Wednesday, November 25, 2020

This December: 1970

Tuesday, December 1st, marks the beginning of the Silver Screening Room's 1970 Retrospective, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the US release of...well, of a lot of movies. I watched 74 in all, including 30 Academy Award nominees, so be prepared for discussions of:

Monday, October 26, 2020

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The 1931-32 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part One

This first part of the 1931-32 Retro Hollmann Awards focuses on the eight categories not yet added to the Academy Awards - the Supporting Acting categories, the Music categories, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup, and Visual Effects - as well as Best Ensemble. Which is where we're starting:

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The 1931-32 Hollmann Awards - Nominees

For the umpteenth time, here are the nominees for the Retro Hollmann Awards - this time, covering 1931-32.

A note: While the Fifth Academy Awards only had nine feature film categories, with the number of nominees in each fluctuating (but never five!), I have the full 18 regular Hollmann Awards categories here, five nominees per category. The order below was determined by random drawing.

The nominees are:

Monday, October 19, 2020

Top Ten of 1931-32

Here 'tis, my Top Ten for the films released between August 1, 1931 and July 31st, 1932. Apologies to the almost-made-its: À nous la libertéBroken LullabyGrand HotelMata Hari, Million Dollar LegsMurders in the Rue Morgue, and Waterloo Bridge.


Now, the list proper, in alphabetical order:

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Best Motion Picture of the Year: 1931-32, Day Fourteen

The Fifth Academy Awards was the place for screen history: movie debuts, ties, and the one trivia piece everyone gets a kick out of, Grand Hotel winning Best Picture with no other nominations.

What's funny about that Grand Hotel bit is...it wasn't the only lone Best Picture nominee. Of the eight films competing, four were unnominated elsewhere. In addition to the ensemble drama Grand Hotel, there was Five Star Final, about a tabloid ruining the life of a woman trying to get her life back on track; One Hour with You, a musical-comedy in which a happily married couple find their marital bliss threatened by the wife's best friend; and The Smiling Lieutenant, a musical-comedy in which a lieutenant merrily living in sin with a female orchestra leader finds himself betrothed to the princess of a small nation. It's a curious mix of loners, especially alongside based-on-a-bestseller Arrowsmith, two-time Oscar winner Bad Girl, hit weepie The Champ, and dangerously sexy Shanghai Express. So let's talk about it!

Friday, October 16, 2020

Best Actress, 1931-32, Day Thirteen

The story of the fifth Best Actress race is that of the stage. Marie Dressler was already a Hollywood powerhouse and Oscar winner - indeed, she was the reigning champion for Best Actress, thanks to her performance in Min and Bill - but the other two nominees were better known for their theatrical, rather than their cinematic, output. (For more on Marie Dressler, I recommend the You Must Remember This spin-off show Make Me Over; Dressler's career and why it was so unique is covered in one episode by Farran Nehme.)


Lynn Fontanne and husband Alfred Lunt were the King and Queen of Broadway. Though Fontanne had appeared in two earlier films in the silent era, the stage was her true metier. Look up her credits on IBDb, and you'll find consistent work from 1910 - 1958; look up her credits on IMDb, and you'll see four films, two television guest appearances, and three teleplays, including The Magnificent Yankee, which earned her and Lunt Emmy wins. Much was made in 1931 of MGM being able to nab the couple to recreate their smash stage hit of 1924, The Guardsman, and even more so once the success carried over into cinema. Despite Thalberg's best efforts, however, Fontanne and Lunt were not to be swayed: back to the boards of New York they tread.


Helen Hayes was an accomplished stage actress - she would eventually come to be known as the First Lady of the American Stage - when she joined her writer husband in Los Angeles. Once again, MGM did the coaxing, landing Hayes for her screen debut in The Sin of Madelon Claudet...provided they hire her husband to do the adapting, of course. Hayes wasn't crazy about the role or the film, but it led to a long and illustrious screen career, one that she was able to balance alongside a healthy stage career. Her asthma pushed her to retire from theatre work in 1971 after the revival of Harvey, but she continued doing films and TV roles through 1985. She's an EGOT-er, including two Oscars and two Tonys.

And with that intro done, here's they work they were honored for: