A Century of Film

“More-Stars-Than-There-Are-In-Heaven”-MGM’s-20th-anniversary-1943
Film History Through 1939

There’s not much to say here except to point to my original post that covered things through 1929 and the subsequent post that covers film history through to 1939.

Genres

Most of the information will be down in the Statistics section.

For the following two lists, if no film reaches ***.5 on the first list or is ** or worse on the second, the genre gets an n/a.

The Best Films by Genre Through 1939

  • Action:  n/a
  • Adventure:  The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • Comedy:  Modern Times
  • Crime:  M
  • Drama:  Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
  • Fantasy:  Faust
  • Horror:  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  • Kids:  The Wizard of Oz
  • Musical:  A nous la liberte
  • Mystery:  The Thin Man
  • Sci-Fi:  Metropolis
  • Suspense:  The 39 Steps
  • War:  The Grand Illusion
  • Western:  Stagecoach

The Worst Films by Genre Through 1939

  • Action:  The Racing Strain
  • Adventure:  Lost Jungle
  • Comedy:  General Spanky
  • Crime:  Let em Have It
  • Drama:  Oliver Twist
  • Fantasy:  n/a
  • Horror:  The Vampire Bat
  • Kids:  Huckleberry Finn
  • Musical:  Stand Up and Cheer!
  • Mystery:  The Maltese Falcon (1931)
  • Sci-Fi:  n/a
  • Suspense:  Jamaica Inn
  • War:  Crimson Romance
  • Western:  The Star Packer

Sub-Genres

I’m only going to cover sub-genres that were plentiful in both the 20s and the 30s.  If it was just one or the other, it was covered in one of the two posts already.  I have dropped Swashbucklers (the one sub-genre that was quite plentiful in the 20s but much less so than the 30s) and not included any of the ones that developed in the 30s.

Lit Adaptation

  • Best Film:  Greed

I list 91 films through 1939 with an average of 66.15.  By 1939, I list 22 separate authors (aside from another 23 films I don’t list the author for) that I track.  Dickens has the most adaptations with 9 with A Tale of Two Cities being by far the best, though with an average of 62.3, the Dickens adaptations aren’t the greatest.

Romance

  • Best Film:  Lonesome

At this point up to 138 films with an average of 61.7.

Romantic

  • Best Film:  City Lights

Up to 181 films with a 60.5 average.  Now this includes not only Comedies but also Musicals that are Romantic Comedies.

World War I

  • Best Film:  The Grand Illusion

Of the 64 War films I’ve seen through 1939, 51 of them are World War I films which of course includes two of the Top 7 films through 1939 (All Quiet on the Western Front is the other).  There are also a few Dramas that are WWI films (like Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) if the War is a major part of the film but the film is not primarily a War film.  In total, that makes 58 films for a 68.6 average with only two bad films (Ace of Aces, Crimson Romance).

The Directors

From here on out with this and the next one, I’ll just cover the lists rather than individual people in the full history posts.  The directors will be covered in the decade posts.

Best Director Through 1939  (weighted points system)

  1. Fritz Lang  (556)
  2. F.W. Murnau  (412)
  3. D.W. Griffith  (400)
  4. Jean Renoir  (344)
  5. Charlie Chaplin  (324)
  6. Frank Capra  (302)
  7. Erich von Stroheim  (290)
  8. Alfred Hitchcock  (289)
  9. Sergei Eisenstein  (235)
  10. James Whale  (234)

Analysis:  This adds up points on a weighted scale (100-1) based on a weighted version of my 9 point director scale.  This is different than the usual list here for the genres or studios because it’s based on the pure directing points rather than the scaled list for how they finish at the Nighthawk Awards.  It is cumulative for all films made by that director through 1939.

Just outside the Top 10 are John Ford (222), Howard Hawks (212) and Michael Curtiz (212), all of whom will earn a lot of points early in the 40s.  At this point, Murnau is dead and Griffith, Von Stroheim and Whale are basically done.  Because of Chaplin, Hitchcock, Ford and Hawks, all of whom directed phenomenal films in 1940, this list changes massively just in the next year.

Acting

Best Actress Through 1939  (weighted points system)

  1. Bette Davis  (315)
  2. Janet Gaynor  (297)
  3. Katharine Hepburn  (265)
  4. Norma Shearer  (261)
  5. Greta Garbo  (260)
  6. Lillian Gish  (253)
  7. Janet Gaynor  (210)
  8. Gloria Swanson  (208)
  9. Brigitte Helm  (147)
  10. Marie Dressler  (143)

Analysis:  This adds up points on a weighted scale (78-1; 67-1) based on a weighted version of my 9 point acting scale.  It is cumulative for all films made by that actress through 1939.

Best Actor Through 1939  (weighted points system)

  1. Leslie Howard  (371)
  2. Fredric March  (356)
  3. Lon Chaney  (299)
  4. Charlie Chaplin  (288)
  5. Charles Laughton  (279)
  6. James Cagney  (243)
  7. Clark Gable  (235)
  8. Emil Jannings  (227)
  9. Paul Muni  (218)
  10. Claude Rains  (208)

Analysis:  This adds up points on a weighted scale (78-1; 67-1) based on a weighted version of my 9 point acting scale.  It is cumulative for all films made by that actor through 1939.

The Studios

See below for specific statistics about the studios.  There are a lots in the Statistics section but there is also some significant information in the Academy Awards section.

The Best Films by Studio Through 1939

  • Columbia:  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • Disney:  Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  • Fox:  Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
  • MGM:  The Wizard of Oz
  • Paramount:  M
  • RKO Radio:  Bringing Up Baby
  • United Artists:  Modern Times
  • Universal:  All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Warner Bros:  The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Worst Films by Studio Through 1939

note:  Must have a minimum of 50 films and must have a film that is ** or lower.

  • Columbia:  The Terror of Tiny Town
  • Disney:  n/a
  • Fox:  Stand Up and Cheer!
  • Grand National:  Damaged Goods
  • MGM:  General Spanky
  • Monogram:  Oliver Twist
  • Paramount:  Cleopatra
  • Republic:  Git Along Little Dogies
  • RKO Radio:  When’s Your Birthday
  • United Artists:  White Zombie
  • Universal:  Werewolf of London
  • Warner Bros:  The Return of Doctor X

Countries

Through 1939, I’m up to 370 films made primarily in a foreign language.  That even includes, starting in 1939, American films not made in English (Tevya – made in Yiddish).

The Ten Countries I’ve Seen The Most Films From Through 1939

  1. France  –  117
  2. Germany  –  100
  3. USSR  –  60
  4. Japan  –  27
  5. Sweden  –  11
  6. China  –  10
  7. Italy  –  9
  8. Mexico  –  8
  9. Hungary  –  5
  10. Brazil  /  Czechoslovakia  /  Denmark  –  4

So, yes, over half the foreign films I’ve seen through 1939 are from France or Germany but they were the biggest producers.  Through 1939, I’m actually up to 20 countries.  I’ve seen no films from Africa through 1939.

