My Top 10:

allquietonthewesternfront

The final poignant moment in All Quiet on the Western Front

  1. All Quiet on the Western Front
  2. City Girl
  3. Arsenal
  4. Hell’s Angels
  5. The General Line
  6. Under the Roofs of Paris
  7. The Great Gabbo
  8. Anna Christie
  9. Blackmail
  10. Diary of a Lost Girl

Academy Awards:

  • Best Production:  All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Best Director:  Lewis Milestone  (All Quiet on the Western Front)
  • Best Actor:  George Arliss  (Disraeli)
  • Best Actress:  Norma Shearer  (The Divorcee)
  • Best Writing Achievement:  The Big House

TSPDT Consensus Top 5 Films:

  • #167 – Un Chien andalou
  • #296 – All Quiet on the Western Front
  • #569 – Hallelujah!
  • #629 – Under the Roofs of Paris
  • #783 – Diary of a Lost Girl

Top 5 Awards Points

  1. All Quiet on the Western Front – 255
  2. The Big House – 205
  3. The Divorcee – 205
  4. The Love Parade – 180
  5. Disraeli – 160

AFI Top 100 Films:

  • All Quiet on the Western Front – #54  (1998) – not on 2007 list

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  All Quiet on the Western Front
    anna-christie

    Garbo Talks! But unfortunately, didn't win an Oscar for Anna Christie, though she deserved it.

  • Best Director:  Lewis Milestone  (All Quiet on the Western Front)
  • Best Actor:  George Arliss  (Disraeli)
  • Best Actress:  Greta Garbo  (Anna Christie)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  All Quiet on the Western Front (from the novel by Erich Marie Remarque)
  • Best Foreign Film: L’Age D’or

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  The Cocoanuts
  • Best Line:  “Why, it’s the most exclusive residential district in Florida.  Nobody lives there.” – Groucho Marx  (The Cocoanuts)

Ebert Great Movie:

  • Un Chien andalou

What does it say about a year when the film everyone recognizes as the best and most important film is only 16 minutes long?  If it wasn’t for Buñuel and Dali’s short masterpiece and the brilliant All Quiet on the Western Front it wouldn’t even be worth looking at this year in film.  I did provide a top 10 list, but All Quiet is the only **** film and only the next two even reached ***.5.  It’s not even a question of films still left to be seen.  I’ve seen every eligible film in the top 1000 and 16 of the 25 Oscar nominees.  There just isn’t that much worth remembering.

Film History: The importance of film to various nations begins to be explored, as antitrust lawsuits hit Fox and Warner Bros, Stalin announces that 30% of Soviet film efforts must be devoted to works supporting the Five Year Plan and Italy passes a law requiring all films to be exhibited in Italian (leading, eventually, to the casting of Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris).  We have the single worst credit to ever appear on screen (“with additional dialogue by Sam Taylor” on The Taming of the Shrew).  The official acceptance of the Code of Production is passed in February of 1930, though there is little in the way of enforcement until 1933.  We also have King Vidor’s Hallelujah!, the first major sound film to have an all black cast (yet, it still had a white director).

Academy Awards: It was the third annual Academy Awards and it started to get things right.  For the first time, the same film won both Best Picture and Best Director (something which has happened 76% of the time since) and the first time the Best Picture was nominated for its Screenplay (which has happened 93% of the time since).  It was also, in my opinion, the first time the Academy got it right.  Actually, a lot of people’s opinion, since not only is All Quiet the highest rated feature length film from the year on TSPDT Top 1000, but it’s almost 300 spots above any other film from that year (and the only BP nominee from that year to make the Top 1000 at all or to make it into AFI’s 400 long consideration list).  Otherwise there isn’t much interesting about this year.  The Love Parade became the first film to get 6 nominations and all the BP nominees got at least 3 nominations.

Overlooked film of 1929:

great-gabbo-erich-von-stroheim

Erich von Stroheim embarking on an acting only career in The Great Gabbo

The Great Gabbo (dir. James Cruze with uncredited directing from Erich von Stroheim)

The directing career of Erich von Stroheim was pretty much over by 1929.  He was done with Queen Kelly, though it would not actually get shown in theaters until 1985.  He would make one more film, Hello Sister!, but it would be taken away from him and almost completely re-shot.  But this was sort of a new beginning for him as an actor.

There is some of the sly wit that von Stroheim showed as a director and screenwriter that shines through in this film (enough to feed the notion that he directed and wrote considerable portions of it).  It’s really his performance that makes the film worth watching.  It’s a fairly simple story about a ventriloquist and his on stage performances with his dummy.

But look at von Stroheim when he is onscreen (which is most of the film).  He always managed to have a proud aristocratic bearing, no matter what the situation.  He was so perfect in later roles, as the aristocratic camp commander in Grand Illusion, as Rommell in Five Graves to Cairo, as the failed director turned chauffer in Sunset Blvd.  He always had a quiet dignity that showed through, yet he bore all the amazing amounts of shit that came his way.

There really isn’t much to find in the years of 1929 and 1930.  They were a barren wasteland, not only for American film, but pretty much for film industries around the world.  The different countries were slowly learning the power of film and they were reacting to the introduction of sound.  But this is one small film that has been pretty much been overlooked and deserves to be found again.

Advertisements