Well, the passage of time continues as steadily as ever, and tonight it has been one year since the first post on Oscars and I. In that year, I have covered trivial matters, posted a list of all the films I’ve seen, and, not least, watched and reviewed 144 of the 148 films nominated for Best Picture up to and including the 17th Academy Awards.
Of those 144 films, some have been good, some bad…some exceptionally brilliant, some abysmally terrible. But being the eternal optimist that I am, in looking back on the first year of this blog I’m more inclined to focus on the exceptionally brilliant, of which there were many. And what better way to recap, I thought, than to share a collection of scenes from those films that I have enjoyed most thus far.
The Crowd (1928) was the first film I watched for Oscars and I, and to be sure it was a grand beginning. This film was ridiculously ahead of its time (aside from lacking sound, of course) and its gritty and unflinching realism would go unmatched for another seventeen years. And it’s just so quaint to see a film from an era when happy scenes were shot at Coney Island.
My earliest discovery, Maurice Chevalier, who in this scene from The Love Parade stepped onto the balcony and singlehandedly invented the Hollywood musical.
Oh, Trader Horn. Of all the films I’ve watched so far it has been the most gloriously bad. But unlike some others I could mention (Cimarron, for instance), this one becomes entertaining by virtue of its abysmal writing, acting, and directing…and for this ridiculous scene that beautifully sums up the whole picture.
42nd Street (1933) is not a good film by any stretch, but it’s worth it just for the deliriously fantastical climactic musical number, showing off the ever-expanding possibilities of film as the performance grows beyond the world of the Broadway theatre and into imagination.
I’ve seen it a few times now and I still don’t understand the murder, nor the word “ASBESTOS” on the curtain at the end, but a lot of things in musicals don’t make sense.
For my money, The Thin Man is the finest film to come out of 1934, and if you pressed me for a top five for the decade it would make it easily. It Happened One Night might have swept the top awards that year, but this amazing comedy-murder mystery has held up the best in the eighty-one years since.
Ah, Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer…who cares that they’re ridiculously too old to play Romeo and Juliet? To be honest I never cared for the play because it’s just a story of two immature idiots, but if I just take this scene out of context and imagine it’s just these two inimitable humans declaring their love for one another, it makes total sense.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) is a great film overall, but I remember it most for introducing me (and, at the time, America) to the amazing Greer Garson. This clip gets me every time, it’s just so adorable. If there is one scene from any film that I hope will one day come true in my life, it’s this one (ideally real life would also include Greer Garson, but one can’t have everything).
I’ve posted this scene from Rebecca (1940) in my entry on the 13th Academy Awards, but I can’t help it…it’s still one of my favorite scenes from any film. So well directed, Olivier and Fontaine at the top of their game, the blocking and camerawork perfect complements to the action. Just superb.
Greer Garson being lovely again, this time with Ronald Colman. Damn it, I want this scene to happen to me, too. Oh, why couldn’t she have ever made a film with Leslie Howard?
And how better to end this look back than with the conclusion of Casablanca? Not that schmaltzy “here’s looking at you, kid.” No, the real relationship driving this film is between Rick and Louis, and watching their beautiful friendship begin is a most satisfying way to wrap up Oscar and I’s first year.