Nighthawk Points Through 1939:

  1. France  –  740
  2. Germany  –  320
  3. USSR  –   140
  4. Spain  –  20
  5. Japan  –  20

That’s the whole list.  Because so many Foreign Films get crammed into the 1912-26 combined year, very few countries actually earn nominations.  Through 1932, Germany wins three awards, France wins two and the Soviets win one.  From 1933-1939 France wins every award; the only year it doesn’t make the best film is 1935 when no Foreign Film I’ve seen meets the ***.5 threshold required for a nomination.

Weighted Nighthawk Points for Foreign Film by Director Through 1939

  1. Jean Renoir  –  231
  2. Fritz Lang  –  156
  3. Sergei Eisenstein  –  99
  4. Rene Clair  –  90
  5. Marcel Carne  –  89
  6. Georg Wilhelm Pabst  –  84
  7. Aleksandr Dovzhenko  –  83
  8. F.W. Murnau  –  82
  9. Marcel Pagnol  –  81
  10. Julien Duvivier  –  71

note:  Unlike the Director, Actor and Actress lists above, this is actually based on the weighted version of the Nighthawk Award (40-1) depending on place.  It’s skewed a bit because so many films make the 1912-26 list that great films get fewer points than weaker films later in the 30s.
note:  It’s worth noting that both Lang and Murnau came to Hollywood and starting making films in English.

The Best Film I’ve Seen By Country Through 1939

  • France  –  The Grand Illusion
  • Germany  –  M
  • Italy  –  Cabiria
  • Japan  –  A Story of Floating Weeds
  • Spain  –  L’Age d’Or
  • Sweden  –  Ingeborg Holm
  • USSR  –  The Battleship Potemkin

Every **** foreign film I’ve seen through 1939 is from France, Germany or the USSR.

lists explanation

The lists down below were created from my Top 1000 list leading up to the full revelation of the list.  There is also a bottom 10 list.  But I am not doing a list of in-between films like I did for the Genre and Studio posts.  I am also not doing links because it takes a really long time.

Since there aren’t any links to confuse things, I did decide to color-code them (red won the Oscar for Best Picture, blue was nominated).

The Top 100 Films Through 1939

  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. The Grand Illusion
  3. Modern Times
  4. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
  5. M
  6. Metropolis
  7. All Quiet on the Western Front
  8. City Lights
  9. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  10. Greed
  11. The Battleship Potemkin
  12. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  13. Nosferatu
  14. The Gold Rush
  15. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  16. The Rules of the Game
  17. A Star is Born
  18. The Petrified Forest
  19. Scarface
  20. Bringing Up Baby
  21. King Kong
  22. The Informer
  23. Mutiny on the Bounty
  24. The 39 Steps
  25. Wuthering Heights
  26. The Thin Man
  27. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
  28. Les Miserables
  29. Vampyr
  30. The Phantom of the Opera
  31. The Bride of Frankenstein
  32. It Happened One Night
  33. Duck Soup
  34. Captain Blood
  35. Frankenstein
  36. The Hunchback of Notre Dame  (1923)
  37. Stagecoach
  38. A Nous La Liberte
  39. Faust
  40. You Only Live Once
  41. The Birth of a Nation
  42. The Invisible Man
  43. The Gay Divorcee
  44. The Last Laugh
  45. Dracula
  46. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
  47. Foolish Wives
  48. Horse Feathers
  49. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
  50. Pygmalion
  51. My Man Godfrey
  52. The Man Who Knew Too Much
  53. The General
  54. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  55. The Wind
  56. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1931)
  57. The Public Enemy
  58. The Awful Truth
  59. Broken Blossoms
  60. You Can’t Take It With You
  61. La bete humaine
  62. Gone with the Wind
  63. The Man Who Laughs
  64. Port of Shadows
  65. Angels with Dirty Faces
  66. A Tale of Two Cities
  67. Design for Living
  68. Intolerance
  69. The Circus
  70. Our Hospitality
  71. Steamboat Bill, Jr.
  72. Le Million
  73. The Last Command
  74. Dinner at Eight
  75. 7th Heaven  (1927)
  76. The Lady Vanishes
  77. October
  78. Lonesome
  79. The Three Penny Opera
  80. L’Argent
  81. The Love of Jeanne Ney
  82. Crainquebille
  83. L’Age D’Or
  84. Alexander Nevsky
  85. Napoleon
  86. Boudu Saved from Drowning
  87. Footlight Parade
  88. Nibelungen: Siegfried
  89. L’Atalante
  90. Ingeborg Holm
  91. Queen Kelly
  92. Merrily We Live
  93. Le Jour se Leve
  94. The Mummy
  95. The Blood of a Poet
  96. Miss Europe
  97. Freaks
  98. Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife
  99. Blind Husbands
  100. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

The Bottom 10 Films Through 1939, #3588-3597
(worst being #10, which is #3597 overall)

  1. Strike Me Pink
  2. Werewolf of London
  3. Elmer the Great
  4. General Spanky
  5. Damaged Goods
  6. Cleopatra
  7. White Zombie
  8. Oliver Twist
  9. The Return of Doctor X
  10. The Vampire Bat

The Statistics  –  Through 1939

Total Films I Have Seen, 1912-1939:  3597

Total Films Used For Statistics Below:  3495

By Genre:

  • Drama:  1377
  • Comedy:  728
  • Musical:  330
  • Western:  257
  • Mystery:  218
  • Crime:  179
  • Adventure:  142
  • Horror:  65
  • War:  61
  • Suspense:  47
  • Action:  32
  • Sci-Fi:  21
  • Fantasy:  18

% of All Films That are Drama:

  • 1920s:  57.12%
  • 1930s:  36.29%
  • 1912-39:  39.39%

% of All Films That are Genre (non-Drama / Comedy / Musical):

  • 1920s:  26.35%
  • 1930s:  31.05%
  • 1912-39:  30.35%

% of All Films That Are Foreign Language:

  • 1920s:  19.23%
  • 1930s:  6.35%
  • 1912-39:  8.27%

Average Film by Genre, 1912-39:

  • Fantasy:  69.17
  • War:  68.98
  • Horror:  67.62
  • Sci-Fi:  67.52
  • Suspense:  62.85
  • Kids:  62.40
  • Drama:  61.96
  • Adventure:  60.98
  • Comedy:  60.16
  • Musical:  59.68
  • Crime:  59.37
  • Mystery:  57.42
  • Action:  52.91
  • Western:  51.93

Top 10 Finishes by Genre:

  • Drama:  49
  • Comedy:  24
  • Horror:  15
  • Crime:  9
  • Adventure:  6
  • Musical:  6
  • Suspense:  6
  • War:  6
  • Mystery:  3
  • Kids:  2
  • Sci-Fi:  2
  • Western:  1
  • Fantasy:  1
  • Action:  0

Top 20 Finishes by Genre:

  • Drama:  117
  • Comedy:  55
  • Horror:  19
  • Adventure:  11
  • Suspense:  11
  • Crime:  10
  • War:  10
  • Musical:  9
  • Mystery:  6
  • Fantasy:  5
  • Sci-Fi:  3
  • Kids:  2
  • Western:  1
  • Action:  0

By Studio (Top 10):

  • MGM / Metro:  519
  • Warner Bros:  506
  • Paramount:  451
  • RKO Radio:  352
  • Fox Films / 20th Century-Fox:  298
  • United Artists:  217
  • Universal:  180
  • Columbia:  140
  • Republic:  99
  • Monogram:  69

The “Major” Studios by Average:

note:  “Major” is in quotes because according to the standard definition of “The Majors”, Columbia, Universal and United Artists didn’t count.

