Wednesday, December 26, 2007

11th Academy Awards

The 11th Academy Awards were held on February 23, 1939 at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. It was the first Academy Awards show without any official host. Some sources name Frank Capra as the host.

The Best Picture Oscar went to You can't take it with you, a Pulitzer Prize winning comedic play in three acts by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, and was the basis for the 1938 film directed by Frank Capra. The original production of the play opened at the Booth Theater on December 14, 1936 and played for 837 performances. It is about two young people who fall in love and have to get the two so different families together. The movie cast included James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, Spring Byington, Ann Miller, Charles Lane, Mischa Auer, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, and Arthur Murray (who is uncredited).The movie won two Academy Awards from seven nominations: Best Picture, and Best Director for Frank Capra. This was Capra's third academy award for Best Director in just five years, following It Happened One Night in 1934 and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town in 1936. The film was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Spring Byington, Robert Riskin`s script was nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay, Joseph Walker was nominated for Best Cinematography, Gene Havlick was nominated for Best Film Editing, and John P. Livadary was nominated for Best Sound, Recording.

The Best Actor in a leading role award went to Spencer Tracy for the role of Father Flanagan in Boys Town. It was his second Oscar but he wasn't present at the ceremony to recieve it. It was his wife who took it on his behalf. It was a second Oscar too for Bette Davis for a leading role of Julie Marsden in Jezebel, a headstrong young Southern woman during the Antebellum period whose actions cost her the man she loves. And finally it was a second Oscar for Walter Brennan for his supporting role in Kentucky, a modern Romeo an Juliet story set in Kentucky during the time before the Civil war.

The Best supporting actress Oscar went to Fay Bainter. Although her occupation in 1910 was traveling actress, her film debut didn't occur until This Side of Heaven in 1934, the same year in which she appeared in Dodsworth on Broadway. She quickly achieved success, and in 1938 she became the very first performer nominated for both the Oscar for Best Actress, for White Banners, and the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, for Jezebel, winning for the latter. Since then, only nine other actors have won dual nominations in a single year. She was again nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Children's Hour. Fay Bainter died from pneumonia at the age of 75. Because her husband, Reginald Venable, was a military officer, the couple is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The best Song Oscar went to Thanks for the memory from the movie The Big Broadcast of 1938. The words and music were written by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger. The song was performed by Shep Fields and his orchestra with Bob Hope and Shirley Ross providing the vocals. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and became Bob Hope's signature tune. The Best Screenplay Oscar caused a controversy when it was awarded to George Bernard Shaw among the other writters for his play Pygmalion. George Bernard Shaw was not present at the ceremony. When presenter Lloyd C. Douglas announced that Pygmalion has won the Oscar he joked "Mr. Shaw's story now is as original as it was three thousand years ago". Shaw's reaction to the award was not enthusiastic as he is quoted as saying "It's an insult for them to offer me any honour, as if they had never heard of me before - and it's very likely they never have. They might as well send some honour to George for being King of England". Although popular legend says Shaw never received the Oscar, when Mary Pickford visited him she reported that he was on his mantle. When Shaw died in 1950 his home at Ayot St Lawrence became a museum. By this time his Oscar statuette was so tarnished, the curator believed it had no value and used it as a door stop. It has since been repaired and is now on display at the museum.

The Irving G. Talberg Award went to Hal B. Wallis, an American motion picture producer.
Born Harold Brent Wallis in Chicago, Illinois, his family moved in 1922 to Los Angeles, where he found work as part of the publicity department at Warner Bros. in 1923. Within a few years, Wallis became involved in the production end of the business and would eventually become head of production at Warners. In a career that spanned more than fifty years, he was involved with the production of more than 400 feature-length movies. Among the many great movies he produced was Casablanca, one of the most honored movies in Hollywood history, as well as the Academy Award winning film True Grit starring John Wayne. Wallis left Warner Bros. in 1944 to work as an independent producer, enjoying considerable success including a number of highly successful and acclaimed movies as well as the production of the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedies and several of the Elvis Presley movies. He was nominated for seven Golden Globe awards, winning twice for Best Picture. In 1974, he received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures. Hal Wallis received sixteen Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, winning for Casablanca in 1943. For his consistently high quality of motion picture production, he was twice honored with The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.
Hal Wallis was married twice, to actress Louise Fazenda and to actress Martha Hyer (1966-1986). He died in Rancho Mirage, California, aged 88.

The special Honorary awards went to:

Arthur Ball - For his outstanding contributions to the advancement of color in motion picture photography.
Harry M. Warner- In recognition of patriotic service in the production of historical short subjects presenting significant episodes in the early struggle of the American people for liberty.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) - Walt Disney- For Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, recognized as a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field (one statuette - seven miniature statuettes).
Spawn of the North (1938) - Gordon Jennings (special effects); Jan Domela (assistant special effects); Devereaux Jennings (assistant special effects); Irmin Roberts (assistant special effects); Art Smith (assistant special effects); Farciot Edouart (transparencies); Loren L. Ryder (sound effects); Harry D. Mills (assistant sound effects); Louis Mesenkop (assistant sound effects); Walter Oberst (assistant sound effects)- For outstanding achievements in creating special photographic and sound effects in the Paramount production Spawn of the North.
Sweethearts (1938) - Oliver T. Marsh; Allen M. Davey - For the color cinematography of the M-G-M production Sweethearts.

The Juvenile Award was awarded to:

Deanna Durbin; Mickey Rooney - For their significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth, and as juvenile players setting a high standard of ability and achievement.

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