A Century of Film

Kids Filmsozgang

The Genre

For a lot of people, Kids films mean Animated films.  Perhaps part of the problem is that I really should re-name the genre to Family Films, which I probably would if it didn’t mean making changes in so many different spreadsheets.  “Kids” implies it’s only for children and a lot of these films are only for children (and really shouldn’t even be for them because they’re so insipid) whereas “Family” opens up the notion to films that are good for kids, that kids can enjoy, but really are also aimed at the whole family where adults can also enjoy them.  That would make people stop thinking just “animated” and open things up to films like The Wizard of Oz, Miracle on 34th Street, The Muppet Movie or Babe.


A Century of Film


So, I originally planned to have one long post that covered both film history through 1939 as well as film history during the decade but decided it was long enough just being a single decade; as a result, the film history through 1939 will be posted soon after this and that is how it will work with future decades as well (for the 20’s it was irrelevant since I covered all of film history up to that point in one post). (more…)

A Century of Film


The Studio

In 1924, Loew’s was one of the most prominent studios in Hollywood.  It had a massive studio chain and with Metro Pictures, a production company that was providing a good share of films to fill them.  But Metro’s films had been slipping and Lee Shubert, whose theater chains were big on stage but less so in Hollywood, happened to be a board member of both Loew’s and Goldwyn Pictures, the studio formed by Samuel Goldwyn but which he had departed in 1922.  Goldwyn wasn’t in great shape and its mascot (Leo the Lion) was better known than most of its stars (the biggest being Will Rogers); a long explanation of Leo’s history as the mascot can be found here.  A merger became imminent but they needed someone better than anyone available at Metro or Goldwyn to run the studio.

Enter Louis B. Mayer who had a strong hand in management and had been making films for his own independent production company.  Loew’s would be the parent company, absorbing both Goldwyn and Mayer’s independent company and the combined new studio, with a large roster of talent and a steady hand at the helm would be christened Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer but would soon be known primarily as MGM. (more…)


The one film from 1939 that might be better than its reputation.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category.  Films in blue were nominated.  The Academy added one category this year – splitting Score into Score and Original Score, though they are vague over what the precise difference is.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  3. Wuthering Heights
  4. Stagecoach
  5. Gone With the Wind


"So once more the little company set off upon the journey, the Lion walking with stately strides at Dorothy's side."  (book, p 55).  Or, to put it another way: "Follow the Yellow Brick Road."

“So once more the little company set off upon the journey, the Lion walking with stately strides at Dorothy’s side.” (book, p 55). Or, to put it another way: “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

My Top 9:

  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Wuthering Heights
  3. Port of Shadows
  4. The Lady Vanishes
  5. Stagecoach
  6. Harvest
  7. Gunga Din
  8. Of Mice and Men
  9. Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Note:  Again we have a list that isn’t quite reflective of the films as a whole.

Oscar Nominees  (Best Screenplay):

  • Gone with the Wind
  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  • Wuthering Heights

Analysis:  This time we have two films in this category that would qualify as original – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (which would actually win Best Original Story) and Ninotchka. (more…)

A couple of famous Oscar winners in 1939.

A couple of famous Oscar winners in 1939.


This is a companion piece to three different series.  The first is the The History of the Academy Awards, in which I covered each category in individual posts.  This was originally done in 2009 and additions were included in 2010.  You can find links to all of these pieces in each individual category.  I have grouped all of the categories together for the same reason that I did so originally – because most pieces on the Oscars don’t approach the awards through the categories, but through the years.  This specific piece is designed to take a closer look at the decade (with a couple of extra years, since there was no point in doing a separate piece on the first two years of the Oscars) and how I think the Academy did in those years.

The second series is my Year in Film series.  That is mentioned here because in those pieces I included paragraphs about the Oscars as a whole for each year and included a considerable amount of trivia.  Since I had based my Year in Film series and eligibility as such on the Academy calendar, it all seemed very relevant.  Also, starting in 1930-31, I started including various prizes (Worst Oscar, Worst Nomination, Worst Omission, etc) and I didn’t want to repeat myself, so following the links will bring you there.  Those links are at the end of this piece, where I do a brief summation of each year and how the Academy did.

The third series is my History of the Academy Awards: Best Picture series, where I reviewed every film ever nominated for Best Picture (except The Patriot, which is lost).  Those links are also down below, grouped by year. (more…)

The wonderful Annotated editions of The Wizard of Oz and Classic Fairy Tales from W.W. Norton

Back in 2000, Norton, that wonderful publisher that has ruled the roost of critical editions for great works of literature for decades, released The Annotated Alice.  It was a large hardcover book, almost the size of a coffee-table book.  It had wonderful annotations throughout the text as well as wonderful illustrations throughout the entire text of both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  It was not a brand new book, however.  It was a reprint of a book originally printed by Crown Publishers in 1960 (it has been printed both by Bramhall House and by Clarkson N. Potter – both of them were imprints of Crown, but I can’t tell what was published by which and when).  It was apparently the brainchild of Clarkson N. Potter, a publisher with some great ideas.  After Alice, he spent the next two decades culling some of the great works of literature and having them all printed in these large hardcover formats with illustrations and annotations throughout. (more…)

It’s just a hunch, but I’m gonna go ahead and guess that he doesn’t give a damn.

The 12th Academy Awards, for the film year 1939.  The nominees were announced on February 11, 1940 and the awards were held on February 29, 1940.

Best Picture:  Gone with the Wind

  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Stagecoach
  • Of Mice and Men
  • Ninotchka
  • Goodbye Mr. Chips
  • Dark Victory
  • Love Affair

Most Surprising Omission:  Young Mr. Lincoln

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  The Lady Vanishes

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #47


The animated film that really started it all: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Before diving into the Best Pictures of 1939, I’ll cover the decade at a glance with my own awards.

1930 – 1939

Total Films I’ve Seen:  460

Films That Make the Top 5 in a Category:  35

Best Film Not to Make the Top 5 in Any Category:  Scarface

Film of the Decade:  The Wizard of Oz

Worst Film of the Decade:  Oliver Twist (1932)

Worst Best Picture Nominee of the Decade:  Cleopatra

Worst Film of the Decade made by a Top 100 Director:  Jamaica Inn (more…)

My Top 10:

The best film of the decade and maybe the century: The Wizard of Oz

  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  3. Wuthering Heights
  4. Stagecoach
  5. The Lady Vanishes
  6. Alexander Nevsky
  7. Gone with the Wind
  8. Of Mice and Men
  9. Gunga Din
  10. Port of Shadows (more…)