  • Universal:  70.26
  • United Artists:  70.05
  • MGM:  69.23
  • Fox:  68.14
  • Paramount:  68.14
  • Columbia:  66.83
  • Warners:  64.84
  • RKO:  63

Top 10 Finishes by “Major” Studio:

  • MGM:  21
  • United Artists:  15
  • Universal:  15
  • Paramount:  11
  • Warners:  11
  • RKO:  10
  • Columbia:  6
  • Fox:  4
  • Disney:  1

Top 20 Finishes by “Major” Studio:

  • MGM:  45
  • United Artists:  31
  • Paramount:  29
  • Warners:  22
  • Universal:  20
  • RKO:  14
  • Columbia:  13
  • Fox:  13
  • Disney:  1

Breakdown by Star Rating:

  • ****:  2.23%
  • ***.5:  3.06%
  • ***:  42.29%
  • **.5:  37.91%
  • **:  14.39%
  • *.5:  0.09%
  • *:  0.03%
  • .5:  0.00%
  • 0:  0.00%

Nighthawk Awards

This area will have a lot more than I usually do in this section.  This is an in-depth look at all the films and I what I think of them when it comes to awards.  Please note that it does run off my “Film Years” which means that there are films from the 30s which won’t appear because they wouldn’t have an L.A. release until after 1939.  That includes several great French films (The Rules of the Game, La bete humaine, Port of Shadows) that didn’t make it over because of course the world was at war by the end of 1939.

This section covers all things through 1939 so it has several lists that weren’t in the actual 30s post because I only track them going forward, not by decade.  Also, because of the way I keep track of my lists, there are no “ties” for the 10th spot.  The first film to reach that amount gets to keep that spot.  Bear in mind also that all of the pre-Oscar films are lumped together in one “year” which makes the competition for nominations very high.

  • Number of Films That Earn Nominations:  311
  • Number of Films That Win Nighthawks:  99
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  185
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  47
  • Number of Films With 10+ Nominations:  27
  • Total Number of Nominations:  1079
  • Total Number of Wins:  312
  • Director with Most Nighthawk Nominated Films:  six directors  (7)
  • Best Film with No Nighthawks:  Wuthering Heights
  • Best Film with No Nighthawk Nominations:  The General  (1926)
  • Number of Films That Earn Comedy Nominations:  77
  • Number of Films That Win Comedy Awards:  40
  • Total Number of Comedy Nominations:  298
  • Total Number of Comedy Wins:  104
  • Best Comedy Film With No Nominations:  The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks
  • Number of Films That Earn Drama Nominations:  46
  • Number of Films That Win Drama Awards:  57
  • Total Number of Drama Nominations:  184
  • Total Number of Drama Wins:  120
  • Best Drama Film With No Nominations:  Intolerance
  • Best Film Without a Top 10 Finish:  Blind Husbands
  • Best Film Without a Top 20 Finish:  The Conquering Power

Most Nighthawk Nominations:

  1. The Wizard of Oz  –  20
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  14
  3. Gone with the Wind  –  14
  4. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  13
  5. Frankenstein  –  12
  6. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  –  12
  7. My Man Godfrey  –  12
  8. The Grand Illusion  –  12
  9. Metropolis  –  11
  10. Nosferatu  –  11

Most Nighthawks:

  1. The Wizard of Oz  –  14
  2. City Lights  –  9
  3. Modern Times  –  9
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  8
  5. M  –  8
  6. Frankenstein  –  7
  7. The Grand Illusion  –  7
  8. Nosferatu  –  7
  9. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans  –  6
  10. The Informer  –  6

Most Nighthawk Points:

  1. The Wizard of Oz  –  845
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  670
  3. City Lights  –  670
  4. Modern Times  –  610
  5. The Grand Illusion  –  610
  6. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans  –  550
  7. Scarface  –  535
  8. The Thin Man  –  530
  9. The Informer  –  530
  10. A Star is Born  –  525

Most Drama Nominations:

  1. The Petrified Forest  –  9
  2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  –  9
  3. The Love of Jeanne Ney –  7
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  7
  5. The Wonderful Lies of Nina Petrovna  –  7
  6. Scarface  –  7
  7. Les Miserables  –  7
  8. Wuthering Heights  –  7
  9. Gone with the Wind  –  7
  10. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans –  6

Most Drama Wins:

  1. The Petrified Forest –  7
  2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington –  6
  3. A Star is Born  –  5
  4. The Grand Illusion  –  5
  5. Greed  –  4
  6. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans  –  4
  7. Nosferatu  –  4
  8. All Quiet on the Western Front –  4
  9. M  –  4
  10. The Informer  –  4

Most Drama Points:

  1. The Petrified Forest –  610
  2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington –  575
  3. A Star is Born –  445
  4. The Grand Illusion –  445
  5. All Quiet on the Western Front –  440
  6. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans  –  415
  7. M –  410
  8. Scarface  –  405
  9. The Informer –  405
  10. Greed  –  330

Most Comedy Nominations:

  1. My Man Godfrey  –  10
  2. Dinner at Eight  –  9
  3. The Gay Divorcee  –  9
  4. Merrily We Live  –  9
  5. Footlight Parade  –  8
  6. The Awful Truth  –  8
  7. The Wizard of Oz  –  8
  8. Steamboat Bill, Jr.  –  7
  9. Show People  –  7
  10. City Lights  –  7

Most Comedy Wins:

  1. Steamboat Bill, Jr.  –  7
  2. City Lights  –  7
  3. The Wizard of Oz  –  7
  4. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  6
  5. The Awful Truth  –  6
  6. The Gold Rush  –  5
  7. The Thin Man  –  5
  8. The Circus  –  4
  9. Under the Roofs of Paris  –  4
  10. Le million  –  4

Most Comedy Points:

  1. The Wizard of Oz  –  570
  2. Steamboat Bill, Jr.  –  540
  3. City Lights  –  540
  4. The Awful Truth  –  530
  5. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  505
  6. My Man Godfrey  –  500
  7. The Thin Man  –  450
  8. The Gold Rush  –  440
  9. Dinner at Eight  –  435
  10. The Gay Divorcee  –  435

Most Film Points:

note:  This is the point value I assign in all the various categories added up on a scale of 0-9.

  1. The Wizard of Oz  –  168
  2. Gone with the Wind  –  83
  3. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  81
  4. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  –  76
  5. Modern Times  –  73
  6. The Grand Illusion  –  71
  7. Mutiny on the Bounty  –  71
  8. The Petrified Forest  –  69
  9. Captain Blood  –  69
  10. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  68

Most Weighted Film Points:

note:  This is the point value I assign in all the various categories added up on a scale of 0-9, but then weighted to account for their Oscar points, with 8 being the equivalent of an Oscar win.  So, for Picture, the point scale is 1=12, 2=25, 3=37, 4=50, 5=62, 6=75, 7=87, 8=100, 9=115.

