Beginning in November 2019, I embarked on the Old Hollywood Best Picture Challenge, where I will endeavor to watch all 270 films that were nominated and/or won for Best Picture at the Academy Awards between the years 1927-1969. For a list of all films and reviews, please see my original post.
Nominees & Winner of 1928/29:
What was happening in 1928/29?:
Republican Herbert Hoover won the presidential election on November 6, 1928 and was sworn in as the 31st President of the United States on March 4, 1929.
Reminiscent of nominee Alibi, Chicago prohibition agent Eliot Ness became a thorn in gangster Al Capone’s side and begins his efforts to bring him down. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre on February 14, 1929 where several rival gangsters of Capone’s were murdered made news headlines all over the country.
Future actress Jane Powell, who had a major career in MGM musicals like 1928/29’s Best Picture winner The Broadway Melody, was born on April 1, 1929.
Future Best Actress Oscar winner Audrey Hepburn is born on May 4, 1929. One of her trademarks, sunglasses, is also first mass produced and sold in stores by Sam Foster this year.
Holocaust victim Anne Frank was born on June 12, 1929. A film about her life, The Diary of Anne Frank, would be made 30 years later and nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award for the 1960 awards ceremony.
Warner Bros. releases the first completely Technicolor talkie, On With the Show.
Academy Awards Summary and Trivia for 1928/29 (1930 ceremony):
The 2nd Academy Awards ceremony was held on April 3, 1930 at the Cocoanut Grove of the Ambassador Hotel. The films nominated for awards spanned from August 1, 1928 – July 31, 1929. Only 7 awards were bestowed this year (about half as many as the former) and no honorable mentions.
Even though the nominees for Best Picture (called Outstanding Picture at this ceremony) included one silent film, the award for Writing (Titles), seen the previous year, was noticeably absent. In one short year, sound had officially taken over.
Unlike the previous year where winners were announced prior to the ceremony, this year the winners were revealed during, making the results a surprise for all involved. This tradition would become a staple of the Academy Awards ceremony.
It was not too much of a surprise that The Broadway Melody beat out its competitors. 9 of the 10 highest grossing films of 1929 were musicals, the novelty of this new concept hitting viewers full force. The award was really a musical’s to win.
Other Academy Award Winners for 1928/29:
- Best Directing: Frank Lloyd (The Divine Lady)
- Best Actor: Warner Baxter (In Old Arizona)
- Best Actress: Mary Pickford (Coquette)
- Art Direction: The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Cedric Gibbons)
- Cinematography: White Shadows in the South Seas (Clyde de Vinna)
- Writing: The Patriot (Hans Kraly)
Oscar Snubs & Misses:
- The Cocoanuts (1929)
- The Wind (1928)
Like the previous year, I had a difficult time picking a winner, but this time for very different reasons. There really wasn’t a one among this bunch of nominees that I truly enjoyed or that stood out. Most had a few interesting components or actors, but they were hidden in a sea of lackluster performances, boring plots, and unlikeable characters. Then there was the added difficulty of not being able to see one of the films in its entirety, due to it being lost (The Patriot).
So, while I never thought when first watching it that The Broadway Melody would be my pick for 1928/29’s Best Picture winner, compared to the rest I can sort of see why it was selected. Out of all of the nominees, the sound quality was the best. It did what it set out to do and did that part very well, at least. My halfhearted ranking is as follows:
- Winner = The Broadway Melody
- The Hollywood Revue of 1929
- The Patriot
- In Old Arizona
While The Hollywood Revue of 1929 could have cut about half the acts out and not been worse for it, at least it was something different! Though I was only able to see about 3 minutes of The Patriot, I was impressed by the sets and intrigued by the plot. Chester Morris’ performance was the only thing stopping me from slinging Alibi straight to the bottom and I still believe that he outperformed Best Actor winner Warner Baxter in In Old Arizona, which fell to the bottom of my ranks mostly due to the horrendous sound quality.
I’m hopeful for next season’s batch! One of the five nominees is a favorite of mine (not telling which one!) so I know this viewing experience will be a bit more fun…
Until next time, happy viewing!