Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Countdown to the Oscars: 1934

1934 was a big year for the movies. William Powell and Myrna Loy hit the screen and became everyone's favorite married couple in the first of six 'Thin Man' films. Shirley Temple became America's little darling. It was also the year of It Happened One Night. Starring the King of Hollywood, Clark Gable, and Claudette Colbert, this picture, which was filmed at Columbia, considered a 'Poverty Row' studio, was a runaway hit, winning all five of it's nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor - Clark Gable (unfortunately he beat out William Powell in The Thin Man), Best Actress - Claudette Colbert, Best Director - Frank Capra (his 2nd nomination, first win), and Best Writing Adaptation. You can watch Gable and Colbert accepting their awards here.

Frank Capra

Fun Facts:
  • The script was turned down by Myrna Loy, Carole Lombard, Fredric March and Robert Montgomery, who said it was the worst thing he had ever read. Colbert accepted on a promise of a doubled salary and short shooting time.
  • When Clark Gable took off his shirt and revealed that he wasn't wearing an undershirt, sales of that item plummeted.
  • Gable was sent to Columbia to do this picture as a punishment.
  • Gable gave his Oscar for It Happened One Night to a child who admired it, telling him it was the winning of the statue that had mattered, not owning it. The child returned the Oscar to the Gable family after Clark's death.
  • Colbert did not think she had a chance of winning, as she considered the film the "worst picture I've ever made." In fact, she was boarding a train when her win was announced. The train was held for her while she was quickly brought back to accept her award.
  • Held the honor of being the only film to win Best Picture, Actor, Actress, and Director for 41 years until 1975 (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).
My favorite scene is when Gable's character teaches Colbert's character how to hitch a ride.

The Academy Awards ceremony was held in February (as it is today) on the 27th, 1935, at the Biltmore Bowl of the Biltmore Hotel. The host-presenter was Irvin S. Cobb. New categories added that year were Film Editing and Music (song and music score). A special award in the form of a miniature statuette was given to Shirley Temple, in "grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934" (she appeared in 9 films - quite a lot for a tot of six!).

When Santa Claus brought you down Creation's chimney, he brought the
loveliest Christmas present that has ever been giver to the world.
~ Cobb to Temple

1934 was also the first year there was a protest over the nominees (but certainly not the last!). Many believed that Bette Davis in Of Human Bondage and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man should be added to the Best Actress category. It became so massive that the Academy announced they would allow write-ins. Of course, all the winners were actual nominees (though Bette Davis received the third most votes, the second being nominee Norma Shearer). There was also no radio broadcast of the event as there was in previous years. It is not known why (possibly so the newspapers would have the news first).

Check out this great post over at Movie Classics!

All images found via Pinterest.

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