  1. The Wizard of Oz  –  966
  2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  –  645
  3. Modern Times  –  606
  4. The Grand Illusion  –  595
  5. The Petrified Forest  –  590
  6. Gone with the Wind  –  580
  7. Mutiny on the Bounty  –  565
  8. City Lights  –  559
  9. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  526
  10. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  529

note:  For an idea of how points don’t translate as well if they are heavy in the lower categories, Captain Blood is at 489 and in 17th place.

Most Weighted Acting Points:

note:  The same as the above category, but only using the acting points.  Because this is weighted (which gives more to lead than supporting), this is not quite the same list I use for doing my Best Ensemble award but it’s close.

  1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  –  279
  2. Gone with the Wind  –  237
  3. My Man Godfrey  –  223
  4. The Petrified Forest  –  221
  5. The Wizard of Oz  –  196
  6. Mutiny on the Bounty  –  166
  7. Merrily We Live  –  153
  8. Pygmalion  –  140
  9. Dinner at Eight  –  139
  10. A Free Soul  –  138

Most Weighted Tech Points:

note:  The same as the above category, but only using the Tech categories.  Because this is weighted (which gives more to the major categories), this is not quite the same list I use for doing my Best Tech award but it’s close.  While there is no maximum possible for the acting category, the maximum here is 386.

  1. The Wizard of Oz  –  365
  2. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  270
  3. Captain Blood  –  239
  4. The Adventures of Robin Hood  –  236
  5. Gone with the Wind  –  226
  6. Modern Times  –  205
  7. King Kong  –  205
  8. The Grand Illusion  –  186
  9. Frankenstein  –  178
  10. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  177

Most Top 20 Points:

note:  This takes a film’s finish in any Nighthawk category and gives it points based on a finish in the Top 20.  A win is 20 points, a 2nd place is 19, down to 20th place which is 1 point.  All categories are equal.

  1. The Wizard of Oz  –  417
  2. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  274
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  271
  4. Frankenstein  –  262
  5. Gone with the Wind  –  258
  6. Captain Blood  –  250
  7. Le million  –  246
  8. The Grand Illusion  –  242
  9. Mutiny on the Bounty  –  239
  10. The Petrified Forest  –  236

Most Top 20 Weighted Points:

note:  This takes a film’s finish in any Nighthawk category and gives it points based on a finish in the Top 20.  However, this weights the categories on a scale based on the award points, both for the win and the nominations.  So, the scale for Picture, in descending order is 100, 77, 70, 67, 63 (it then drops because you can’t have more than 50 points, which is what you get for a nomination), 43, 40, 38, 36, 33, 18, 17, 15, 13, 12, 8, 7, 4, 3, 2.  It’s designed to give more weight to Top 5 and Top 10 finishes.  The scale is roughly the same for all of the categories, beginning with its point total for the award.

  1. The Wizard of Oz  –  928
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  751
  3. City Lights  –  703
  4. The Grand Illusion  –  677
  5. The Petrified Forest  –  672
  6. Modern Times  –  654
  7. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  –  650
  8. Scarface  –  621
  9. A Star is Born  –  614
  10. Gone with the Wind  –  604

Most Nighthawks without a Picture Win

  1. Frankenstein  –  7
  2. The Adventures of Robin Hood  –  5
  3. Metropolis  –  4
  4. Dracula  –  4
  5. King Kong  –  4
  6. The Petrified Forest  –  4
  7. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  –  4
  8. Broken Blossoms  –  3
  9. The Hunchback of Notre Dame  –  3
  10. The Man Who Laughs  –  3

Most Nighthawk Points without a Picture Win

  1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  –  505
  2. The Petrified Forest  –  495
  3. Metropolis  –  450
  4. Frankenstein  –  440
  5. Gone with the Wind  –  435
  6. Dracula  –  420
  7. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  –  415
  8. Mutiny on the Bounty  –  415
  9. My Man Godfrey  –  410
  10. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  395

Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Picture Nomination

  1. Captain Blood  –  10
  2. Faust  –  8
  3. The Love of Jeanne Ney  –  8
  4. Dead End  –  8
  5. L’Argent  –  7
  6. Napoleon  –  6
  7. The Private Life of Henry VIII  –  6
  8. Stage Door  –  6
  9. Merrily We Live  –  6
  10. Angels with Dirty Faces  –  6

Most Nighthawk Points without a Picture Nomination

  1. The Love of Jeanne Ney  –  300
  2. L’Argent  –  285
  3. Captain Blood  –  285
  4. Dead End  –  265
  5. Merrily We Live  –  250
  6. A Free Soul  –  245
  7. Anna Christie  –  240
  8. Stage Door  –  230
  9. Five Star Final  –  215
  10. Broken Blossoms  –  210

Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Win

  1. My Man Godfrey  –  12
  2. The Lower Depths  –  10
  3. Wuthering Heights  –  10
  4. The Invisible Man  –  9
  5. Faust  –  8
  6. 7th Heaven  –  8
  7. It Happened One Night  –  8
  8. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town  –  8
  9. You Can’t Take It With You  –  8
  10. Stagecoach  –  8

Most Nighthawk Points without a Win

  1. My Man Godfrey  –  410
  2. Wuthering Heights  –  325
  3. The Lower Depths  –  315
  4. It Happened One Night  –  300
  5. The Invisible Man  –  280
  6. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town  –  280
  7. You Can’t Take It With You  –  280
  8. 7th Heaven  –  250
  9. Stagecoach  –  250
  10. Faust  –  195

Most 2nd Place Finishes:

  1. Gone with the Wind  –  7
  2. The Petrified Forest  –  6
  3. Metropolis  –  5
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  5
  5. Les Miserables  –  5
  6. The Phantom of the Opera  –  4
  7. The Public Enemy  –  4
  8. Frankenstein  –  4
  9. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang  –  4
  10. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  4

Most 6th Place Finishes:

  1. The Last Laugh  –  3
  2. Freaks  –  3
  3. A Tale of Two Cities  –  3
  4. La Marseillaise  –  3
  5. Night Must Fall  –  3
  6. Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife  –  3
  7. Alexander Nevsky  –  3
  8. The Birth of a Nation  –  2
  9. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)  –  2
  10. The Love of Jeanne Ney  –  2

Most Top 10 Finishes:

  1. The Wizard of Oz  –  22
  2. Le million  –  15
  3. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  15
  4. Captain Blood  –  15
  5. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  14
  6. Frankenstein  –  14
  7. Mutiny on the Bounty  –  14
  8. Gone with the Wind  –  14
  9. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  –  13
  10. Footlight Parade  –  13

Most Top 20 Finishes:

  1. The Wizard of Oz  –  22
  2. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  16
  3. Le million  –  15
  4. Captain Blood  –  15
  5. All Quiet on the Western Front  –  14
  6. Frankenstein  –  14
  7. Footlight Parade  –  14
  8. Mutiny on the Bounty  –  14
  9. Gone with the Wind  –  14
  10. The Gold Rush  –  13

Most Comedy or Drama Points Without a Picture Win

  1. The Awful Truth  –  530
  2. My Man Godfrey  –  500
  3. Dinner at Eight  –  435
  4. The Gay Divorcee  –  435
  5. Merrily We Live  –  435
  6. Le million  –  420
  7. Design for Living  –  360
  8. Footlight Parade  –  340
  9. Gone with the Wind  –  330
  10. Mutiny on the Bounty  –  320

