What Should Have Won the 1934 Best Picture Oscar?

Welcome to Year Seven of the Best Picture discussion, concerning movies released in 1934!

Yes, the Academy finally got things to the calendar year. No, they didn’t stop making the wrong choices.

But that’s what we’re here for, right?

Actually, they did pretty well this year, naming It Happened One Night the best picture of the year.

They also nominated Norma Shearer and Charles Laughton’s The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Cecil B. DeMille and Caludette Colbert’s Cleopatra, the lightweight Flirtation Walk, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ The Gay Divorcee, Jimmy Cagney’s Here Comes the Navy, Boris Karloff’s non-horror The House of Rothschild, the original Imitation of Life, the dismally operatic One Night of Love, the effervescent The Thin Man with William Powell and Myrna Loy, Wallace Beery’s ridiculous Viva Villa!, and the weepy nurses of The White Parade.

Here’s what I had to say about that bunch in V. 1: “Again, I offer you a trade: I will give up – forever – Flirtation Walk, The House of Rothschild, One Night of Love, Viva Villa! and The White Parade in exchange for John Ford’s The Lost Patrol, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, Ernst Lubitsch’s The Merry Widow, W.C. Fields’ It’s A Gift, and Howard Hawks’ Twentieth Century. Any takers? I didn’t think so.”

Other options include Bette Davis acting ugly and evil in Of Human Bondage; Fredric March as the title character Death Takes a Holiday; Jackie Cooper and Wallace Beery in Treasure Island; Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and some pretty damn amazing sets in The Black Cat; Laurel and Hardy in the fabulous sets of Babes in Toyland (The March of the Wooden Soldiers) and Them Thar Hills; and Josef von Sternberg’s improbable sets in The Scarlet Empress.

As always, I have much more to say in my book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OPEELH0

Which do you think should have won?

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