. I can't believe that "They Can't Take That Away From Me", which has survived the years, lost to Crosby's "Sweet Leilani" which few people remember now. I also would have definitely given best supporting actress to Dame May Whitty for Night Must Fall -- she was fabulous in that. I find that I don't quite agree with you about Luise Rainier -- maybe it's because I loved the book before I saw the movie, but she was nothing like O-Lan in the book and it put me off a little. She's good, but I would have preferred seeing Garbo or Stanwyck get that Oscar. Love the Oscar post, as always.

    1. Becks
      So good to see you back, my friend.
      To be honest I haven't seen Night Must Fall but hopefully it will show up somewhere.

      Glad you're still enjoying these posts leading up to this years Oscars.

  4. His blog amazes me every day!
    Great post, great movies!

    1. Hi Rubi!
      These Oscar posts are a lot of fun to do. We do love our award shows here in the U.S.
      Always good to see you here.

  5. Oh Greta, snubbed again! And, just to add insult to injury, Cary was snubbed, too! A double-snubbing! In retrospect, I would have preferred Robert Montgomery in "Night Must Fall," which has really stood the test of time. But, hey, I guess you had to be there! Well, thanks for inviting me, since my invitation to this year's affair obviously was lost in the mail!

    1. FlickChick,
      As soon as I got to Greta I thought of you! Ha Ha I even responded to Kim above that you would be here mentioning Greta's latest snub.

      Cary Grant never winning an Oscar is just beyond shocking and disgraceful. Not counting his Honorary Oscar that he shares with Greta, Chaplin and so many others, it's just not the same. All deserving for at least three of their performances on film.

      Always glad to get your feedback on these Oscar posts.

  6. I would have liked to have seen Doug Fairbanks Jr. get a Supporting Actor nod for "The Prisoner of Zenda." He's one of the villains, but he's so charming that when he escapes at the end, we cheer. Wouldn't do that for the hissable Basil Rathbone, I can assure you. Great post.

    1. Oh shoot Kevin, I mentioned Van Dyke in my snubs but failed to mentioned Doug. Prisoner of Zenda is on my top 3 'swashbuckler' list. Love the film and Coleman was great in his duel role. It was also my first introduction to the beautiful Madeleine Carroll.
      Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully I'll get one more year posted before this years Oscars.

  7. Alice Brady did very nice work in "In Old Chicago", but I wish she had won her earlier nomination for "My Man Godfrey". In this year I think acting prizes should have gone to Robert Montgomery for his frightening and timeless performance in "Night Must Fall" and his remarkable co-star May Whitty.

    One thing that stands out is the amount of quality in movies and performances that the Academy had to choose from. Wow!

    1. CW,
      Night Must Fall is getting a lot of love which makes me determined to see it.

      You're right about the great film, acting this year, the same in 35-36. It couldn't be easy for Academy voters.

      So glad you're enjoying this look back at the Oscars.

  8. I can't relate to the movies way back in 1930's but I'm looking forward to watch it since a lot of people are giving a good feed back.

    1. I hope you can catch a few of these Classic gems. The 30's brought us some real treasures.

      Stop by and join the discussion any time, have a look in my archives.

  9. Did you see the latest Entertainment Weekly -- the Oscar issue? There's an interview with Luise Rainer, who is 102 years old! You'll have to check it out.

    1. CFB,
      Thanks so much for letting me know! I'll pick a copy up tomorrow. Would love to interview Luise. I RT the info on Twitter. Are you on Twitter?

  10. Great post! I always learn something new, after stopping by your blog.

    As one of my favorite blogs, I have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. Check out my post for details: . Feel free to accept or decline. No pressure! :)

  11. Just wanted to add more love for 'Night Must Fall.' Great film, really showcased Robert Montgomery's talent, and Dame Mae should have won that Oscar!