Most Comedy or Drama Points Without a Picture Nomination:

  1. Tillie’s Punctured Romance  –  300
  2. A Free Soul  –  275
  3. The Affairs of Anatol  –  270
  4. What Price Hollywood  –  225
  5. Anna Christie  –  215
  6. Jezebel  –  215
  7. Broken Blossoms  –  210
  8. The Barrett of Wimpole Street  –  210
  9. L’Argent  –  205
  10. Hard to Handle  –  190

Most Comedy or Drama Points Without a Win:

  1. Show People  –  275
  2. It Happened One Night –  275
  3. Twentieth Century  –  275
  4. You Can’t Take It With You  –  270
  5. Dodsworth  –  240
  6. The 39 Steps  –  235
  7. Dead End  –  235
  8. Captain Blood  –  195
  9. Hard to Handle  –  190
  10. Night Must Fall  –  180

Most Top 20 Points Without a Nomination:

note:  This takes a film’s finish in any Nighthawk category and gives it points based on a finish in the Top 20.  A win is 20 points, a 2nd place is 19, down to 20th place which is 1 point.  All categories are equal.

  1. Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife  –  121
  2. Drums Along the Mohawk  –  91
  3. Show People  –  84
  4. Road to Glory  –  75
  5. After the Thin Man  –  69
  6. Love Affair  –  63
  7. The Lodger  –  59
  8. Topper  –  59
  9. The Drum  –  52
  10. A Bill of Divorcement  –  51

Most Top 20 Points Without a Top 10 Finish:

note:  This takes a film’s finish in any Nighthawk category and gives it points based on a finish in the Top 20.  A win is 20 points, a 2nd place is 19, down to 20th place which is 1 point.  All categories are equal.

  1. Alibi  –  24
  2. Othello  (1922)  –  23
  3. Blind Husbands  –  22
  4. Carry On, Sergeant!  –  20
  5. Vivacious Lady  –  19
  6. King Lear (1916)  –  16
  7. Murders in the Rue Morgue  –  16
  8. Barbary Coast  –  16
  9. Robin Hood  (1922)  –  15
  10. From Morn to Midnight  –  14

Most Top 20 Weighted Points Without a Best Picture Win:

note:  This takes a film’s finish in any Nighthawk category and gives it points based on a finish in the Top 20.  However, this weights the categories on a scale based on the award points, both for the win and the nominations.  So, the scale for Picture, in descending order is 100, 77, 70, 67, 63 (it then drops because you can’t have more than 50 points, which is what you get for a nomination), 43, 40, 38, 36, 33, 18, 17, 15, 13, 12, 8, 7, 4, 3, 2.  It’s designed to give more weight to Top 5 and Top 10 finishes.  The scale is roughly the same for all of the categories, beginning with its point total for the award.

  1. The Petrified Forest  –  672
  2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  –  650
  3. Gone with the Wind  –  604
  4. Frankenstein  –  595
  5. Mutiny on the Bounty  –  588
  6. My Man Godfrey  –  587
  7. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  566
  8. Metropolis  –  561
  9. Dracula  –  546
  10. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  –  542

Most Top 20 Weighted Points Without a Best Picture Nomination:

note:  This takes a film’s finish in any Nighthawk category and gives it points based on a finish in the Top 20.  However, this weights the categories on a scale based on the award points, both for the win and the nominations.  So, the scale for Picture, in descending order is 100, 77, 70, 67, 63 (it then drops because you can’t have more than 50 points, which is what you get for a nomination), 43, 40, 38, 36, 33, 18, 17, 15, 13, 12, 8, 7, 4, 3, 2.  It’s designed to give more weight to Top 5 and Top 10 finishes.  The scale is roughly the same for all of the categories, beginning with its point total for the award.

  1. Captain Blood  –  506
  2. The Love of Jeanne Ney  –  484
  3. Dead End  –  483
  4. L’Argent  –  460
  5. Merrily We Live  –  440
  6. Dinner at Eight  –  400
  7. Five Star Final  –  396
  8. Stage Door  –  394
  9. Footlight Parade  –  370
  10. Design for Living  –  365

All-Time Nighthawk Awards

note:  These are my all-time Top 5 in each category through 1939.  Films in red won the Oscar.  Films in blue were Oscar nominated.  There are a few lists here that aren’t in my usual Nighthawk Awards.  I also don’t discuss as much since there are fewer awards groups and I have discussed the quality of these so many other places.

  • Best Picture
  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. The Grand Illusion
  3. Modern Times
  4. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
  5. M
  • Best Director
  1. Victor Fleming  (The Wizard of Oz)
  2. Fritz Lang  (M)
  3. F.W. Murnau  (Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans)
  4. Jean Renoir  (The Grand Illusion)
  5. Charlie Chaplin  (Modern Times)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. The Petrified Forest
  3. Greed
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front
  5. Bringing Up Baby
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. The Grand Illusion
  2. Modern Times
  3. City Lights
  4. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  5. Duck Soup
  • Best Actor:
  1. James Stewart  (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)
  2. Peter Lorre  (M)
  3. Charles Laughton  (Mutiny on the Bounty)
  4. Charlie Chaplin  (Modern Times)
  5. Fredric March  (A Star is Born)
  • Vivien_Leigh_in_Gone_With_the_Wind_trailer-9Best Actress
  1. Vivien Leigh  (Gone with the Wind)
  2. Wendy Hiller  (Pygmalion)
  3. Janet Gaynor  (Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans)
  4. Janet Gaynor  (A Star is Born)
  5. Katharine Hepburn  (Bringing Up Baby)

Analysis:  Well at least the Oscars got a couple right here.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Claude Rains  (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)
  2. Charles Laughton  (Les Miserables)
  3. Humphrey Bogart  (The Petrified Forest)
  4. Erich von Stroheim  (The Grand Illusion)
  5. Boris Karloff  (Frankenstein)

Analysis:  Through 1939, Lionel Barrymore leads in points by just one point over Rains followed not far behind by Laughton and Edward Everett Horton.  Laughton would have been #1 easily if Mutiny wasn’t considered a lead role.

  • Wizard-Of-Oz-witch_lBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Margaret Hamilton  (The Wizard of Oz)
  2. Brigitte Helm  (Metropolis)
  3. Olivia de Havilland  (Gone with the Wind)
  4. Miriam Hopkins  (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
  5. Gale Sondegaard  (Anthony Adverse)

Analysis:  Helm still had the most points in the category by 1939 though Billie Burke had come close thanks to several hilarious (and sometimes touching) performances.  Hamilton’s performance is the only one higher than a 6 to this point.

  • Best Supporting Actor  (total)
  1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  (20)
  2. The Love of Jeanne Ney  (10)
  3. The Wizard of Oz  (10)
  4. The Petrified Forest  (10)

Analysis:  This adds up all the points for Supporting Actor.  I won’t include films with less than 10 points since 9 points is what you can get for a single performance.

  • Best Supporting Actress  (total)
  1. Gone with the Wind  (12)
  2. Merrily We Live  (11)

Analysis:  This adds up all the points for Supporting Actress.  I won’t include films with less than 10 points since 9 points is what you can get for a single performance.

