What Should Have Won the 1935 Best Picture Oscar?

Welcome to Year Eight of the Best Picture discussion, concerning movies released in 1935!

This was the year the Oscars almost ended, due to various guilds boycotting the event, out of anger over how the Academy was being used to try and breka them. Dudley Nichols became the first person to refuse an Oscar as part of the protest. Academy President Frank Capra rescued the institution, by hook and by crook.  For example, he allowed write-in votes were allowed, to counter charges the Academy was jiggering the votes.

Originally, Mutiny on the Bounty won, over Katharine Hepburn’s Alice Adams, Broadway Melody of 1936, Errol Flynn and Michael Curtiz’ Captain Blood, David O. Selznick and W.C. Fields’ David Copperfield, John Ford’s The Informer, Fredric March and Charles Laughton’s Les Misérables, Gary Cooper’s The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, the all-star A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald’s Naughty Marietta, Charles Laughton’s Ruggles of Red Gap, and the incomparable Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ greatest movie, Top Hat.

Here are three major omissions on the part of the Academy, and what I had to say about them in V. 1: “The Academy shamelessly omitted nominations for three other outstanding films: Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps; James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein; and the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera. All three approach perfection, and along with many of the Academy’s choices, rendered this year one of the most difficult to reconsider. Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps is one of his great suspense masterpieces (see Best Director for more). Bride of Frankenstein is one of those rare things: a sequel that betters the original. The imagery of Frankenstein on the cross opens up all kinds of thoughts about the role of the outsider, the exile, and the castoffs of society, at the hands of a persecuting majority. Funnier, better acted all around (even Karloff matches and exceeds his original performance), with a deeper story and better supporting cast (Ernest Thesiger is priceless), Bride of Frankenstein is my favorite horror film. I came within a hair’s breadth of choosing it as the Best Picture…As for A Night at the Opera, the Marx Brothers produce a classic comedy, but one somewhat drained of their insanity, as Thalberg put them in service to a romance, which tames them to a degree.”

Other folks might also primp for Cecil B. DeMille’s The Crusades; Miriam Hopkins and the first Technicolor feature, Becky Sharp; Henry Hull and the first werewolf movie, Werewolf of London; W.C. Fields’ The Man on the Flying Trapeze; and Laurel and Hardy’s Tit for Tat.

What would your choice be? Please vote!

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


  1. I voted Top Hat because it’s my very very favorite Fred and Ginger. I still watch it everytime it’s on. Altho I do love Bride of Frankenstein also.

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