  • Best Ensemble
  1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  (35)
  2. Gone with the Wind  (29)
  3. My Man Godfrey  (28)
  4. The Petrified Forest  (27)
  5. The Wizard of Oz  (25)

Analysis:  This adds up all the acting points across the categories.  Mr. Smith wins this easily because of the supporting performances.  My Man Godfrey deserves special note.  It’s the first of just 19 films in history (and the only through 1939) to earn at least a six in all four acting categories (though, to be fair, that’s because it earns two mentions in both supporting categories).  But it’s appropriate since it was the first film ever nominated in all four acting categories at the Oscars.

  • Best Editing:
  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. The Battleship Potemkin
  3. Modern Times
  4. M
  5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
  • Best Cinematography:
  1. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
  2. The Wizard of Oz
  3. M
  4. Gone with the Wind
  5. Greed
  • Best Original Score:
  1. Herbert Stothart  (The Wizard of Oz)
  2. Max Steiner  (Gone with the Wind)
  3. Erich Wolfgang Korngold  (The Adventures of Robin Hood)
  4. Charlie Chaplin  (City Lights)
  5. Max Steiner  (King Kong)

Analysis:  In my absolute points list, the top 5 through 1939 are Max Steiner (317), Alfred Newman (216), Charlie Chaplin (199), Erich Wolfgang Korngold (150) and Herbert Stothart (100).

  • Best Sound:
  1. All Quiet on the Western Front
  2. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
  3. The Wizard of Oz
  4. King Kong
  5. The Bride of Frankenstein

Analysis:  Sound really developed well as time went on but some of the best work was early.

  • Best Art Direction:
  1. Metropolis
  2. The Wizard of Oz
  3. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  4. Frankenstein
  5. Dracula

Analysis:  At this point, we now have more perfect 9 scores than a Top 5 can fit (Gone with the Wind is #6).  We’ve already by this point got some of the most iconic scenes ever put on film.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. King Kong
  3. The Bride of Frankenstein
  4. The Invisible Man
  5. Thief of Bagdad

Analysis:  Dropped by the Oscars after 1928 and added back in 1939 but only Wizard from my list could take advantage of that and it still didn’t win.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Captain Blood
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front
  4. King Kong
  5. The Bride of Frankenstein

Analysis:  Even the few films with sound at the time didn’t really use Sound Editing.

  • Best Costume Design:
  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Gone with the Wind
  3. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  5. Marie Antoinette

Analysis:  I can’t fathom how the Academy didn’t have an award for this by this point, especially given the amazing work at the end of the thirties.  We have the first couple of perfect 9 scores in this category now.

  • Best Makeup
  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  3. The Phantom of the Opera
  4. The Bride of Frankenstein
  5. Frankenstein

Analysis:  This category still wouldn’t get an award for decades but even with Lon Chaney gone, it continues to improve.

  • Best Technical Aspects
  1. The Wizard of Oz  (76)
  2. The Bride of Frankenstein  (56)
  3. The Adventures of Robin Hood  (45)
  4. Captain Blood  (45)
  5. Gone with the Wind  (44)

Analysis:  Simply a tallying of all the points I award in the Tech categories out of a maximum of 81.  Because the films in the 20s didn’t have Score or Sound to add on to the totals, it just about guaranteed all five films would be from the 30s (and they are – with three more 30s films, King Kong, Frankenstein and Modern Times also finishing above any film from the 20s).

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “Over the Rainbow”  (The Wizard of Oz)
  2. “If I Only Had a Brain”  (The Wizard of Oz)
  3. “Cheek to Cheek”  (Top Hat)
  4. “Heigh Ho”  (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
  5. “We’re Off to See the Wizard”  (The Wizard of Oz)

Analysis:  The category still wasn’t that strong until Wizard came along.

  • Best Original Song Total:
  1. The Wizard of Oz  (40)
  2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  (24)
  3. Shall We Dance  (21)
  4. Horse Feathers  (16)
  5. Duck Soup  (12)

Analysis:  This adds up the points of all the original songs for the film.  The maximum possible is 45 because I only list five songs maximum (since that’s how many nominations there are).

  • Best Animated Film:
  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Analysis:  We finally have something here though of course no group will give awards in this category for decades.

  • Best Foreign Film:
  1. The Grand Illusion
  2. M
  3. Metropolis
  4. The Battleship Potemkin
  5. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Analysis:  Even though France has the most films and wins the most awards by far and even wins this award, it still only has one of the Top 5.

Best Films With No Top 5 Finishes:

  • Nosferatu
  • The Gold Rush
  • Scarface
  • The Rules of the Game

note:  These are all films with a 95.

Worst Film with a Top 5 Finish:

  • Anthony Adverse

note:  Only four films below *** ended up with Top 5 nominations with high *** for Thief of Bagdad, mid *** for Marie Antoinette and high **.5 for Anthony Adverse.

All-Time Nighthawk Awards – By Genre

Drama

  • Best Picture
  1. The Grand Illusion
  2. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
  3. M
  4. Metropolis
  5. All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Best Director
  1. Fritz Lang  (M)
  2. F.W. Murnau  (Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans)
  3. Jean Renoir  (The Grand Illusion)
  4. Fritz Lang  (Metropolis)
  5. Lewis Milestone  (All Quiet on the Western Front)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Petrified Forest
  2. Greed
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front
  4. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
  5. The Informer
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. The Grand Illusion
  2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  3. A Star is Born
  4. M
  5. Metropolis
  • Best Actor:
  1. James Stewart  (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)
  2. Peter Lorre  (M)
  3. Charles Laughton  (Mutiny on the Bounty)
  4. Fredric March  (A Star is Born)
  5. Paul Muni  (I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang)
  • Best Actress
  1. Vivien Leigh  (Gone with the Wind)
  2. Janet Gaynor  (Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans)
  3. Janet Gaynor  (A Star is Born)
  4. Lillian Gish  (The Wind)
  5. Bette Davis  (Of Human Bondage)
  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Claude Rains  (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)
  2. Charles Laughton  (Les Miserables)
  3. Humphrey Bogart  (The Petrified Forest)
  4. Erich von Stroheim  (The Grand Illusion)
  5. Boris Karloff  (Frankenstein)
  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Brigitte Helm  (Metropolis)
  2. Olivia de Havilland  (Gone with the Wind)
  3. Miriam Hopkins  (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
  4. Gale Sondegaard  (Anthony Adverse)
  5. Andrea Leeds  (Stage Door)

Comedy

  • Best Picture
  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Modern Times
  3. City Lights
  4. The Gold Rush
  5. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • Best Director
  1. Victor Fleming  (The Wizard of Oz)
  2. Charlie Chaplin  (Modern Times)
  3. Charlie Chaplin  (City Lights)
  4. Michael Curtiz  (The Adventures of Robin Hood)
  5. Charlie Chaplin  (The Gold Rush)

Analysis:  Chaplin continues to dominate.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Bringing Up Baby
  3. The Thin Man
  4. It Happened One Night
  5. Pygmalion

Best Original Screenplay:

  1. Modern Times
  2. City Lights
  3. Duck Soup
  4. The Rules of the Game
  5. The Gold Rush
  • Best Actor:
  1. Charlie Chaplin  (Modern Times)
  2. Leslie Howard  (Pygmalion)
  3. Charlie Chaplin  (City Lights)
  4. William Powell  (The Thin Man)
  5. Charlie Chaplin  (The Gold Rush)
  • Best Actress
  1. Wendy Hiller  (Pygmalion)
  2. Katharine Hepburn  (Bringing Up Baby)
  3. Myrna Loy  (The Thin Man)
  4. Judy Garland  (The Wizard of Oz)
  5. Claudette Colbert  (It Happened One Night)
  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Ray Bolger  (The Wizard of Oz)
  2. John Barrymore  (Dinner at Eight)
  3. Eric Blore  (It’s Love I’m After)
  4. Harry Myers  (City of Lights)
  5. Allan Mowbray  (Merrily We Live)

Analysis:  It’s ironic that Edward Everett Horton isn’t here since he has the most Comedy points through 1939 but that’s more because of many solid performances than any really strong ones.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Margaret Hamilton  (The Wizard of Oz)
  2. Billie Burke  (Merrily We Live)
  3. Marie Dressler  (Dinner at Eight)
  4. Bonita Granville  (Merrily We Live)
  5. Alice Brady  (My Man Godfrey)

Analysis:  A much, much stronger group thanks to Screwball Comedies.

Awards

Academy Awards

note:  This includes just the first twelve Academy Awards ceremonies.  There are notes about this decade in this post.  It also include links in those posts to my various posts covering these years.

  • Number of Films That Earned Nominations:  363
  • Number of Films That Have Won Oscars:  98
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  160
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  29
  • Total Number of Nominations:  792
  • Total Number of Wins:  148
  • Number of Films with Nominations I Haven’t Seen:  17
  • Best Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Modern Times

Most Oscar Nominations

  1. Gone with the Wind  –  13
  2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  –  11
  3. The Life of Emile Zola  –  10
  4. Mutiny on the Bounty  –  8
  5. Wuthering Heights  –  8
  6. Cimarron / The Lives of a Bengal Lancer  –  7
  7. The Great Ziegfeld  /  Anthony Adverse  –  7
  8. A Star is Born  /  Lost Horizon  –  7
  9. You Can’t Take It With You  –  7
  10. Goodbye Mr. Chips  /  Stagecoach  –  7

Most Oscar Wins:

  1. Gone with the Wind  –  8
  2. It Happened One Night  –  5
  3. The Informer  –  4
  4. Anthony Adverse  –  4
  5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans  –  3
  6. 7th Heaven  –  3
  7. Cimarron  –  3
  8. Cavalcade  –  3
  9. The Great Ziegfeld  /  The Story of Louis Pasteur  –  3
  10. The Life of Emile Zola  /  The Adventures of Robin Hood  –  3

Most Oscar Points:

  1. Gone with the Wind  –  665
  2. The Life of Emile Zola  –  435
  3. It Happened One Night  –  410
  4. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  –  400
  5. The Informer  –  365
  6. Cimarron  –  360
  7. Mutiny on the Bounty  –  340
  8. You Can’t Take It With You  –  330
  9. The Great Ziegfeld  –  320
  10. 7th Heaven  –  310

Most Nominated Films by Director:

  1. W.S. Van Dyke  –  12
  2. Frank Lloyd  –  9
  3. Clarence Brown  –  8
  4. George Cukor  –  8
  5. Frank Borzage  –  8
  6. John Ford  –  8
  7. William Wyler  –  7
  8. 11 directors  –  6

Most Nominations by Director:

  1. Frank Capra  –  39
  2. Victor Fleming  –  28
  3. William Wyler  –  27
  4. W.S. Van Dyke  –  25
  5. John Ford  –  25
  6. Frank Lloyd  –  24
  7. William Dieterle  –  23
  8. Michael Curtiz  –  22
  9. Clarence Brown  –  21
  10. Frank Borzage  /  Ernst Lubitsch  –  19

Most Oscars by Director:

  1. Victor Fleming  –  12
  2. Frank Capra  –  11
  3. Frank Borzage  –  8
  4. William Dieterle  –  7
  5. John Ford  –  7

Most Submitted Films by Studio:

  1. Paramount  –  701
  2. 20th Century-Fox  /  Fox Films  –  604
  3. Warner Bros.  –  589
  4. MGM  –  541
  5. RKO Radio  –  418
  6. Universal  –  340
  7. Columbia  –  309
  8. United Artists  –  195
  9. Republic  –  140
  10. FBO  –  113

note:  It’s worth noting that FBO was in 2nd place in 1929 and submitted no more films after that.  Monogram was just behind FBO with 104 and would have passed FBO had they not merged to form Republic and thus submitted few films in 1935 and none in 1936 before splitting again in 1937.  Once Monogram passes FBO in 1940, this list will remain unchanged (except for shuffling to different places on the list) until Republic is bumped off in 2009.

Most Nominated Films by Studio:

  1. MGM  –  78
  2. Paramount  –  58
  3. United Artists  –  55
  4. Warner Bros.  –  52
  5. RKO Radio  –  38
  6. 20th Century-Fox  /  Fox Films  –  34
  7. Columbia  –  17
  8. Universal  –  15
  9. Republic  –  8
  10. Grand National  /  Pathe  –  2

Highest Percentage of Nominated to Submitted Films by Studio (min. 7 films):

  1. United Artists  –  28.21%
  2. MGM  –  14.42%
  3. RKO Radio  –  9.09%
  4. Warner Bros.  –  8.83%
  5. Paramount  –  8.27%

note:  Disney went 1/1, Harold Auten went 1/2 and World Pictures 1/6.

Most Submitted Films Without a Nomination:

  1. FBO  –  113
  2. Monogram  –  104
  3. Tiffany Productions  –  85
  4. All-Star Pictures  –  56
  5. First National Pictures  –  44

Most Nominations by Studio:

  1. MGM  –  196
  2. United Artists  –  120
  3. Paramount  –  104
  4. Warner Bros.  –  104
  5. RKO Radio  –  75
  6. 20th Century-Fox  /  Fox Films  –  74
  7. Columbia  –  62
  8. Universal  –  37
  9. Republic  –  12
  10. Grand National  /  Pathe  –  2

Most Wins by Studio:

  1. MGM  –  42
  2. Warner Bros.  –  24
  3. 20th Century-Fox  /  Fox Films  –  19
  4. Paramount  –  18
  5. Columbia  –  15
  6. United Artists  –  13
  7. RKO Radio  –  12
  8. Universal  –  5

note:  This is the whole list.  Disney would win 2 Oscars in 1940 but it wouldn’t be until 1945 that an actual independent distributor would win an Oscar.

Nominated Films by Genre:

  • Drama:  174  (46.83%)
  • Musical:  80
  • Comedy:  46
  • Adventure:  20
  • Crime:  13
  • War:  8
  • Western:  7
  • Horror:  3
  • Kids:  3
  • Mystery:  3
  • Fantasy:  2
  • Action:  1
  • Documentary:  1

Best Picture Nominees by Genre:

  • Drama:  54  (52.42%)  (5)
  • Musical:  16  (2)
  • Comedy:  11  (2)
  • Adventure:  8  (1)
  • War:  4  (2)
  • Crime:  4
  • Western:  3  (1)
  • Fantasy:  1
  • Kids:  1
  • Mystery:  1

Films I’ve Seen:

  • Winners:  95.91%  (94/98)
  • Nominees:  95.31%  (346/363)
  • Submitted “Major Studio” Films:  61.94%  (2295/3705)
  • Submitted “Indie Films”:  68.57%  (168/245)
  • Submitted “Foreign Distributors”:  57.78%  (78/135)
  • Submitted Other Films:  33.54%  (274/817)
  • Total Submitted Films:  57.43%  (2815/4902)

Critics Awards

The critics awards began in 1932 with the National Board of Review giving out Best Picture and Best Foreign Film which is all it awarded through the end of the decade.  The New York Film Critics began their awards in 1935 with awards for Picture, Director, Actor and Actress, adding Foreign Film the next year.

I award the NBR at 80% of the point totals while I award the NYFC at 100% to gain my weighted total for Awards Points.

  • Number of Films That Won Awards (NBR):  15
  • Number of Films That Won Awards (NYFC):  23
  • Number of Films That Won Awards (both):  5
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  6
  • Total Number of Films:  33
  • Total Number of Awards:  40
  • Director with Most Awarded Films:  Frank Capra  (3 films, 4 awards)
  • Studio with Most Awarded Films:  MGM  (8 films, 9 awards)
  • Best Film with No Awards:  The Wizard of Oz

Trivia:

  • In 1936, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town would become the second film and first Comedy to win both Best Picture awards.  No Comedy would do it again for 20 years.
  • In 1939, John Ford would become the first director to win two NYFC Awards for Best Director.
  • Three films through 1939 won both the NYFC and NBR.  None of them won the Oscar.

Top 5 Points (Total – Weighted):

  1. The Informer  –  270
  2. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town  –  180
  3. The Citadel  –  180
  4. The Life of Emile Zola  –  170
  5. Wuthering Heights  –  100

note:  The only films with multiple wins not listed are Carnival in Flanders and The Grand Illusion both of which earned 72 points (both Foreign Film awards).

Top 5 Points (Total – NYFC only):

  1. The Informer  –  190
  2. The Life of Emile Zola  –  170
  3. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town  –  100
  4. The Citadel  –  100
  5. Wuthering Heights  –  100

note:  There is no list for the NBR only because the Pictures all earn 100 (or 80 weighted) and all the Foreign winners earn 40 (or 32).

Lists

I won’t do a lot of lists because that’s the whole point of TSPDT – they put a ridiculous amount of lists in the blender and come out with the “definitive” one.  Their lists includes lists by genre, so you can always go there and look at their source lists.

The TSPDT Top 25 Films Released Through 1939

  1. The Rules of the Game (#4)
  2. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (#8)
  3. The Battleship Potemkin (#15)
  4. The Passion of Joan of Arc (#17)
  5. L’Atalante (#18)
  6. The Man with a Movie Camera (#20)
  7. City Lights (#28)
  8. The General (#40)
  9. The Grand Illusion (#44)
  10. Modern Times (#48)
  11. (#58)
  12. Metropolis  (#60)
  13. The Gold Rush (#71)
  14. Greed (#96)
  15. The Wizard of Oz (#105)
  16. Intolerance  (#106)
  17. Gone with the Wind (#107)
  18. Sherlock, Jr. (#113)
  19. Nosferatu (#119)
  20. Bringing Up Baby  (#125)
  21. Stagecoach (#136)
  22. Un Chien andalou (#138)
  23. L’Age d’Or (#140)
  24. Duck Soup (#145)
  25. Trouble in Paradise (#149)

note:  These are the current (2020) rankings from TSPDT.  I will point out that my own lists don’t include Un Chien andalou (short) or The Man with a Movie Camera or Nanook of the North (documentaries).

The IMDb Voters Top 10 Films Through 1939

note:  I used the IMDb search to include all films released by 31 December 1939 with a runtime of at least 60 minutes and sort them by User Rating descending.

  1. Modern Times
  2. City Lights
  3. M
  4. Metropolis
  5. The Kid
  6. Make Way for Tomorrow
  7. Les Miserables  (1934)
  8. I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
  9. The Gold Rush
  10. Sherlock, Jr.

The IMDb Voters Most Popular 10 Films Through 1939

note:  I used the IMDb search to include all films released by 31 December 1939 with a runtime of at least 60 minutes and sort them by User Votes descending.

  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Gone with the Wind
  3. Modern Times
  4. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  5. City Lights
  6. Metropolis
  7. M
  8. The Kid
  9. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  10. The Gold Rush

Top 6 U.S. Domestic Box Office (Rentals)

  1. Gone with the Wind  –  $26.0 mil
  2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  –  $6.0 mil
  3. The Big Parade  –  $5.5 mil
  4. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse  –  $4.5 mil
  5. Ben-Hur  –  $4.0 mil
  6. The Singing Fool  –  $4.0 mil

note:  This information is pulled from the January 18, 1950 issue of Weekly Variety (page 18).  For a long time, Variety reported rentals rather than grosses.  It’s hard to equate that perfectly to today’s gross figures and I don’t know where Box Office Mojo gets their pre-1980 information from since Variety seemed to be the main place that had info and they only reported rentals.  A comparison I did of the 1980 Variety all-time list against the listed gross at BOM ranged from a 3.3 multiplier for the rental figure (Benji) all the way down to 1.22 (A Bridge Too Far).  BOM doesn’t list Big Parade even though it was consistently listed as the highest grossing film of the era (with the caveat for the next note) but they do list Four Horsemen on their all-time adjusted list with a gross of $9.18 million (a 2.04 multiplier, right in line with average 2.08 for the 1980 comparison).  I haven’t the time to plow through all the early Variety issues to see if there are earlier lists but they seem to have cut off their all-time list with rentals of four million, so there might not be anything more on pre-1930 films.

note:  “D.W. Griffith’s 1915 smash, Birth of a Nation (Mutual) belongs on the list, but exactly where is a question confused by nostalgia and lost records.  Oldtimers in one way or another associated with the picture estimate its gross at from $35,000,000 to $50,000,000.”  (Weekly Variety, 1/18/50, p 18).  Please notice that it uses the word “gross”, so its hard to know how to compare that to the then listed rentals for Gone with the Wind of $26 million (not a mistake – GWTW would consistently earn re-releases including a massive one in 1968 that would increase its rentals total to over $70 million by the early 70s).

Top 10 U.S. Domestic Box Office (Gross – supposedly)

  1. Gone with the Wind  –  $198.68 mil
  2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  –  $184.93 mil
  3. Mickey  –  $17.20 mil
  4. Ben-Hur  –  $12.45 mil
  5. The Big Parade  –  $11.00 mil
  6. Tom Sawyer  –  $11.00 mil
  7. The Singing Fool  –  $10.90 mil
  8. The Birth of a Nation  –  $10.00 mil
  9. King Kong  –  $10.00 mil
  10. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  –  $9.60 mil

note:  For reasons covered above, I am dubious of these numbers.  But when making a list in the Advanced Search at the IMDb, you can sort it by gross and this what the Top 10 are according to the IMDb (which, of course, owns BOM).